The Definitive Guide to Waffles
Waffles, pancakes with abs right? If you know me, you know I love pancakes. But I have a special place for a crispy, light and flavorful waffle. Whatever your preferences are for waffles, here is your definitive guide to rockstar of breakfast and brunch...waffles.
Yes, smarty pants, you should always read a recipe in full before attempting to cook it. But it's especially important here: Some recipes call for proofing yeast, which takes at least eight hours. In that case, you'll need to mix the batter the night before you plan on making waffles. “I didn't realize that they needed to proof overnight until I had the syrup out on the counter." Oops.
Whether your waffles are yeasted or not, the key to a successful one is in a light and fluffy, not dense and doughy, texture (we’re not making pancakes here, people). You can lighten the batter in one of two ways. First, you could separate the egg yolk and white. Whip the whites into a frothy texture, then gently fold them in to the rest of the mix. Or, you could whip unsweetened cream and fold that in. Either way, use a delicate hand so as not to deflate the whites or whipped cream. This results in a batter that's light and ethereal, but not overly rich.
While nailing a waffle's ideal texture is an elusive game, there's one surefire way to mess it up: Using a flour with too much protein structure. This eliminates bread flour, which is great for chewy loaves but too heavy for waffles. On the flip side, waffles aren't as flaky-delicate as baked goods, making pastry flour too fine for the job. Good old AP, or all-purpose, flour is where it's at. If you want to sprinkle in a tablespoon or two of buckwheat or rye flour for added nutty heft, go for it. If you want to use a store-bought mix… at least promise us you'll get out the real maple syrup.
Don't let a good batter go to waste by losing it to the wafflemaker. Even nonstick irons can do with a lube-up. While you could hose it down with nonstick cooking spray, we prefer to spread a little butter on and in between the grooves before ladling in the batter. Butter aids in browning and, yep, tastes a lot better.
"You're really going to let a machine that's been shoved in the back of your pantry tell you when the waffles are done cooking? Excellent point. Use your nose and eyes to determine when the waffles are done cooking. They should smell toasty and nutty, and should definitely have a little color on them. Not only does cooking them to golden-brown give a better, crisp texture, it adds flavor. While that iconic "ding!" may be part of the fun, don't let it dictate the waffles' cooking time.
Waffles for dinner? There’s no reason you can't go full-on savory with your waffles. These ham and cheese waffles are one of my favorite savory versions. Other add-ins to try? Finely chopped roasted veggies, leftover shredded pork or rotisserie chicken, fresh herbs, and sautéed onions, leeks, garlic, and/or shallots. Now quit waffling around and, uh... you know.
CRISPY AF WAFFLES
Makes about 4 waffles
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar or plain vinegar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mix the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Prepare the batter: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk, vinegar, melted butter, and vanilla until well-combined. Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to just combine, being careful not to overmix; there should be a few small lumps of flour in the batter.
Prepare the waffle iron: Preheat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Whip the egg whites: In a perfectly clean stainless steel mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, then continue to beat until soft peaks form.
Fold the whipped whites into the batter: With a silicone spatula, gently scoop the whipped whipped egg whites into the batter. Then scoop them from underneath, along with some of the batter, very gently turning the whole thing over. Repeat until just incorporated.
Cook the waffles: Spoon or pour the batter into the waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually for 2 to 3 minutes. (You will need 1/2 to 2/3 cup of batter per waffle for a Belgian or big waffle maker, but the size can vary quite a bit. Consult the manufacturer's instructions for each model for specific guidelines.)
Keep the waffles warm: To keep the waffles warm when making a big batch, place a baking rack on a baking sheet and arrange the cooked waffles in a single layer on it. Place in a 200°F oven to keep warm.
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