February 4, 2013 Comments Off on waffle tectonics
Waffles, frozen, have been the boy’s morning go-to breakfast. Every. Blessed. Day. Eggos aren’t the worst things in the world, and I’ve occasionally snuck in a box of whole grain frozen waffles. It’s become a running joke: I poke my head in to wake him up every morning, ask him what he wants for breakfast, and he says, “waffle, please.”
So the prospect of upping our breakfast game has been on the to-do list. The Amazon gift certificate went, in part, for a Proctor-Silex waffle iron, as reported earlier, and our initial experiments were promising. But I knew we could do better.
“What’s the ideal waffle?” I asked C. “Is it about the flavor? Or is it chewiness? Crispiness?” C advised that to him, the platonic waffle was light and crispy, “but not so crispy that you can’t cut it.” I knew what he meant. One of our first batches involved whole wheat flour. The flavor was there, in bucketfuls, but it was crusty like a loaf of bread, which made for a struggle at the table.
I got family recipes. And I got the Deborah Madison yeasted buckwheat waffle recipe from Epicurious. Yeast seemed like an obvious way to go to get the big rise that Belgian waffle dimensions need, and the fact that all of them added some baking soda as a last-minute boost seemed promising. Madison’s recipe involved buckwheat flour, which was fine, but sounded dense. We were after lightness. I remembered that Alice Water’s whole wheat biscotti recipe insisted on whole wheat pastry flour to keep things from getting bricky, and figured that this would be a magic way of getting rid of a ton of gluten while keeping a whole grain flavor…and at least some nutritive value. Sort of the opposite of souping up the pizza crust recipe with more wheat gluten, here.
Every yeasted waffle recipe I looked at involved an overnight sit in the fridge, leading to this very promising, burbling goo in the morning–quite a way to start the day. You wait on the sugar and fats until the last minute, and throw in a little boost of baking soda right before you scoop the stuff onto the waffle maker. I’m still getting the measurements right–for the record, future self, the waffle maker takes EXACTLY 3/4 cup of batter per waffle. The counter takes a good bit more, of course.
The instructions that came with the iron say to just wait until the steam stops rising before opening the thing, which is a bit vague but makes sense–you’re trying to let the batter rise and you’re trying to dry out the wettest possible dough. I found that peeking didn’t hurt at all, of course, since it lets out a huge cloud of steam. Oiling the thing between each waffle is vital–the one time I’ve forgotten the whole process ground to a halt while I dug cooked waffle out from every single crevice–and if you’re generous (I just hit it with some olive oil from the Misto), you find that you get a super crispy outside.
These have, to put it mildly, flown off the plates. They freeze really well–doughy and unpromising when you take them out of the freezer, but two minutes in the toaster and they’re even better, texture-wise, than fresh off the iron. The boy goes through a whole one every morning now, with a hit of maple syrup. And the girl’s day now starts with “waffle, please,” too.
Bonus: this week’s ice cream was maple. Country simple, we just replaced 1/4 cup of sugar with maple syrup, which I’ve done with agave and corn syrup before to get a scoopable texture out of stuff that’s been sitting in the freezer for a while. It could use more maple–maybe we’ll substitute half a cup next time–but it made for a good dessert atop a toasty whole wheat waffle. Further experimentation has been requested…
Whole Wheat Yeasted Waffles
Adapted from Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Aunt Jean’s waffle recipe
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups milk, microwaved for 30 seconds
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup plus one teaspoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Whisk yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup warm filtered water. After yeast foams, mix with milk and salt in a large bowl. Stir in flour and whole wheat pastry flour to make a very loose batter and refrigerate for 6-8 hours. Warm up waffle iron. Stir in sugar, oil, eggs, and baking soda, whisk until well blended. When iron comes up to temperature, mist with spray oil and add 3/4 cup of batter. Remove when no longer steamy, about 6 minutes. Repeat. Freeze leftover waffles in gallon Ziploc baggies, toast for 2 minutes to reheat.
January 9, 2013 § 2 Comments
Today did not start auspiciously. I was doing the 5:30 lunch assembly when something struck me as odd. It took my pre-caffeinated mind a minute or two to figure it out. The applesauce that had been sitting in the fridge overnight? Luke warm. I started feeling meat. Still cold, but not refrigerator cold.
Ugh. I had been pretty proud of myself this week for doing a comprehensive grocery run. I had stuff for five dinners, a whole crock of fermenting whole grain bread dough, a fourteen-dollar pork shoulder, on and on. The fridge couldn’t have picked last week when the kids were at K’s and my fridge had…onions and coconut water?
Fine. Bring it on, Tuesday. I got the kids off to school, hustled the pork roast, milk, eggs, and chicken into the lifeboat fridge downstairs, left messages for a couple of appliance places in town, and tried to get some zen balance with a couple of dumbells and the swiss ball. Halfway through, appliance guy calls, says he can be over in 45 minutes.
And it turns out that I’d left the freezer door ajar overnight. He charged me for the call out, but offered to clean out the vents and the compressor while he was there. And as he did so, he gave me that look that says “you know, it wouldn’t hurt you to clean this out every once in a while…” stainless-steel fridge owner.
Anyway. I’d figured that the bread crock didn’t really deserve the space it was going to take up in the lifeboat if I needed a new motor and it was going to take a week, so I had by this point made a couple of loaves and started them on their merry path. Pretty good looking loaf, given the circumstances.
I was glad to get the fridge back, of course, even if I felt like an idiot all morning. And it put the rest of the day back on track. A rest of the day that included a trial run for the new waffle maker. I found a chicken and waffle recipe a few months ago that we’ve used for fried chicken before–a wheat beer batter and a shallow pan fry have made for super-light, crispy chicken, but not until today did I have the gadget to make super-light, crispy waffles to go with those.
Well, brothers and sisters, friends of the revolution, I now have waffle gadgetry. That bad boy is a Proctor Silex Wafflematic 6000 (or some such), and it enjoyed it’s inaugural wheat beer waffling this afternoon. The recipe was super easy–baking powder and soda to get fluffy and brown, the beer to help boost things, and 6 minutes in the machine until they were full height, light and crunchy. There is no way I should be eating waffles, but these in particular are likely to prove problematic.
There’s not a lot of textural contrast on that plate, but there is a whole lot of crispy, fried goodness. C looked at his plate and asked for maple syrup, which of course bumped everything up one notch further. But he looked concerned while he was pouring it. “I don’t want to get any syrup on the chicken,” he said, “because that would be gross.”
His sister’s jaw dropped. “Are you kidding?” she said, “Gross? That could be the best thing ever.” It was not bad, for sure.
For the record, they demolished the standard bowl of veggie sticks, too, so the dinner wasn’t a complete nutritional disaster. But it was one of the kitchen’s better efforts. I have never been a clean plate parent–I like that the kids know to stop when they’ve had enough, and I’m used to scraping a pile of leftovers into tupperware. But I have to admit that I’m just slightly proud that tonight there were no leftovers. C let me know that he’s still down with frozen waffles for breakfast. But he raised the possibility that, maybe on weekends? Fresh waffles would be kind of nice.
Agreed. But with the piles of bread in the house, it’s toast tomorrow.