The older I get, the more I realize two things: time is precious, and homemade is superior to store bought. Reconciling the two can be a challenge.
I was thinking about my baking recently and realized my passion has moved from dough to batter. Baking with batter has several attractions for me. First, start-to-eat is often as short as 15 minutes. Second is portion control. As our kids are grown and on their own, all of my batter recipes have a 2-portion version and a 4-portion for families. The third attraction is that it requires only low-cost tools and machines. Basics include bowls, a scale, measuring spoons, whisk, measuring cup, spatulas, waffle maker and a griddle.
Today I was testing a new variation on the Lemon Milk Waffles recipe, using egg white substitute (Meringue Powder) in place of an egg. I figured the lack of egg yolk would result in a lighter waffle, as the yolk turns brown during baking. Here are two waffles, one showing the top, the other the bottom. The lack of egg yolk created more contrast than I usually see.
There are two types of waffle makers: a flip and a traditional. These waffles were created with the traditional maker. The waffle top is not brown on the edges, as the batter did not touch the top plate. On a flip maker as you turn the plates over after closing, both top and bottom plates get batter. The result is a prettier waffle.
What surprised me was how pretty the bottom side was on a non-flip waffle.
Moral of the story: flip your waffles before serving..
I love my soft fluffy waffles, but I wanted to create savoury crisp waffles – something that you could pile toppings on, lift and eat without the toppings falling off. Reading recipes for other bread/cake products gave me ideas. Biscotti is an Italian biscuit that is baked, cut into slices, then baked again. The Italian word ‘biscotti’ translates to ‘twice-baked.’
When my waffles come off of the iron, they are slightly crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. I thought, suppose you put them in an oven and bake until they are dry throughout? The oven temperature needs to be hot enough to dry, but not so hot as to bake them. I found 325°F/160°C/Gas 3 for about 20 minutes dries the waffles out without baking them more. The result is a light, crispy wafer.
One of the most challenging recipes for me was developing a gluten free waffle. My experiences with using gluten-free flours has not been very rewarding. I decided to look for an oat flour recipe. To start I took my Lemon Milk Waffle recipe and substituted oat flour for the wheat flour. The results were very tasty but fell apart. See there is no gluten in oat flour so there is no “glue” to hold it together.
Then I learned about Xanthan Gum. Xanthan gum is a thickening agent made from fermented sugars and commonly used in gluten-free recipes. Most gluten-free flours come with xanthan gum already mixed in. Xanthan gum has to be used sparingly or you end up with a batter like stiff jello. (I know from personal experience of my first batch. 🙂 )
Lemon Milk Waffles are by far my favourite waffle. They originated as a way to make buttermilk waffles without buttermilk. A common substitute for buttermilk is milk mixed with an acid such as lemon or lime juice or vinegar. Lime juice instead of lemon works well but leaves no taste. Lemon leaves a hint in the waffles that compliments a sweet waffle. I was also intrigued by a King Arthur Flour tip on taming whole wheat.
If you or your family are very sensitive to whole wheat’s sometimes assertive flavour, try substituting 2 tablespoons orange juice for 2 tablespoons of the milk in this recipe. The OJ tames whole wheat’s potentially tannic taste, without adding any citrus flavour of its own.
I live on a working maple syrup farm so waffles are a staple with us. I get asked “why waffles?” Well, they are a type of bread. Like bread they fall into two camps based on the type of leaven, i.e. what makes them rise: yeast or soda. Waffles are similar to soda breads in that they use soft flour and baking soda/powder. Belgian waffles are historically made with soft flour and yeast. Hard flour, common in bread, is never used. You want a more cake like consistency. For me, all of the bread chemistry applies to waffles so I feel right at home.
I love simple recipes, building blocks for a foundation of baking. These are the basics that have the core ingredients and steps. Learn the foundations, then build upon them. This recipe is the most basic scratch waffle. All you need are medium and large bowls, measuring spoons, measuring cups, a whisk and a waffle maker. From the start to your first baked waffle is under 20 minutes and a whole recipe is done in under an hour.