The World's Second Best Waffle
I don’t know what mornings look like for your family, but in our house there is usually a child poking me in the face and whisper-yelling in my ear sometime between 5:45 and 6:15 am. This is usually preceded by several hours spent drifting in and out of sleep with one of my sweaty, restless angels wedged between Michael and I, engaged in a persistent and painful campaign to take over as much of our King sized bed as possible.
So I couldn’t believe it when Michael gently woke me a couple of Saturdays ago and told me that it was 9 am. He knew I had had a rough night and thought I could use the rest. Bless his heart. Truly, I am married to a saint. Except that then he casually mentioned that he had promised the children waffles, and he was going to go outside and work on building our deck, so would I please make the waffles with them?
I felt all my goodwill drain away. Don’t get me wrong—I love making a big weekend breakfast with the kids, despite the fact that there are always multiple skirmishes over who gets to do what jobs, someone always falls of a stool and gets injured, and I am basically guaranteed to have at least one egg explode on the kitchen floor. If it had been pancakes or French toast that had been offered, there would have been no problem. But waffles, man. That’s a different story.
I love waffles with all my heart, but I am a waffle snob. If I am going to go to the trouble and mess of making waffles, they need to be extraordinary—deeply golden and crisp on the outside with fluffy, steaming interiors. They need to have a flavour all their own, not just be a vehicle for butter and syrup. In all my travels, I have only met with one waffle that truly meets this criteria, and it is Marion Cunningham’s Raised Waffle, which I have previously written about here. They are perfect, except for one thing—you must make the batter the night before. This isn’t even really a fault, because it means you can make the batter up the night before and be ready to go as soon as you wake up. It is my opinion that if you have not planned ahead and mixed up this batter before bed, then you should forget about waffles all together. Have french toast instead. Non-yeasted waffles are floppy and sad and not worth my time. On this particular morning, I had no bowl of batter resting on my counter. No yeasted batter = no waffles. Period. And yet.
And yet, the children had been promised. There was no turning back. So, I hauled curmudgeony ass out of bed, found my laptop, and began searching for a waffle recipe that would no doubt prove to be a total disappointment.
When I am searching for a recipe for something, I have a handful of internet food voices that I trust. They are my go-to’s. One is author-blogger-restaurateur Molly Wizenberg. Within minutes of beginning my search, I stumbled on 2010 post on Molly’s blog Orangette in which she undertakes her own skeptical quest to find a decent waffle recipe. She comes up with two. One is, obviously, Marion Cunningham’s yeasted waffle. Duh. The other is a recipe I have never heard of, but that apparently enjoys a cult following. It is known as the Waffle of Insane Greatness (or, the WIG). It seemed like fate. And it was. I made those waffles, and they were so good that I have made them twice since. The key to their success is cornstarch; it allows them to stay light and crisp without a boatload of melted butter or the need to whip the egg whites. Genius! Molly’s recipe also assured me that there was no need to grease the waffle iron. I was super skeptical but she was right!
Today is the last day of school before summer holidays. The calm before the storm. I have lots of big ambitions about what the summer will look like—daily workouts for me, a portion of every day spent reading and writing with the girls, a bucket list of fun family activities. In truth, I have no idea what we will do this summer. I only know that tomorrow morning, there will be waffles.
Waffles of Insane Greatness
Adapted from Molly Wizenberg, who adapted from Aretha Frankenstein.
Yield: This will very depending on the type and size of your waffle iron. We can get five waffles out of this, which is not enough for our gang of waffle-monsters, which includes two adults and two small kiddos. We double this.
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
1 tbs. sugar
½ cup whole milk
½ cup buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil, such as canola*
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
*I rarely have vegetable oil on hand, so I swap it for melted coconut oil, which we always have. If you would like to sub in coconut oil, or even melted butter, it is helpful to warm your eggs for a few minutes in a bowl of hot tap water before cracking them, and to microwave your dairy ingredients for 30 seconds or so before adding them. You don’t want them hot, just room temperature. This will prevent the coconut oil or butter from re-solidifying and forming little lumps when it hits the cold liquids. If this does happen, don’t sweat it—Your waffles will still be fine.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Whisk to combine.
Add the milk, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Whisk well until few lumps remain. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat your waffle iron. I put mine onto of a cookie sheet to protect my counter from the heat and to make clean up easier. I like to set my dial to medium high—I would rather an over done waffle then a floppy one.
Add a scoop of batter to your waffle iron and cook until deep golden and crisp. The amount of batter will depend on your iron—you will probably have to play around a bit to find the right amount.
Waffles are ALWAYS best when eaten ASAP, but if you must wait to serve everyone together, hold the waffles in a warm oven, spread out in a single layer on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. You can also put them directly on the racks of your oven.
Serve with the toppings of your choice (this week I am all about the local strawberries, macerated in a spoonful of sugar and a drop or two of good balsamic vinegar. But really, whatever floats your boat).
Any uneaten waffles can be stored in a large plastic freezer bag (I like to separate the layers with parchment) in the freezer. Reheat from frozen in the toaster.