Overnight Yeast Brown Butter Waffles

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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.

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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.

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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 egg

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.

 

Oz Specialty Coffee

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I sincerely enjoy  and relish the sight of empty coffee canisters and roasters and pressers and whatnot greeting me after a draining day at school. Liz and I tirelessly searched high and low for the place, and were immensely grateful at the first sight of a gleaming black sign plastered on a glass window, the outside neatly littered with a couple of quaint, white, wooden chairs and tables. They had the pseudo-Alice-in-Wonderland thing going on. Extraordinarily tiny area, though.

Iced Mocha– $4.50
Iced Mocha– $4.50

I guess you could say there is a reason why this iced mocha is cheaper than those other crazy $8 ones you would get at the more pretentious titles around town. This one was around the length of that between my wrist and knuckles. It came with glorious streaks, a pool of rich chocolate stuck to the bottom. What I enjoyed about this iced mocha in particular is firstly, the quality of the coffee beans used. The aroma is simple; not nutty or exotic but perfect for this sort of milk-based, sweet and whimsical drink. Secondly, it was not overly sweet, drenched excessively in cheap chocolate syrup and then quickly covered up with cold whole milk to make visually appealing to the masses. No, this one is a delicate, miniature mocha. I would have perhaps preferred it a little colder, and with espresso cubes instead of the normal ones, though of course I now sound like a spoilt little coffee brat, don’t I. Keep it up, Oz. I like you already.

Salted caramel belgian Liege waffles– $7.50
Salted caramel Belgian Liege waffles– $7.50

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And I promise you it’s worth every cent. I guess you could go somewhere such as Assembly Coffee or Stranger’s Reunion for your waffle fix, though it’s most likely frustratingly crowded and you might have to force open the door to get a little fresh air amongst the clatter and chatter. This was an utterly, outrageously delectable change. They have a whole darn Belgian Liege series, for goodness’ sake, and you get two beautiful little Belgian babies in less than 15 minutes with a appropriately-sized scoop of above-average vanilla ice cream. Belgian Liege waffles are essentially the brioche of waffles– thick and sensual, thicker and chewier. You can’t not have these. Can’t. I mean, you can see the vanilla speckles, right? I wouldn’t say it’s as devilish and heat-tolerant as the ice cream at Habitat’s, which really was an unexpected dream. The ice cream here melted in heart-stopping time, and we were sitting indoors. They also offer options such as waffles with summer berries or with scrambled eggs and bacon, if you’re more of a savoury soul. The next time I pop by, I’m going to give their affogato version a try. Drizzle of espresso over thick, moist, slightly sweet and chewy 4-inch waffles. I saw pictures, ok. The dream is alive, just a few bus stops away.

Each bite was satisfying and yet not overly indulgent. The portion size is perfect, the flavours meld together beautifully. But watch out. They said salted caramel, but sadly that wasn’t what I got. One may detect traces of salt in the thick sauce, however it’s not as prominent or outstanding as what you would probably get at say, Assembly Coffee. They need to turn up the salt notch and use more authentic salted caramel, for although this was thick and lovingly true to my childhood idea of the BEST caramel sauce ever, it rendered a less sophisticated vibe with its gloopy sweetness.

Best bit: Crisp exterior and dense, mildly sweet, true-to-brioche interior.

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Raspberry cheesecake– $6

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We gave in. Ordered this.

This expensive slice has a moist and dark base, with a creamy, lightly aerated interior, though I still prefer a more buttery, tangy and coronary heart disease-inducing white filling. It’s on the sweeter side, which made it enjoyable but nothing special. That being said, I liked how it wasn’t too muggy whilst still retaining a good level of indulgence within that whipped and cheesy body. The top is raspberry jam, which yielded a sweet and tart finish.

 

Oz Specialty Coffee

#01-13, Thomson V Two, 11 Sin Ming Road

Wimbly Lu Chocolates

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I write this as a sailor stranded to my bed, the cold shivers churning my skin blue and green and all sorts of unnatural tones. I hate sickness. I hate what it does to you; the freedom it strips away from you. Food poisoning is actually the worst. So to make myself feel a little better, I’ve decided to talk about waffles. Which is easy enough, except these were particularly good waffles, and not the mediocre sort you would get from trying to make it yourself at home from a pack. Granted I’m no waffle expert, but I think I know a good one when I taste/see one. Welcome to Wimbly Lu, everyone.

Be careful, though. The chances of your bottom ruining the dainty, feminine chairs laid out as if for a 24/7 tea party is monstrously high.

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foreground: waffle with honey cinnamon ice cream with toffee sauce– $8.50 background– waffle with salted caramel ice cream and maple syrup– $8.50 nutella chocolate pie– $6
foreground: waffle with honey cinnamon ice cream with toffee sauce– $8.50
background– waffle with salted caramel ice cream and maple syrup– $8.50
nutella chocolate pie– $6

Worth it. Every single cent.

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I never really thought myself a diehard waffle fan. But I GET the appeal of these– outrageously crisp exterior, wonderfully fluffy interior. The ice cream topping was lovely, though I wish they had larger ice cream scoops. The ratio was a little off, and this fact was made even more evident as the sun ran its course, and the cream slithered into all the cute little square syrup traps and down the sides, soaking each nook and cranny, but there was just not enough of it to provide a more moderate degree of pleasure.

Honey cinnamon and salted caramel aside, they also have flavours such as cheesecake (dear lord, I was close to picking that one), rum and raisin (alright, that too), milo, brownie, chocolate truffle and vanilla bean. Doesn’t that just sound decadent.

Gosh, the crunch on that thing. My ears perked as my knife made shingle sounds, as it cut into the wonderful, brown crust. I have to say though, the waffles from Artistry still have my heart glued to its perfect little crevices.

I didn’t expect much from the nutella pie, but goodness, it was pretty much the richest chocolate pie I’ve ever had, laced with the childlike whimsy of nutella. A deep, dark ganache, not overly cloying, so thick, so beautiful. The pastry was only lightly sweetened to play off the carnal chocolate notes. It worked magnificently.

Lemon Meringue Pie–$7
Lemon Meringue Pie–$7

 

Why hi, ungroomed toes.

I read quite a bit about their famous lemon meringue pie, and I almost felt inhuman if that meant not taking one of these babies home. Just one slice, at a shocking 7 bucks, but at least it was one of those humongous slices that could last one for days on end. Quite satisfied, yes. The interior is a buttery lemon curd, topped with swirls of sweet, torched meringue, all lying on a strong pastry base, sweeter than that of the nutella pie, but justly so, for a mild sweetness was necessary to offset the jaw-tingling tang of lemon. I loved it. You will love it. Go get it.

 

Wimbly Lu Chocolates

15 Jalan Riang

6289 1489

Tues-Thurs– 12 30 to 10 30pm

Fri– 12 30 to 11pm

Sat/Sun– 9am to 11pm

Closed Mondays

 

 

 

Artistry

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Gibraltar– $4

Oh baby. We made it. Rejoice and let the angels sing in the background. All hail the world of coffee and waffles.

Seriously, it’s almost a job. By the way, did you know that cafés actually make for extremely conducive work spaces? I used to avoid them like the plague, and now look what’s bitten me. Can’t help it, I just can’t. I’m living the dream, and studying becomes so much more exciting and worthwhile beside the perfect cup of coffee. I learnt this fact today. Most glad I did, at that. Furthermore, it’s the most satisfying thing in the whole world to be able to tick a café’s name of my to-go list. Akin to having a bright, cold shower after being stuck in the heat. Almost like tasting sweet water after having none of the stuff for 12 hours straight. That’s how empowering that tick is.

Popped by this GEM of a place near Arab Street, heart on my sleeve, coffee stomach empty (and hair a little messy). After having the french toast at One Man Coffee, my friend and I decided to share just a couple of things, just so we didn’t feel like exploding halfway, a la Monty Python and the Meaning of Life. If any of you have watched it, please tell me what you think of that absurd fat suit in the comments. Moving on. Ordered a Gibraltar and the Belgian waffles at the counter, from a most charismatic and knowledgeable young man. The fancy espresso machines were smirking at us, and the kindly service was so becoming that afternoon. I couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy something good. Look, it was my first time. Sole virgin experiences don’t deserve pretentious expectations. But I tell you, oh, I tell you, I wa sseverly underestimating the quality of this space. The coffee, for one, was a dream in a cup. Not very acidic, but the beautiful roast was aromatic and kindly, bringing forth the right degree of caffeinated strength, sweetness and bitterness.

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Belgian waffles with berry compote, maple syrup (served in the sweetest 10ml laboratory beaker) and fig and honey ice cream– $7+$3+$4 ($7 for just the waffles, and each additional scoop is $3)

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You’re officially in denial if you say this isn’t a work of art.

Alright, everyone has had waffles before. Probably from a next best café, or a box mix, or something. One thing’s for sure, and that it probably doesn’t come close to the divinity my friend and I experienced that afternoon, as we sat there in the weak sun for the sake of catching this babe in the best possible light. I mean, look at that. Of course, there’s beautiful food, and then there’s beautiful and delicious food. I’m so excited to gush about how crisp, light and fluffy these were that my hands are practically flying across the keyboard and I’m constantly attacking the backspace button because I just can’t type properly with these sentiments and memories of that one waffle.

Crisp, I said. Oh, so crisp! They beat the ones I had at Assembly Coffee, and probably the ones at Strangers’ Reunion. The crunch was magnificent, angelic, but most of all, completely and utterly unexpected. Of the perfect thickness and doneness. I didn’t think they were going to be anything which surpassed mediocre. Waffles are so easy to be described as good. Shove the batter in the creviced pan and bam, you’ll probably get something nice. Decent, almost. Alright. But these are so wonderfully aerated and full of character, as if destined to be ravaged with the most extravagant of toppings, such as this gorgeous berry compote, which offered a sharp tinge of ruby citrus for our sweetened buds. The ice cream was a refreshing twist, though I can’t sing praise for that alone. The fig and honey was not evident at first bite, and offered little depth in flavour. I was surprised at how long the ball stayed in tact after spending quite a while in the heat, though, and after we went on a guilty photo-taking spree.

I’m going to try their famed cakes and PB&J french toast (goodness gracious?!) the next time, and my heart is pounding at the mere thought of such undeserved extravagance.

Tune in to your senses at Artistry. Read a book. Soak in some jazz. Pretty magic.

Rating: 4.8/5.0

Artistry Café

17 Jalan Pinang

6298 2420
Singapore 199149
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-7pm

Assembly Coffee

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Everyone please assemble.

Another post dedication to my new café buddy, Liz! Yes, this one is for you, you pink kitty hoarder. (I know you are, deep deep down). Café visiting (the term hopping is a little oversubscribed now, isn’t it) is an actual addiction, I may embarrassedly admit. See, I would be at school working on my extended essay, but since they didn’t have the chemicals I needed that day for me to continue playing at and experimenting with waxy red lipstick, I jumped at the chance to pop by a new café relatively near where I stay. We squealed like idiots over the mere idea, but I don’t regret any willful squeal. No, I don’t really squeal. But for coffee and salted caramel waffles? Yes, I do squeal. Assembly it was.

I said it. Salted caramel waffles. I wondered if they would be comparable to the ones we had at Strangers’ Reunion, that nicely hidden waffle haven, propped up in the middle of a pancake stack of old Chinese shophouses will colourful boards and near-garish signs. This place wasn’t quite as hidden, seeing as it was tucked away nicely near the Botanical Gardens, where my father and I walk to every single Sunday anyway. A huge ‘A’ greeted the two of us as we approached, which really appealed to me in particular, for dreadfully obvious reasons. I liked that a lot.

Before I blabber on the wonders of crisp and fluffy waffle world, I’d just like to apologise in advance for the iPhone-quality photos. Special creds to Liz’s cam, she’s lovely for letting me snap away like a deranged foodie lunatic , but no, I don’t always happen to have my Nikon handy. And you know what? These preserve memories just as well.

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Iced Mocha- $5.00
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Salted caramel buttermilk waffles- $11.50

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The place was much more of a nook than a full-blown artisan café yard, which was more charming than off-putting, and hey, at least the place wasn’t fusty. Lit golden from the back interior, with a couple of round tables exposed to some soft sunlight. Almost in love already. After some surprising encounters with old faces, we sat down. A woman (who apparently is also the barista) was walking around, pretty heavy-handed with her red lipstick, gathering cups and saucers of quirky, contrasting colours (think lavender and a bright sun-yellow). I didn’t miss out the arrangement of homemade cakes at the front either. Assembled at Assembly Coffee. Quite ready, quite thirsty.

The iced mocha is nothing to shout feather and fame about. It was, frankly, a milky mess with a dusting of added sweetener, severely lacking in any rich mocha flavour, let alone a smidgen of caffeine. I remember admiring the traditional gradient of colour as it was brought to the table, rising from steep chocolate to alluring white with flecks of cocoa on top. The first sip was all milk, so I went ahead and stirred rather thoroughly, like how you would attempt to dissolve sodium hydrogen-carbonate in water with a glass rod to make the perfect 3% concentration. And still, mostly milk. Mostly. Alright, it was decent and refreshing, albeit far from impressive. I’ve encountered worse and I’ve had spectacular. Fell on either a 4 or 5.

The waffles came like an angel on wings shortly after. Rough-handed squeezing for that criss-crossed weaving of salted caramel, a patchwork of beckoning, tongue-tingling sweetness atop a 7-inch wide babe of buttermilk waffle. And for the heck of it, a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In all honesty, that one scoop did no justice for the pairing. There should have been at least two (and gargantuan scoops, at that) to balance the rigid honesty and fluffiness of waffle with cool vanilla and salted caramel. I took my first bite, after carefully laying a bite of waffle with a good smear of caramel and ice cream. Flavours played like kids in my mouth.

Ok, it’s not exactly the bomb diggity salted caramel buttermilk mania. Once again, a serious lacking of salt in that department, but nevertheless, one cannot refuse to appreciate or acknowledge the humble beauty of that waffle. Decently crisp on the outside, with a white, light and fluffy belly. Note how I said decent. Which basically means they could’ve upped the crisp factor just that little bit more. The sort of waffle which would go all nice and squidgy after a few turns with ice cream. Buttermilk clearly does wonders in any waffle case. The ice cream offered a good vanilla flavour, though don’t expect anything artisan. They should definitely consider adding a menu option of ‘two scoops’. Really. These were good, no, great waffles, but something about them made me feel as if they still did not quite match up to the ones at Strangers’ Reunion, for those alone were absolute perfection on a plate. If I may recall correctly, they were even more crisp with better aeration throughout its slightly thicker body. Don’t get me wrong, the ones at Assembly are perfectly desirable little circles of goodness, and they went perfectly with two hours of conversation and iced home brew, but they aren’t the ones I would claim to be stellar, or the best.

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Passionfruit meringue tart– $6

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Tart tart. Sweet meringue. Dense, rich, not overly cloying, balanced with the only mildly sweet cracker crust. A beautiful ochre colour. Honestly, there was nothing to complain about there. My fork sank to the bottom with the right tension as it eased through the thick, I’m-holdin-it-together passionfruit curd, which yielded the most wonderful bright notes, playing up the heavily whipped meringue and carefree crust. Loved. It. And would you look at the caramel curls on top.

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As I left, I bought a slice of their homemade strawberry cheesecake for $6.50. As a child, I was a cheesecake aficionado, and seeing this humbly decorated cherub in the glass display brought about a myriad old memories, coated with rich cream cheese. I excitedly opened the square plastic packet when I got home. Too excited to take a picture, obviously. I let my fork slide right into its insides, and then nudged at the tender biscuit crust beneath. Immediately, I sensed a definite sogginess at the bottom, realising that it was probably due to the moist body of cake. It was half-collapsing, almost broken into two messy halves. A quick bite left me disappointed, for it was neither tart nor rich, despite yielding a good amount of sweetness. Pale, numb, young. The only thing which should be improved on is the structure and signature tanginess of a good cheesecake, because the ease with which my fork underwent was slightly worrying. I had a half slice anyway, because on the whole, it’s a good homemade cheesecake (with a few limp,thinly-sliced strawberries on top. Who else loves picking glazed fruit off cake? It’s a carnal pleasure).

They call it third-wave coffee movement. I say I’m coming back for the hot coffees and yolk-impregnated eggs.

Rating: 4.0/5

Assembly Coffee
26 Evans Road
Singapore 259367

Telephone: +65 6735 5647