Curved edges. Waffles. Graphs and polynomials. It’s officially that time of year again, when the work eats at you like a parasite but the grey matter just doesn’t feel quite up to it. I wish I could blog more regularly, but then again it’s pretty comforting to know that I’ve found a nice momentum, one which doesn’t eat into too much of my time. Seeing that mock exams are nearing, this will probably be the last post for quite a while. But back to the subject and good mood of it all. This waffle beats so many I’ve tried elsewhere, and it was only my first time!
I don’t think it’s right to proclaim myself a waffle lover without having tried to make the enigmatic things myself. I mean honestly, I’ve tried too many to keep track. Call one a café hopper, waffle connoisseur, waffle whatever, but what’s criticism without humility gained from the unpredictability of a single waffle iron? And what better way to celebrate life in all its breakfast-laden glory than to use my new Severin waffle maker, with its sweet little collar? I didn’t know where to start. The problem I always have, with any recipe, is choosing from the countless resources available online. My favourite waffle, after a million waffle outings, is one with both an outrageously crisp edge, surface and interior, with just a tinge of fluffiness strewn throughout it’s (preferably thin) body. Nothing bread-dense nor tooth-shattering. It’s towards the tooth-shattering end of the spectrum, but not at all dramatic. See the picture above? Yeah, that was more of a trial. Crisp factor improved as the ladling progressed. I’m still learning, friends. It’s earthy, dark from the searing heat of the iron, mildly sweet and crisp. This recipe provides the perfect overall texture, and the secret lies within the use of both yeast and brown butter, to create a good deal of air pockets for providing the perfect crunch and chomp on first bite, and a hot, hot oven, to maintain and finalise the crisp created by the heat of the iron. The best thing is that you throw everything together the night before, which takes practically no time at all, and simply ladle in the batter into a preheated iron the morning after. Zilch waiting.
After scrolling through so many Swedish waffle recipes, I eventually settled and adapted a normal one, which isn’t exactly made for a Swedish waffle iron, but hey, it’s a waffle iron all the same. It has one job, for goodness sake.
I myself enjoy a thin, absurdly crisp waffle with tart fruit, or a small side of crisp bacon and banana coins, which complements the mildly sweet nature of the main centrepiece. Simple. Maple syrup is must; I don’t think honey, thick or runny, or anything else actually (Hershey’s chocolate or agave syrup is a straight-up no) will ever live up to the honest, musty notes of the former majesty of a condiment.
Just a note on the pictures above: As you can see, the edges are not at all firmly crisp and only the centre yielded the perfect bite. After increasing my oven temperature and watching over my waffle babies oh-so carefully, I found that the perfect time to remove them was approximately 3-5 minutes. This will ensure a perfect crust and crunch both immediately after removal, and the texture is lovingly sustained for a good few minutes afterwards. This means that my sisters could still be getting washed up in the bathroom upstairs and by the time they’re ready, the waffles don’t go all soft and moist (gross!). As compared to the original recipe, I actually added a little more yeast than intended, and used a slightly lower oven temperature, since the first trial using the higher temperature of 180C caused a couple of burnt accidents. My own fault, really, but the end result was nothing short of spectacular. I also used vanilla extract in place of the vanilla paste, and it was perfectly fine, together with a hit of cinnamon and nutmeg, for a little aroma and spice-bite.
Yeast Waffles (makes 4-5 thin waffles. Adapted from here; this article opened my eyes to the wonderful world of waffle-making and brown butter. Brown butter is gorgeous. BB. So. Gorgeous.)
30g unsalted butter
125g all-purpose flour
1 tbsp castor (fine) sugar
1 tsp fine salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2 tsp each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg (omit if you wish to keep your waffles plain)
200ml whole milk
The night before
That’s it! So, here we go. Make the brown butter. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (it won’t look like a lot), and continue to heat until you observe small flecks in the pan and the most gorgeous nutty smell starts wafting around the kitchen. These are the milk solids separating from the liquid. Keep heating over a medium heat; it will bubble and crackle. You’ll be able to see the entire thing darken, from a yellow pool of liquid with odd white bits into a golden amber. You might have to sweep up the bits of foam and bubbles to check the colour. At this point, remove the white flecks with a spoon. Set it aside, either on the counter or in the fridge. Put it in the fridge if you’re scared you overworked the lump of butter, but it should really be fine.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Whisk in the egg, and before it’s fully incorporated (it’ll look like a groggy mess of egg-white and yellow splotches), add the milk in thirds. Add a third, whisk. Add the second third, whisk. After all the milk is stirred in, add the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown butter, and gently fold everything together. The batter will be of a medium-thick consistency. If it looks too thick, add a tablespoon or two more of milk. Cover the bowl with a piece of cling film or aluminium foil and pop it in the fridge.
The morning after
Preheat your oven (this is the important step!) to 170C (340F). Remove the bowl from the fridge and turn on your waffle maker. By now you should know that these things are worth investing (in my brutally honest opinion). Mine is preheated within five minutes, and turn it to its highest setting. While waiting for everything to warm up (oven, iron and batter), make a cup of good iced coffee (or tea, if you’re that sort) and ready whatever toppings you want. Use a small ladle or quarter-cup measurement to ladle in the batter, spreading it evenly. Follow the instructions on your own iron’s manual for heating and cooking. Mine take 5 minutes exactly to reach that perfect brown shade and hard exterior. You can keep peeking under (though not too much) to check on how it’s doing. Once it’s done to your liking, immediately remove it from the iron using a spatula and pop it into the hot oven. Ladle in more batter for your second waffle. The waffle will be perfectly crisp and golden after a couple minutes in the oven, but just check on them to be sure, and don’t burn the babies.
I’m thinking of trying out a chocolate batter next time round, and perhaps changing the volume of brown butter used. In the meantime, these work a treat. Anyone can do it.