Good morning? Is it safe to come out? I have been in hiding, taking an enforced break, so that I could catch up with everything else (work, book writing, the small matter of publishing a book myself), for it was all becoming a bit overwhelming, and I was losing sight of myself. But I am back now, and I am not very good at taking breaks anyway. My break actually turned out to be an intensive whirlwind of writing, cooking and planning; plotting travels too, and lots to share here. Mainly in my pjs, but you can forgive me that. And maybe you are guilty of wanting that for yourself?
I wanted to just indulge myself this morning, and write forever about Australia. One of my favourite places to visit, but not just me, the Economist listed four Australian cities in the Top 10 best places to live. I could easily live there, maybe even move in the morning for a bit, but London’s tentacles tend to keep me here. I love London, but you know, the weather, and everything is expensive, and I will likely forever have to rent. Sometimes, it grates. As it should.
Australia, yes! But then I thought, maybe I should indulge & nourish you first? Set you up for a week of travel joy before I head to France, and share some more. I will share a lovely new waffle recipe, and then come back with stories, when you are comfortable and well nourished. For these are very good and healthy too.
Now, I used buckwheat flour for these waffles. Why? Flavour, of course, that lovely amber nuttiness, speaking softly of Breton crepes, but in the firm shape of a waffle (buckwheat flour is used for crepes, you see). Buckwheat flour is not actually a wheat, it is a seed, and I used a sprouted one, which is expensive but it is very healthy too (sprouting increases the nutrition available to my battered body, which is very welcome). It is good to mix things up, in terms of flavour, but also for nutrition. As it is not a wheat, it is gluten free too, although I used some plain flour with it. If you are coeliac / gluten intolerant, just use all buckwheat flour here instead.
It is forced rhubarb season. Forced rhubarb being a type of Victorian magic that Yorkshire has retained. Rhubarb is grown in the dark, forced under large terracotta pots. It reaches for a light that it will never see, said to squeak as it does, before it’s slender bright sweet sour pink limbs are harvested by candlelight and by hand. I had some lovely apples from my farmers market (Evita was the name, sweet and a little sharp), and I cooked them gently together with a small bit of water and a squeeze of honey.
I needed texture. Waffles are super, and often crisp, but these buckwheat waffles tend towards nice and soft. So I candied some hazelnuts in honey and butter. And tried not to eat them all as I did. I did burn my mouth at least once. Was it worth it? I think so, although I am still a little sore this am. I also stabbed myself with a blunt knife trying to remove them from a plate (I recommend greaseproof here, please use it). Yesterday was great for eating, but injuries were plenty, and more sleep was required.
Notes on the recipe: gluten free folks, omit the plain flour and use all buckwheat. I use plain flour to pull it all together a little, but the recipe will still work well without it. Use whatever waffle maker you like. I have stovetop, non stick, cast iron and electric. I used electric for these, for convenience. If you can’t have dairy, substitute a nut or soya milk for the milk, and coconut oil for the butter in the waffles and in he nuts.
Recipe: Buckwheat Waffles with Rhubarb, Apple & Candied Hazelnuts
Makes approx 8 waffles
200g buckwheat flour
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp brown sugar
pinch sea salt
2 large eggs
25g melted butter
Apple & Rhubarb
250g rhubarb, chopped into 2 cm chunks if slender, 1 cm if thick
3 small eating apples, best if a little sour (evita like I used, coxs or pink lady), cored & diced small, skin on
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
optional drizzle of cream, for those feeling indulgent
Candy the hazelnuts by melting the butter with the honey and heating until bubbling and starting to move towards amber (but still golden and not dark). Add the hazelnuts and stir in for a couple of minutes. Pour the nuts and caramel on to a greaseproof sheet and leave to cool.
Put the apples, rhubarb, honey and water in a small pot. Bring to the boil and cook for a few minutes until the fruit is tender but still holds its shape. Check for sweetness, add more honey if necessary, and adjust to your taste.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat the eggs with the milk, then add the melted butter. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, drawing in the dry ingredients as you do. Mix until there are no lumps, then leave to sit for 15 minutes. Preheat your waffle maker.
My waffle maker is non stick so I don’t need to grease it. If yours isn’t, add some butter first. Then put a ladel full of batter for each waffle (depending on the size of your waffle plates). Cook until done, they won’t entirely crisp. But you won’t miss that.
Serve hot with the fruit and hazelnuts, and cream if you are indulging. Enjoy!