So hopefully you have all got your waffle irons right now, and are ready for some waffle slinging action. I have another waffle recipe and it is a cracker.
The US and Europe have distinct culinary influences. I never heard of Julia Child until I was obsessed with cookbooks, well into adulthood, and foraging for inspiration amongst culinary bookshelves. I grew up with Darina Allen, and later other grand dames like Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey and Elizabeth David. In the US, Julia Child was the first port of culinary call for most, and similarly their different cultural influences point to different everyday recipes, which brings me neatly to the raised waffle, or waffle at all, in fact.
Waffles in Ireland were of the frozen potato variety (which are a guilty pleasure, I must confess). As a child in the eighties, my cultural influences were intensely Irish with a little bit of other cultures from TV (which at that time was mainly the golden age of Hollywood at weekends, which is perhaps one reason why I so love everything vintage). At that time, we were a small monocultural island, particularly in rural Ireland where I grew up. Waffles that you might make yourself or have for dessert were an alien concept. Now, of course, I know that they are a big hit in lots of places: Belgium, Scandinavia and the US for starters. But in Ireland? Especially Ireland, then? Not so much. Pumpkins and waffles, I saw them on TV but they were not part of my reality. We used sugar beets plundered from local fields for Halloween Jack o’ Lanterns (and did they stink when we put candles in them).
I recently hosted an evening with Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen in London. Toast had asked me to interview Deb as she cooked, food blogger to food blogger, as well as host a Q&A. Well, I love to chat so no problem. Deb is smart, sassy and charming, and it wasn’t long before she had the audience – literally – eating out of her hand. Several of us had made some of her recipes you see, and I had brought along her coffee toffee (which is very good, and I recommend you make it). When I mentioned to a friend that I would be hosting the evening, she chirruped: oh please tell Deb that I made her raised waffles for the whole family last week, and everyone loved them.
Raised waffles, you say? I must investigate.
It quickly became clear that these are an archetypal American recipe. Deb has posted a recipe for Essential Raised Waffles (from Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book), Mark Bittman too in one of his cookbooks, and many others. The first mention of them in a cookbook appears to be in Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Boston Cooking School Cookbook.
The recipe itself is simple enough. Dried yeast is woken gently from its slumber with hand warm water. Then flour, gentle warmed milk, melted butter and a teaspoon of sugar and also salt are added – the milk and butter warmed to soothe and encourage the yeast – and the batter is left out overnight, covered but at room temperature (this helps with the flavour, but if you are worried – although don’t be – you can keep it in the fridge). The next morning, a small amount of baking powder is added, just to give the now sleepy batter some lift, and some eggs are blended in too.
I used my cast iron stove top waffle maker (see previous post for details), and cooked the waffles over a medium heat. Just 4-5 minutes each side revealed a crisp intensely savoury waffle with a fluffy extremely light interior. These are very different to normal waffles, which have a lot more sugar, and for me, scream chocolate sauce as a weekend accompaniment. This morning I ate them with maple syrup but a light dusting of icing sugar and some fruit would be lovely also.
The recipe is fairly robust. The yeast is quite sleepy the next day and keeps well if you make them for lunch instead of for breakfast.
Enjoy! You might also like to try my Spelt & Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta & Maple Syrup.
Recipe: Raised Waffles
adapted from Smitten Kitchen who used the original Fannie Farmer recipe via Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book
This made enough for four people. The waffles freeze well if you are cooking for less.
125ml warm water – hand warm, it shouldn’t feel hot or cold, which will be perfect for waking the yeast
7g / 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
470ml full fat milk, warmed gently (again, not too hot)
115 g butter, melted and cooled until lukewarm (I melted it with the milk)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp light brown sugar
250 g plain flour
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
Oil or butter for your waffle iron
maple syrup / sifted icing sugar & fruit to serve – or chocolate sauce if it is the weekend :)
The night before: Pour hand warm water in the bottom of a large bowl (allow for the batter to rise, so use a mixing bowl or similar). Sprinkle yeast on top and let it sit for 15 minutes, and let it wake gently from its slumber. Stir in the milk, melted butter, salt, sugar and flour whisking as you do to ensure there are no lumps. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave on the counter overnight.
The next morning: whisk in the eggs and baking powder (sieve this in to avoid lumps and therefore huge air pockets) until smooth.
Heat your waffle iron and coat lightly with a little butter or oil. Ladle in your waffle batter. My waffle iron is shallow and I added just enough to fill the bottom, it is very wet so this is the most that can be added. It turned out to be the perfect amount. You may need to play around with yours to get it right, although, as Deb says, it will not rise enough to fill a Belgian Waffler.
Eat warm. Save in the oven (warm at about 100 deg C) while you cook the remaining waffles.