When I was growing up pancakes were part of a special breakfast, but not rare, at least as far as I remember. Waffles, on the other hand, were very special, perhaps because my Mom made the recipe that included stiffly beaten egg whites for giving the waffles both crispness and height. When you make the batter that way, it takes extra time to separate the eggs and an extra bowl to beat up the whites, so it is not the easiest thing to do. Pancakes depend on a chemical reaction, usually baking powder, for their loft, so they are quick and easy.
Now that it is finally strawberry time with local berries available on Hwy. 12, in my mind it is also waffle season. My lovely neighbor brought us a basket of berries and a jar of freshly made strawberry jam. Those are all the toppings necessary for the right waffle. So what's the right waffle? A waffle that is made with yeast and that you start the night before gets my vote. It's a Mollie Katzen recipe and it is called, with good reason, The Amazing Overnight Waffle. Because the yeast causes the batter to rise once it hits the hot waffle iron, no extra work with beaten egg whites is necessary. You do have to melt some butter before plugging in the waffle iron in the morning, and, once the butter cools, add an egg, then stir that mixture into the batter, but that is the work of just a few moments.
The waffles are really crisp and lovely on the outside and tender on the inside. They are just fine with maple syrup and butter, have been made by me with blueberries scattered over the batter once it goes into the hot waffle iron (as in photo above), would be super with crumbled bacon used the same way, but are out of this world wonderful topped with strawberries...and a few dots of fresh strawberry jam.
These waffles are amenable to having part of the flour be whole wheat if you want a more earthy flavor. A sprinkle of flax seeds would add some heart healthy nutrition, too. I've even made these in a gingerbread version! Just remember to start the batter the night before and leave it, covered, on the counter so the yeast has time to work it's magic. Once you see how easy they are and taste your first bite, you'll agree that they are amazing.
Amazing Overnight Waffles
from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe' Cookbook
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg (I used ¼ cup egg substitute)
Butter for the waffle iron
Sliced strawberries – optional, but nice
Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl Add the milk and whisk until blended. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature (or put in the fridge if room temp. is over 70 degrees F.)
The next morning, preheat the waffle iron. Melt the 6 tablespoons butter and let cool a bit. Beat the egg is a small bowl (unnecessary if using egg substitute) then beat it into the batter along with the melted butter. The batter may be a bit thin.
Lightly spray the hot waffle iron with non stick spray, top and bottom plates, and then butter a piece of bread and use that to rub some butter on top and bottom plates.
Add just enough batter to cover the cooking surface…this varies by waffle iron…about 2/3 cup. Lower the top and cook until golden brown…it’s OK to check now and then, but while there is still a lot of steam coming out the sides of the iron, you may want to wait before lifting the lid. It takes about 2-3 minutes. You want it golden brown, but not too dark a brown.
Serve hot, right away, with strawberries and jam, or maple syrup, or toppings of your choice.
Note; If you have too many waffles for the number of people you are feeding, bake the leftover batter a little less than the ones you are eating, let cool on a baking rack, then freeze and store in the freezer tightly wrapped. Re-heat in the toaster.