Saturday, August 7, 2010


"To waffle" is a verb. It refers to indecision. I wouldn't know anything about that. Yes, I would. Well, no... o.k. maybe a little. Let's just say... It's something I'm working on. 

"To waffle" could also refer to the act of making waffles. We wouldn't call the person making the waffles, a "waffle maker" (that's what we make the waffles with). So if you waffled, you would be a waffler, right? And just so we're straight on this... being a waffler is not the same as being THE Waffler; as in the wannabe super-hero in the movie Mystery Men. If I were a super-hero, a waffle maker would not be my first choice in weaponry. Of course, wielded unconventionally, a waffle maker (especially an old all-metal one) could put some serious hurt on a bad guy. But super-hero or not, if you needed something solid and heavy with which to defend yourself or your home, chances are your waffle maker is in the back of that awkward corner cupboard in the kitchen, or above the fridge behind three florist vases, seven logo glasses, and a Salad Shooter. Better to be the kind of domestic super-hero who can whip up a steamin' batch of fragrant waffles on any given Saturday morning. Waffles make people happy, and making people happy is the most super of all super-powers.

Someone who has truly mastered the waffle maker, would of course be known as a Master Waffler. Achieving this skill-level is no small feat. I should know. I am a novice-waffler. Recently bequeathed/burdened with a gift of not one, but two pre-owned waffle makers, I know that the road ahead is crispy and filled with little square divots designed to trip me up as I discover the secrets of enwafflement*.

I sometimes call the waffle maker, a waffle iron. A throwback to the days when they were actually made of iron and you would have to hold them over an open hearth to cook. If I had to do that, my family would never know the taste of waffles. But we have electric waffle makers now. The newest ones tell you exactly when their contents are perfectly cooked and golden, and they have non-stick surfaces so clean up is a breeze. The waffle makers I now have represent two different eras. The older one is a massive metal beast that cranks out 4 big waffles at once. If I WAS The Waffler, this is the one I would use to fight crime with. The newer waffle maker is a cute little affair that makes 4 petite little heart-shaped waffles at a time. While cute and non-stick, it will probably take three times as long to cook through a bowl of batter.

My first foray into waffling called for something simple and basic. I turned to the Betty Crocker Good & Easy Cookbook circa 1962. Their one and only waffle recipe called for (drum roll please)... Bisquick. Moving right along! I brought out the mother ship, the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook of 1950. The red and white ring binder (complete with tabs no less) is so organized it baffles the mind. Betty didn't let me down. While only a single page was devoted to waffles, there were two "key" recipes and six variations, plus a brief history and a how-to. And how can you not like a cookbook that tells you "Nut waffles are special for supper" and "Fresh bacon fat is good in waffles"? Oh Betty, you know what I like!

Basic Waffles รก la Betty
  1. Combine 2 cups whole milk and 2 Tblsp lemon juice; let sit for 10 minutes.**
  2. Start pre-heating the waffle maker.
  3. Add the fake buttermilk to the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl:
    2 large eggs
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 cups sifted flour (that means sift first, then measure)
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    6 Tblsp butter, melted and cooled
  4. Mix it all together really well and start waffling. 
  5. Stash waffles on racks in a warm (lowest temp) oven so they don't get all cold and soggy before you serve them. 
  6. Extra waffles can be wrapped and frozen for another day and reheated in the toaster (just like store-bought frozen waffles... but better).
My Notes: I started with the big dog–a Sunbeam Waffle Baker & Griller. This is one serious hunk of metal. I seasoned it and then proceeded to underestimate both how much batter to pour and how long it would take to cook. Double oops. Not only did the batter not make it all the way to the corners, but the waffle split when I lifted the lid too early and I had to pick bits of it out from both the top and bottom. Next, I poured more batter and left it to cook undisturbed. Betty Crocker says to cook it "until it stops steaming", but after 9 minutes it still hadn't stopped and I had to wonder if what I thought was steam had become smoke instead.  It took both of us to pry the lid up! It wasn't burnt though and I was able to get most all of it out without breaking. It was dark golden and way too crispy. The third time was the charm. I poured the rest of the batter in and cooked it for exactly 7 minutes. The whole waffle-quad pulled up in one piece! It was golden and near perfect! Woohoo!

More waffle recipes I can't wait to try...
  • Waffles with Caramelized Bananas on pg 23 of Brunch: The Perfect Weekend Treat (2004) 
  • Sourdough Waffles with Nuts on pg 72 of Breakfasts & Brunches [Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library] (1997)
  • Banana Ginger Waffles on pg 128 of Gourmet's Quick Kitchen (1996) call for club soda!
  • How To Cook Everything (1998) has Overnight Waffles on page [745] and two others to try.
  • Cinnamon Sugar Buttermilk Waffles from page 32 of The Best Of MSL: Favorite Comfort Foods (1999).
*Enwafflement: The highest attainable level of breakfastness.
**We are making fake buttermilk here! If you don't have lemon juice, you can substitute white vinegar. If you actually have buttermilk, stop reading this and by George, use it!
In case anybody was wondering: Why did I choose a photo of the overly crispy damaged first disaster of a waffle? My camera battery chose that moment to tell me it desperately needed some R&R (Remove & Recharge). The good- looking waffles are but a sweet memory.
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  1. Shoot, Stephanie. For three days straight, I've woken up wanting waffles, and not understanding where it was coming from. I was just waiting for this.

    Sadly, I do not have a waffle maker, iron, or other various waffling apparatuses. But I got to read this, and it was almost as good.

    You're funny.

  2. Leslie: Too weird! It must be some sort of psychic-friend thing. Get thee to a garage sale or thrift shop and pick up a waffle maker cheap! The people who get rid of them simply don't know what they've got! Check out the multi-grain waffles tomorrow. It just gets better and better!


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