Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recipe: Best Waffles Ever

As I mentioned before, it's spring break here, and that means waffles.  There's a kind I've made for years.  They use yeast and they're a sort of specialty of the house.  Miriam, who is home for the week, especially likes them.  When she was little, she had a friend who visited us from time to time (I think they were both 8 or 9 years old then) who always would ask whether I was going to make "the Eggo waffles" while she was with us.  She knew they weren't frozen waffles, but to her, I guess, they tasted of egg, hence "Eggo waffles."  Who was I to argue?  And yes, I always made the waffles.  I'd have felt like a heel otherwise.  And I almost always make them when Miriam is home.

The (slight) drawback to these is that you have to plan ahead, because you mix up the batter the night before, but believe me, it's worth it.  This recipe is adapted from one by Marian Cunningham; it also appears in Rose Levy Berenbaum's The Cake Bible.

Here goes.

(Click on the title for a printer-friendly version of the recipe.  When it opens, hit Control-P on your computer to print it out.)

The night before:

1 envelope or 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (about 110* F)
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

1.  Warm the milk.  (I put it in a 4-cup measure and heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes.)

2.  In a 2-cup measure, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Let stand until doubled or more (5 - 10 minutes).  Meanwhile, the milk is cooling.

3.  When the yeast has risen (proofed) and the milk is back to lukewarm, whisk all the ingredients thoroughly to make a smooth batter.  Use a large bowl--I use my big clay bread-raising bowl.  The batter will more than double, so use the biggest non-reactive bowl you have.  (I have used the base of a large salad spinner, for example, when I was away from my own kitchen and had to have these waffles.)  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it in a draft-free place overnight.

The batter after it has risen about 2 hours.

The next morning:  note the line well above the batter showing how far it rose.

The next morning:

2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1.  Combine these ingredients and stir into the batter, which will have risen and fallen during the night.  It will also have a strong yeasty smell.  The batter will be thin.

2.  Bake in a waffle iron (I do not recommend the thick Belgian-type waffle iron for these) according to the manufacturer's directions.  Mine bake for 5 minutes until they are crisp and lacy with a pleasant brown exterior.  Again, there will be a strong yeast smell as these bake, but the final product does not taste yeasty.

3.  Serve hot from the iron with your favorite toppings. 

Be ready for these to be a hit.  They are the lightest, crispest waffles I know, and they are always much in demand around here.  But hey, if one of the kids likes something enough to request it, who am I to deny them?

ADDENDUM:  A Facebook friend, Mike, asks what will happen if you bake these in a Belgian waffle iron, because that's all he has.  My response:  they will still taste just fine; they will probably look a little funny.  Because the batter is thin, it will fill the bottom of the mold perfectly, but it may not rise enough to fill the upper half of the mold.  If you try to use more batter, it will just run out the sides of the iron.  All you have to do is turn the waffle over when you serve it, putting the funky side on the plate.  If you only have a Belgian waffle iron, go ahead and make these anyway.  They just won't look as gorgeous as they will with a conventional waffle iron.


  1. We used to make these in a belgian waffle iron before we got the fancy-shmancy one. I remember them looking just fine... though maybe my memory is flawed, since I thought that's what waffles were SUPPOSED to look like.

  2. Trust me, Elizabeth, they were funky on the underside. But as I always say, "It all looks the same in your stomach." Words to live by.

    The "fancy-schmancy" waffle iron is an old Dominion that I got on e-bay. It's probably as old as I am (well, not quite--I suspect it comes from the 1960s). But it works well because the griddles are ceramic, which distributes the heat very evenly. Newer irons that have high-tech non-stick surfaces made of metal tend to make the waffles darker in some areas than in others.

    Also, the design on the Dominion waffle iron is pretty!

    Here's a picture of one like it: