Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Waffling

So I’m delivering on my promise to share the secret to my new waffle success. First, a little background: I’ve never before made a good waffle. For some reason pancakes come easy, but waffles come hard. And this is a little strange because waffles are actually in my blood—my mother is Belgian, her mother was Belgian, and she made little waffles (or “gaufres” as we called them) at least once a week for breakfast and snacking. She was famous for her gaufres. And when I speak of waffles I mean real Belgian waffles, not to be confused with the monstrous stacks topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, etc. that we get here.

A Belgian waffle is bought from a little stand on the street, the batter contains little nuggets of sugar that melt and caramelize when the waffle is cooked in the iron, and the finished waffle is served hot, wrapped in paper so you can eat it by hand as you walk. There are no toppings except the crackly sugar crust that you bite through to get to the soft and steamy center. It is the best thing in the world. It make an Eggo taste like a foam finger.

But I have not mastered my grandmother’s gaufres, or the street kind yet, so I have focused on making just plain traditional waffles, with still little to no luck.

And yet, on the day before Easter, it was decided we would have an Easter brunch after church and there would be waffles and I was going to make them. What to do? I went to the supermarket with my father-in-law, my ingredient list in hand, considering my options, when I spied this in the baking section next to the flour:

I’m not a “mix” kind of girl, but this one seemed to be made just for me: Bob’s Red Mill brand with organic flour, buttermilk, whole grain, no added sugar. I decided to give it a whirl.

On the morning of the waffles I followed the directions on the mix package,  but I also decided to make a few adjustments so at least my finished product would feel more homemade:

#1 I separated the eggs, added the yolks, and then beat the whites separately, folding them into the finished batter right at the end before cooking.

And for #2 I added this…Vanilla sugar! When I was a kid, my relatives would bring boxes of this from Belgium because you couldn’t find it here, but now I’m seeing it pop up in supermarket baking aisles. Sprinkled into batter or even on top of a pancake or waffle, it adds a certain je ne sai quoi (and yes, this one was artificially flavored, normally a no go, but nothing else is like it for this kind of thing, and as they say on Bronx Beat “who cares!”).

SI sprinkled about half a packet into the batter with the the egg whites, revved up the iron, tossed some berries and yogurt in lemon zest and maple syrup and that’s it–success seemed to be in my grasp!

That is until I made my first batch. I lightly brushed the waffle iron with some oil, poured in the batter, closed the lid, waited the recommended 3-4 minutes for a perfectly golden waffle and then lifted the lid. It was a catastrophe. The waffle was still batter, and it was sticking to everything, creating a mottled, spongy type substance. After some nervous reviewing of the instructions, and my mother-in-law mentioning something along the lines of “didn’t you tweak the recipe…?”. I closed the iron again, hoped, and waited.

It turns out that the sucker just wasn’t hot enough yet! Because the next time I opened the iron, I had this:

Once the iron was hot, they came out fantastic. Not sure if this has been my problem all along or not, but for waffles I’m now sold on the Bob’s mix-egg white-vanilla sugar combo.

 

 

3 Responses to Waffling

  1. Anne says:

    1 vanilla pod, slit lengthwise
    1 old screw-top jar full of white sugar
    Scratch out pod with a pointed knife over sugar-filled jar.
    Stick empty pod into the sugar.
    Screw top on tight and shake a couple of times.
    Store in a dark place at room temperature for a week before using.

    a
    PS: Kids like making (and eating) this, also as gifts.

  2. Anne says:

    Have fun! Never tried it with brown cane sugar, the taste might be a bit overpowering for the vanilla to come through. White definitely works, powdered sugar tends to cake because of the oils in the vanilla. Do let me know, though …
    Other flavoured sugars (use sparingly):
    - lavender (2/3 lavender flowers in a small jar of sugar)
    - rosemary (1 sprig, medium-size jar)
    cheers
    a

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