Well, that was a mouthful wasn’t it? But a very tasty one, so I am ok with that. Welcome to the good ship waffle, folks. I am obsessed. I cannot get enough of them and instead of the usual 3 recipe tests, I find myself doing 5 or 6.
It is my 800th post today. That is 800 times over the last 6.5 years where I have sat down and written a missive, where I have planned a meal around it, photographed it, tried to find the best light in the room, wandered outside with my lunch and photographed it in the winter cold in the garden, rushed back in to eat it still warm, travelled to another country to write about it, hunted down something random in London because I needed it or because I needed you to try it. 800 moments of distraction, and joy. I am so happy that I decided to start this blog of mine, and that you like to read it makes me happier still. Every time.
Getting a recipe right is very important for me. When someone reads something here, and decides to make it at home, I want the experience to be joyful and perfect, and the resulting bite to be glorious. Whether that is a waffle or a big hunk of pork, a stew or a cake. I would hate to think that someone would go out and buy ingredients and then be upset with the results. So, I test everything, and try to explain everything as directly and simply as I can. These waffles went through six versions, not just because I wanted to eat them (and they were good at version 1), but I thought that I could improve on them each time. I love this recipe, the waffles are grounded and nutty, yet light. The citrus fluffy ricotta and the sweet rich maple syrup are a perfect play of sweet, sour and luxurious on top.
I like to play around with different ingredients and flavours. Life and eating would be banal if we only used the same ingredients time and again, so when I spy something new, I grab it to take home and play. Living in London, that of course means that I have an explosive pantry (cough – bookshelves full of ingredients, oh to have a pantry), and while steering the Good Ship Waffle, I started to play around with different flours, one of which, spelt, was sitting on a shelf staring at me. The cheeky thing.
Spelt flour is made from an ancient grain, spelt, and has a lovely nutty flavour. It is easier to digest for people with wheat intolerances (but it does have some gluten, so not for those with coeliac disease). I bulked out the waffle with a little ground almonds, and in keeping with the nuttiness used almond milk (again, I just had it). You can use normal milk too, of course but the almond milk gives it something a bit different. The batter is held together with an egg and then enrichened with butter (but if you are dairy free, use oil here).
Oh, I would love to make a waffle, but I don’t have the space for a waffle maker! I hear you cry. You do, there are small ones, and as part of the whole Good Ship Waffle, maybe obsessiveness, lets call it an eye for detail, I bought 3 stovetop waffle makers, and gave them all a thorough try. They are all under £25 and compact. Cast iron is fiddly but gets much hotter, so I prefer it, but I also tried a non stick one for ease of use.
Rome Old Fashioned Stove Top Waffle Maker (bottom)
I was seduced by the old school glamour of this cast iron waffle maker. At £15, it is great value. It requires seasoning – so a good scrub before brushing with oil and heating for a solid 15 minutes over a medium heat. Every time you use it, you will need to brush it with oil again to ensure that it stays non stick. So, fiddly, but the waffle shape is nice, the waffles petite, and the iron itself is gorgeous. This is my favourite for breakfast waffles.
Rome Cast Iron Waffle Maker (top left)
Another Rome waffle iron. I went a bit crazy on the online shop and bought a few things (cough – might have bought a marshmallow tree – cough). I bought this one because it has a more traditional rectangular waffle shape, plus it only makes two waffles, so that makes it perfect when cooking for one. This needs to be seasoned, and it is also intended for an outdoor fire (hence the long handles). I think this is great all rounder, although it needs attention on the stove top, and it probably isn’t ideal if there are kids around the kitchen who can grab the handles and injure themselves. I bought this one on Amazon and it was £24 (I think I got the last one but you can get them online here sometimes and they list stockists too). On a superficial level, the cast iron ones just look better and this one now hangs on my tiled kitchen wall, which makes me feel like a waffle slinger in some culinary wild west. I intend to try this one in a big outdoor fire soon.
I wanted to try a non stick one, for comparison. This (non-iron) iron is good to go straight out of the box, and doesn’t require seasoning but it has a few faults – the hinge comes apart quite easily, sometimes while cooking, and can be difficult to get back together at speed. The waffle moulds themselves are quite big, and I prefer the smaller waffles produced in the cast iron ones for breakfast waffles. However, I find this perfect for my potato waffles (recipe soon), as this sturdier waffle works well with the larger mould. I bought it on Amazon. If you can’t be bothered seasoning and maintaining cast iron get this waffle iron, currently £18.15 on Amazon.
Now you have your waffle iron, lets get waffling. Yeehaw!
Note on the recipe: I say ricotta but it is ricotta-ish – homemade and with cream, not just milk. It is gorgeous and I use it a lot. I have included the recipe here, but if you don’t have time, you can buy ricotta and some lemon juice and some shreds of lemon zest (of unwaxed lemons, you don’t want that wax in your breakfast). But please do make it sometime, as it is wonderful. This pancake recipe will serve 1, but double, triple it as you need to.
Recipe: Spelt & Almond Waffles with Lemon Ricotta & Maple Syrup
the waffles take 15 minutes, the lemon ricotta takes a couple of hours but you mainly ignore it and let if get on with it
Spelt & Almond Waffles
50g spelt flour
25g ground almonds (almond flour in the US)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch sea salt
100ml almond milk (or normal milk if you don’t have any)
25g melted butter (or 25ml light oil if you can’t eat butter, groundnut or similar is good)
1 tbsp maple syrup
some extra melted butter to brush your waffle iron
1l whole full fat milk
250ml cream (single in the UK, heavy cream in the US)
3 unwaxed lemons, fine zest (remove with a zester or grater), lemon juice and lemon halves reserved
some muslin for straining (available in cookware shops, haberdasheries or fabric shops)
thermometer, for accuracy and pain free cooking
maple syrup to serve
Make your lemon ricotta first. I make it the day before and keep it in the fridge. Heat the milk and cream to 89 deg C (or roughly 190 deg F), stirring as you do, as milk likes to hug the pan and scorch as you heat it. Take off the heat, add the lemon juice and stir. The milk and curds will separate gently. Add the lemon zest and halves and let it sit for an hour at room temperature. Discard the lemon halves, then filter through a sieve you have lined with muslin for a further hour, stirring it occasionally to ensure the water passes through (the curds can be quite fine). And there you have your lemon ricotta. Keep it in the fridge until you need it.
Sift the spelt flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the salt and ground almonds. Beat the egg lightly and add the egg, maple syrup, almond milk and butter (ensure the butter isn’t too hot or it will cook the egg). Create a well in the centre and add the wet ingredients to try, and mix thoroughly.
Heat your waffle iron on the stove on both sides for a minute or so, over a medium heat. Brush the waffle iron with a little melted butter, and add as much batter as your waffle iron requires (usually just over half a ladleful per waffle) and cook gently, still over a medium heat, for a few minutes on each side until brown.
Serve hot with the lemon ricotta on top, and a generous drizzle of maple syrup. Enjoy!