January 26, 2012
Dear Reader, please forgive my belatedness with this week’s post. It’s the germiest time of the year as far as teaching in a middle school is concerned, and I’ve been home sick for a couple of days.
To that end, I’m afraid I don’t have anything witty or profound or even very meaningful, except for this recipe, which yields Belgian waffles so ridiculously good that I wonder how I ever lived without a waffle iron before. (My mom, who is probably now worried after reading that I’ve been sick—I’m okay, mama! Don’t worry!—bought me one for Christmas and I didn’t think I would use it that much. BOY WAS I WRONG).
We served these waffles to company last weekend and they swooned. The best part is that you can make the yeasted batter the night before, leaving it out on room temperature for a few hours before stashing it in the fridge. Wake up the next morning, and voila! Waffles. And not just any waffles, mind you. These are crisp and toothsome on the outside, pliant and buttery on the inside. So. stinkin’. good.
Since I’m still getting to know my waffle iron, please tell me—what else should I be using it for? I’d love any sweet or savory recipes you are willing to share in the comments.
adapted from Food & Wine, November 2011
The original recipe calls for Belgian pearl sugar, which is tricky to find and ridiculously expensive (I paid $11 for the small jar you see below). While the large spheres of sugar do add a lovely crunch and help the outside of the waffles brown, I found I was able to get almost exactly the same effect with the far less expensive demerara (also known as turbinado) sugar.
There are lots of flavoring possibilities here: vanilla bean, as written below, is the most traditional, but I’ve also made a batch with a teaspoon-or-so of orange blossom water added in, and am thinking next time, I’ll try a saffron-cardamom combination.
1 ½ T light brown sugar
1 ¾ tsp. active dry yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract (or the scrapings of half a vanilla bean)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup demerara sugar or 1 cup Belgian pearl sugar
In a small bowl, whisk the brown sugar & yeast into lukewarm water and let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour with the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix on medium until shaggy, about 1 minute.
Add the eggs one at time, mixing for a few seconds between each egg. Slowly mix in the melted butter and vanilla; the batter will be very thick and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let the batter rise for about two hours.
At this point, you can stir the batter and place it in the fridge overnight. Go to sleep and dream of waffles!
Okay, when you’re ready to make the waffles, do a couple of things: place a baking sheet in your oven and preheat it to warm, stir the sugar into your waffle batter, & melt a little more butter (yeah, these waffles are going to taste goooood).
As a cautionary measure, place a baking sheet underneath your waffle iron, then heat it up to its “golden brown” setting (for my little Cuisinart iron, that’s somewhere between 3 and 4). Once the waffle iron is ready, brush with a bit of melted butter and then spread no more than a ¼ cup of batter onto the iron, pressing down with the lid to distribute. The batter is going to be very thick and you’ll think there’s no way it will make a full waffle, but don’t add more batter! You will just make a big mess if you do this (so says the voice of experience).
Cook according to your waffle iron manufacturer’s directions until golden and crisp—transfer to the oven and continue making waffles until all of the batter is gone. Serve the waffles with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit, and/or some combination of the above.