Black Sesame Waffles and Lemon Curd

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Do you feel the same emotional high as I after creating a meaningful breakfast? Such that it ceases to be a shallow acquaintance in the morning, disappearing as fast as it appeared– head to table, then head to door. It’s so much more than that. It’s a tuning into the senses, savouring a myriad of plant-based foods that nourish and lighten the soul, the abundance of classic and sometimes unexpected flavours colouring the rest of your day with creativity and comfort.

Just as how some people have shaped and supplied your existence over x number of years, food too mirrors this truth. In clashing flavours, harmony is found.

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There’s no ‘right’ time to treat yourself. Lately I’ve been re-focussing once more on the importance of routine, which really does free up a lot of creative head space during the day. Suffice to say that, upon the first moments of rising, after a cleansing elixir of which recipe I modified from various parts of the Internet  (1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, juice of half a lemon, top up the rest of my 750ml glass with filtered water, mix mix mix), meditation, a short workout and mini journalling session, a generous, flavourful, exotic breakfast is always welcome.

Black sesame, matcha, red bean. These are the flavours which still call to be delivered on an almost-daily basis. The magical trip to Japan was bookmarked with earthy flavour, soil and icy freedom etched in the wintery grey skies. These waffles are a throwback to some charcoal waffles I used to travel far for back in Singapore, though are richer in traditional goma flavour instead of being just, well, black. The use of activated charcoal here helps the colour, though that is optional. What makes it special is a black sesame paste made of finely ground black sesame, maple syrup and sesame oil. The ratio of the paste is much more coarse than that for the actual waffles, but as long as you get a relatively coarse, all-black paste then you’re set and ready to go.

And this lemon curd! Ah lemon curd, something I have unconsciously craved for so long and have failed to substitute with various tangy yoghurts and the morning lemon wash, has finally made a sturdy comeback. All vegan, all delicious, creamy and silky. I used agar powder since I did not have vegan gelatin on hand, but use the latter if you do have it. The agar promotes a more jelly-like flavour so use much less of it. Another great thing is that you can make both waffles and curd at the same time, and not waste time making one thing after the other. If lemon curd isn’t really your thing, these waffles would pair well with most anything else– this morning I coupled a toasted one with tahini, frozen fruit and maple syrup, the white pasty sesame-y tahini (yeah, to think I speak and type English) amping the roasted, toasted flavour of the black sesame paste in the waffles. The lemony curd cuts through this pastiness, a sunny break.

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Crispy, chewy black sesame waffles with lemon curd (makes 6 medium, or 5×6-inch waffles)

Ingredients

90g all-purpose flour

90g oat flour (store-bought or process 90g oats in a food processor; alternatively substitute with another flour of choice, be it plain, spelt, or perhaps a gluten-free option)

35g cornstarch

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar of choice– I used coconut, you can use plain/brown/maple/golden caster

Optional: 1 tbsp activated charcoal powder (you can get this in powder form, or cut open the capsules to release the powder inside)

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the black sesame paste: 65g roasted black sesame seeds+ 2 tbsp each of maple syrup and sesame or vegetable oil

2 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

1 tbsp melted vegan butter

350ml plant milk of choice (I used almond; you could use soy/cashew/oat)

For the lemon curd:

The juice of 1 lemon

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp agar powder, or 2 tbsp gelatin powder

a light pinch of turmeric, for colour (literally just the tiniest smidgen)

a pinch of salt

3 tbsp maple syrup (or agave nectar)

3-4 tbsp plant-based yoghurt (I used soy)

240ml plant milk of choice (I used almond)

 

Directions

First, make the black sesame paste. In a food processor, process the black sesame seeds until fine. This will take quite a while, perhaps at least a couple of minutes (well it took a while for me, at least). Once they look quite fine, add the maple syrup and oil and pulse again until everything is well combined. The paste should be dark and sticky.

In a separate bowl, weigh out all your dry ingredients and mix together well. Add the charcoal powder, then all the wet ingredients. Mix everything together until just combined. The mixture should be moderately thick, dark, and have speckles of the black sesame paste. Heat up your waffle iron according to its instructions and ladle in your glossy, dark batter. Do not put too much or the batter could seep over the sides once you close the lid. Wait for at least 3-4 minutes before opening the lid and checking. Mine does not need flipping over so I only had to close the lid for a couple more minutes again.

While the waffles are cooking, you can combine the ingredients for the lemon curd except for the yoghurt in a small saucepan. Mix everything together well then bring the contents to a boil. Once boiling, take the pan off the heat. This part is important! It may look as though the mixture is still very liquidy, but that’s how it should be. Leave it to cool while you deal with the waffles. After half an hour, take a spoon and mix the curd. It should be a little jelly-like, or at least thick. Add the yoghurt and mix to lighten the colour and smooth the flavour (otherwise its a little too intense).

The waffles and curd will keep for up to a week in your fridge, or you can freeze both and heat up either whenever you want. Serve with each other, with maple syrup and fresh fruit. Bliss, at its true finest.

Chocolate Chip Waffles

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Things to note this past week:

My class’s Friday book/film club is adorable and is the perfect excuse to bake every Thursday night if not being lazy.

The National Gallery is an underrated treasure here in London.

Another underrated food is caramelised banana.

Learning is the right balance of acceptance and curiosity.

The bright and vivid, dark ink of a new pen is almost orgasmic.

I picked at a mostly dry stack of buckwheat pancakes the other Saturday and am now afraid of ordering pancakes or waffles somewhere ever again. Today’s post is thus born out of a love for the neglected kitchen, a strong tribute to the homemakers of the century– who needs waffles outside when you can make amazing ones within the warm comfort of your home, to accompany a freshly brewed Nespresso cuppa, a book or probing documentary, and mountains of whatever toppings you would like?

Now that the first huge set of assignments are done, I’m relaxing with my waffles, already on my second cup of coffee. As I type, some doughnuts hibernate behind me. A free Wednesday is therapeutic and needed, sometimes. I think I spend all my money on flour and nothing else. Flour, frozen berries, bread and veggies. Those top the list. What else is required for a happy life; what else is needed to dedicate concentration to the hours that don’t make up breakfast, lunch and dinner?

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These waffles. They’re thick. They burst and bubble with specks of chocolate, all crisp round the edges and mildly chewy everywhere else. The rims and ridges are sharp and taut, ravines ready to catch your lashings of maple syrup (didn’t have any syrup this time sadly, so used blackstrap molasses which did the trick anyway). You probably can’t tell, but the first picture shows a plain version, the second is chocolate chip-stuffed. Depending on your mood, make either, but at your own caution, for chocolate, melting and caught between each crevice, really makes all the difference.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Waffles For One (scale up for more people as needed)

Ingredients

25g rolled oats

120g plain flour (or whole-wheat if you prefer)

35-40g chopped dark chocolate

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

120ml (1/2 cup) almond milk, or any other plant milk (soy/coconut/oat) you have

3 tbsp olive/coconut oil/vegan butter (doesn’t have to be melted, as long as it’s soft or at room temperature)

3 tbsp maple syrup/blackstrap molasses/rice syrup (use honey if you’re not vegan)

 

Directions

Tip all ingredients into a bowl and mix until all is well combined. The mixture should be like a thick cake batter; add more flour if it isn’t. You could do this the night before and pop the bowl into your fridge so you save a little time in the morning when you make it!

Preheat your waffle iron according to its instructions, grease with whatever fat you used in the batter itself (in this case I used coconut oil) and pour the batter in, making sure not to exceed the tips of the iron ridges. Cook until the surfaces are lightly browned. My waffle iron doesn’t require me to flip the waffles over, but if you feel the heating is uneven, go ahead and do just that after 3-4 minutes, depending on how fast and strong your iron is. This recipe makes about 2 thick waffles, a generous serving for one person, but sharing with someone else works too. Freeze any extras and toast in your toaster when you want to have them again. Soooo good with thick and creamy soy yoghurt, berries, caramelised banana (see above) and maple syrup.

Fudge Brownie Waffles

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I had the pleasure of being interviewed earlier on in the week by the lovely Rachel Loh, the name behind lifestyle blog Willow. Working on the theme of disconnection, it boasts a bevy of detail I would not typically reveal online, even in my instagram posts or elsewhere. It was so much fun answering and I would love for you to check it out here.

 

So last Saturday I came back from a rather disappointing visit to a relatively new café, and needed a fresh pick-me-up in the sweltering heat. But the heat also means light, and I’ve found great solace in my mornings alone journalling, the light yellowing the pages, coming and leaving of its own accord.

As it appears, flowers still grow in the dessert. This recipe was borne out of angry determination; I oft find myself thinking about veganism and how it should be made approachable or the norm to more people around me, and figured introducing classic favourites is the way to go. Who in their right mind would refuse a good, gooey brownie? Forget about it being ethical or healthy or whatnot, it tastes good, right? Food opinions are volatile, changed by taste alone. The line between veganism and sin-like lusciousness and satisfaction must be blurred. I never wanted to go vegan for the longest time because my idea of vegan food was worms and cardboard. That’s what some vegan cakes really taste like, anyway. But this is never always the case. Surprise yourself, and surprise others.

 

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Simply put, the highlight of anyone’s day.

The theme is approachability, guys. This is the sin everyone is looking for in an acceptable form. Double chocolate brownie waffles studded with chocolate, crisp-edged with a tender, gooey middle.

It’s not just a one-bowl wonder, it’s a time-saving wonder. If you’re like me and typically have to rush off to work by 8.30am in the morning, simply make the batter in less than 5 minutes the night before, let rest in the fridge overnight and scoop out batter for the waffle-maker the next morning. You could even just bake these for fudge brownie cookies in a 180C oven for 10 minutes. I say that like I actually did it, but do tell me if they work, because I can’t be the only one to have fun while making some (necessary) mistakes, right? The batter is like unexpected cash, you can do way more with it than you might initially think. For example, I made a fudge brownie waffle sundae by sandwiching two waffle bits with coconut ice cream (I love Luna and Larry’s!) and drizzling it with some chocolate sauce, which I made just by mixing some cocoa powder, icing sugar and almond milk together. How wonderful is experimentation. How life-giving and meditative.

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Ingredients (makes 6-7 medium-sized waffles)

125g all-purpose (plain flour)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

30g cacao/cocoa powder

1 large mashed banana (125g), or two small mashed ones. Alternatively, you could use the same weight of applesauce.

40g (a large handful) of vegan chocolate chips, I used these

40g white/coconut/maple sugar

 

Directions

Simply put all ingredients in a bowl and mix until everything comes together. Turn your waffle-maker on and let it heat up according to its instruction manual. Grease it well! Take a heaped tablespoonful of the chocolate batter and put it in the centre of your waffle maker and let cook on a medium-high heat for at least 5 minutes. This is important in making sure your waffles turn out as crisp as possible, You can check after 3 minutes– if the waffles still feel soft to touch then leave it for another few minutes.

Separate your waffles with paper towels to absorb any condensation. You can freeze these waffles for future consumption or leave at room temperature in an airtight container for 1-2 days. If eating the next day and the waffles are left out on the counter, toast them for those crisp edges once more; they would’ve softened within the day.

And now for some fun!

If you’re making a waffle sundae (as pictured above), simply sandwich two waffles or waffle halves with some dairy-free ice cream and drizzle with some chocolate sauce. I did this by mixing a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder, 3 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar and a couple teaspoons of almond milk. Play around until you get a relatively thick, dribbling consistency.

 

 

Pandan Waffles

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Really a pretty great thing.

After a long day at the lab (currently participating in a long but fascinating internship involving incredibly novel anticancer research, and I couldn’t be more grateful at this point in time), I relished a wholesome family dinner, then tried to resist a nighttime urge to bake, or do anything at all in the kitchen. As usual, I failed miserably.

I don’t like to stick to a certain theme more than once or twice at a go, but after making kaya mochi just a few days ago, there lingered the odd inclination to play around with one of my favourite childhood spreads once again. Kaya, if you don’t know already, is the most delicious South East Asian coconut pandan spread, which to me is right on par with drippy, sweet, delicious almond butter or a lovingly homemade marmalade– yes it’s that sublime. Pandan is the tropical leaf from which kaya is made from. Earthy, sticky, sweet. There are lots of made-for-toast spreads out there that I adore, but kaya is childhood, kaya is rich nonchalance. What I spread on my burnt toast with butter, each bite a sticky mess of equal parts green and white (from unmelted butter).

This recipe is based on one of my favourite personal recipes– soda water waffles! Clickidy click that link for a classic version, or if you don’t really have a thing for kaya/anything pandan-flavoured. It’s the soda water that breathes life into the batter, added just before the kiss of heat, making the final result as light and airy as ever. Another perk? Made using sweet potato flour as a rather haphazard and weird experiment, it’s entirely gluten-free. Haphazard because this is my first time experimenting with sweet potato flour, which is one of the finest, almost delicate flours I’ve come across. Everything made with it will be of a relatively thin consistency, permeated with an au natural chew. Definitely looking into using it more, for what I’m not sure just yet; I’m only excited to incorporate more gluten-free options to accommodate any of you coeliacs out there. Of course, you can substitute this with normal flour, and this will yield a slightly less chewy and probably more refined-looking waffle. Indeed, this isn’t the prettiest of waffles, but goodness the outside crisp is outrageous. The chew on this is also slightly ridiculous, and funnily enough reminds me of that kaya mochi I made not too long ago. An eerie similarity resulting from subconscious fashioning of the past. Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Pandan waffles (makes 6-7 thin Swedish waffles, modified from here)

Ingredients

240g sweet potato flour (substitute with 200g all-purpose flour)

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

2 tbsp coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk of choice (I used almond)

3 heaping tbsp store-bought or homemade kaya

1 drop pandan extract (bought at your local oriental store)

80g melted, unsalted butter

1 cup soda water

 

Directions

Preheat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients– flour, leavening agents, salt and sugar. Add the egg, milk, pandan extract, melted butter, kaya, and lastly, the soda water. Cook in the preheated iron according to the iron’s instructions. In my Sevren waffle maker, it took 4-5 minutes before the edges went crisp and golden.

These freeze wonderfully. Let the waffles cool on a cooling rack, before layering them with pieces of parchment between each waffle so they don’t stick together when you take them out the next morning. The next morning, take them out, microwave for 20 seconds, then stick in the toaster until golden and crisp again. Go wonderfully with banana, anything coconut-themed (I used coconut sugar), and peanut butter!

Soda Water Waffles

Yeah. you heard right. And yes, it works.

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I first came across the idea on Entertaining with Beth, aka one of the few domestic channels I bother to watch on Youtube. This wonderful lady labours tirelessly in the kitchen to find the perfect formula for the most basic whip-ups, be it pancakes, waffles, cupcakes or brownies, and I admire her efforts to help us peasants. But! I was hesitant to try this out for a few reasons:

– I don’t have a proper belgian waffle maker. There. I said it. So how on earth was I to recreate some glorious dish without the proper instrument? I live with Child No. 1, who’s Swedish (Sevren), thin, with scalloped edges. It’s not the same (on the point that I don’t have a belgian waffle maker.. yeah, something must change).

– Secondly, I always have a problem with timing… and storage. I was worried about how well these would freeze and toast up, and how long it would take for the same crisp factor to be achieved in a very different waffle maker.

– Third… okay fine, it’s just two.

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I obtained the desirable crunch factor on my third waffle… By accident (above picture). Third try. During the first two tries, I got some lovely crisp ones, but they were thick and still a little dense in the middle. It was only on my third go, with hardly any batter left, that I realised that the trick to The Rich Crisp, if you’re using this waffle maker, is to use less than half a cup of batter, so that there are still holes and gaps are pouring into the mold. It’s only this way that the entire waffle can get nice, dark and crisp.

They are light, slightly tender in the middle, and the edges are thin enough to break off like gingersnap. The magic lies in all that butter and soda water, providing tenderness and lift respectively. The base batter itself is plain and versatile, so go crazy with the toppings in the morning.

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Soda Water Waffles (makes 6-7 thin waffles)

180g white flour

1 tbsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

pinch salt

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup (240ml) milk of choice (I used almond)

80g melted, unsalted butter

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup (240ml) soda water

Preheat your waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients– flour, leavening agents, salt and sugar. Add the egg, milk, vanilla extract, melted butter and lastly, the soda water. Cook in the preheated iron according to the iron’s instructions. In my Sevren waffle maker, it took 4-5 minutes before the edges went crisp and golden.

These freeze wonderfully. Let the waffles cool on a cooling rack, before layering them with pieces of parchment between each waffle so they don’t stick together when you take them out the next morning. The next morning, take them out, microwave for 20 seconds, then stick in the toaster until golden and crisp again.

Topping suggestions:

– a cookie crumbled on top (I used Lotus caramelised cookies), chopped fruit, sprinkled with some coarse salt and maple syrup

– good old salted butter and maple syrup

– nut butter, banana and honey

Treat the little fellas like toast and have a b.a.l.l.