Waffles for Breakfast and Beyond

 , The New York Times  |  Updated: April 12, 2014 16:27 IST

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Waffles for Breakfast and Beyond
A well-made waffle is a glorious thing. Crisp and golden on the outside, steaming and tender within, its pockets hold a mix of melting butter and maple syrup that's decadently released when you bite down. Yet, for all their charms, I never used to make waffles very often, maybe once a year on a special occasion.

Part of the reason was my waffle iron. Mine was a castoff from my parents that they had received as a wedding gift, then discarded when they cleaned out their kitchen. Made of chrome and cast iron, it was hefty and solid but a pain to exhume from the cabinet and cumbersome to clean. When it died, I replaced it with a spiffy stainless-steel model.

The new one was lighter and convenient to pull out of the cabinet. It cooked the waffles more evenly and quickly. And because it was nonstick, I could just wipe it clean.  As sad as I was to see my parents' retro chrome number go, I made waffles a lot more often without it. And because I was making waffles every few months instead of once a year, I could play around with several recipes.

My go-to recipe is a buttery, yeasted number with a delightful sour tang that goes well with any sweet topping (syrup, jam, fruit compote). You can make the batter the night before and let it rise in the refrigerator for breakfast, or get up early and let it rise at room temperature in time for brunch.

When I don't plan ahead, I make waffles that rely on beaten egg whites rather than yeast for their fluffiness. In this version, I use cornmeal for added crunch. These are perfectly fine served with maple syrup or honey dripped on top. But for something more opulent, maple syrup simmered with caramelized bananas, pecans and bourbon - like bananas Foster on a waffle - puts them over the top. I wouldn't have thought to make savory waffles if I hadn't tasted the Solomon Gundy waffle from M. Wells Steakhouse in Long Island City, Queens. At the restaurant, they make potato blini batter, cook it in a waffle iron, and slather it with smelt fillets, crème fraîche and trout roe. My version uses a simpler potato batter and substitutes smoked trout fillets for the smelt. It makes a savory brunch or unexpected supper. Or cut the waffles and serve them as an appetizer at a fancy dinner party. Once you get in the habit of making waffles, you'll look for every opportunity.

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Cornmeal Waffles With Banana Bourbon Syrup
Time: 35 minutes

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for waffle iron

1 large ripe banana, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds

2 tablespoons bourbon

1/2 cup maple syrup

50 grams toasted chopped pecans (1/2 cup), optional

60 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)

100 grams finely ground cornmeal (3/4 cup)

15 grams sugar (1 tablespoon)

8 grams baking powder (1 teaspoon)

5 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)

3 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon)

1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 cup whole milk

4 large eggs, separated

1. Melt 5 tablespoons butter either on the stove or in the microwave. Set aside.

2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter until foam subsides. Add bananas in a single layer. Cook, without moving, until undersides are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes; flip and brown other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Add bourbon to pan and let simmer until mostly evaporated, about 1 minute. Pour in syrup and pecans; simmer until just heated through. Pour syrup on bananas and cover to keep warm (or reheat just before serving).

4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together sour cream or yogurt, milk, melted butter and egg yolks. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

5. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Immediately fold into batter.

6. Heat waffle iron. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, lightly coat iron with melted butter. Cook waffles (using about 1/2 cup batter per waffle) until golden and crisp. Butter the iron in between batches as needed. Serve waffles immediately as they are ready, or keep warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve. Serve with banana syrup on top.

Note: Measurements for dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.

Yield: About 10 waffles

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Potato Waffles With Smoked Trout
Time: 1 hour

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (14 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Coarse salt

1 cup whole milk

3 grams active dry yeast (1 teaspoon)

5 grams granulated sugar (1 teaspoon)

250 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)

5 grams baking soda (1 teaspoon)

7 grams baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons)

2 large eggs, separated

1 cup sour cream

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for waffle iron

Crème fraîche, for serving (or use more sour cream)

6 ounces smoked trout, for serving

2 ounces trout or salmon roe, for serving

Lemon wedges, for serving

1. Boil potatoes in a medium saucepan of salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, mash with a fork or potato masher and let cool.

2. Heat milk in a small saucepan or the microwave until warm to the touch but not hot. Sprinkle in yeast and sugar and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk egg yolks, sour cream and butter. Whisk milk mixture into egg mixture, then add dry ingredients. Stir in mashed potatoes. Let batter sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

4. In bowl of a standing mixer, beat egg whites on high speed until stiff. Fold into batter.

5. Heat waffle iron. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, lightly coat iron with melted butter. Cook waffles (using about 1/2 cup batter per waffle) until golden and crisp. Butter the iron in between batches as needed. Serve waffles immediately as they are ready, or keep them warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.

6. Serve warm topped with crème fraîche, smoked trout pieces and salmon roe, with lemon wedges on the side.

Note: Measurements for dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.

Yield: 8 waffles


Simple Yeasted Waffles

Time: 1 hour, plus 2 to 3 hours standing

2 1/4 cups milk

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for the waffle iron

15 grams sugar (1 tablespoon)

5 grams salt (1 teaspoon)

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

240 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)

90 grams whole wheat flour (3/4 cup), or use all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. In a small pot over medium heat, combine milk and butter until melted and hot but not simmering. Stir in sugar and salt; remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.
2. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water and the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

3. Add warm milk mixture to yeast; stir. Whisk in flours. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in volume, 2 to 3 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Heat waffle iron. Whisk eggs and baking soda into waffle batter. Using a pastry brush or paper towel, lightly coat iron with melted butter. Cook waffles (using about 1/2 cup batter per waffle) until golden and crisp. Butter the iron in between batches as needed. Serve waffles immediately as they are ready, or keep them warm in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.
Note: Measurements for dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.

Yield: 8 to 10 waffles

© 2014 New York Times News Service

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