Saturday, January 18, 2014

Back to Yeast Waffles

Overnight Yeast Waffles
I can be very persistent. Just ask my husband!

When I made the waffles about a week ago, trying for a recipe that would be similar to Marion Cunningham's Yeast Waffles, well, it just took too long for the results. The result was wonderful after 3 days in the fridge. Great, if you are having guests and need something spectacular for breakfast and need things done ahead; not so much if you want relatively instant results. 

I consider overnight as "instant" because it is quick to mix up the night before and let it set out overnight. It is ready for use immediately, in the morning. Just add eggs and baking soda and presto - Waffle Batter! The recipe of last week used no time at room temperature to ferment. The fermentation was a long and very slow process in the fridge. I had come to expect the fermented yeastiness of M.C.'s Yeast Waffles. My batter of last week never had that. While it did finally come out tasting of yeast after 3 days in the fridge, it was not strong, nor fermented in flavor. So, I went back to the drawing board. I did some research into such things as sourdough starters, along with other recipes for yeast waffles. 

Batter bubbling away at 10 PM
10 PM: Batter risen considerably
I think these days everyone is so fearful of germs and food poisoning, they forget that sourdough comes from fermenting a yeast batter, generally at least starting out on the counter (as in NOT refrigerated). I read online and about everyone that had posted MC's Yeast Waffle recipe, now called for mixing the batter and then putting it in the fridge overnight. This will never give that great sour, fermented quality that is so unique to these waffles. It will give nice waffles, just not what I was looking for. Granted, it is possible to have a starter go bad; usually not overnight. It becomes very obvious in that it will develop an off color, sometimes pinkish, and smell just wrong. There is no lovely fermented tang; it just plain stinks. 

Long, long ago, I had a sourdough starter going for some time. Once it was there bubbling away, I looked for recipes to use the starter. I made waffles and pancakes, bread and cake. The thing about a sourdough starter is that the longer it lives (as in, using a portion, then refreshing the remainder with more flour and water, so the fermentation is continuous), the more sour the flavor. The stronger the sour flavor, the more it comes through in what you make. Breads become quite tangy, and so do waffles and pancakes. At that point, I was not so enamored of the sourdough starter. I didn't want quite that much sour tang in my waffles or pancakes. So, what to do?

Here entered M.C.'s Yeast Waffle recipe - a real "a-HA!" moment. 

Note light through bubbles when held up to light
So, back to the reason for this post. I created another batter last evening. It is similar to M.C.'s Yeast Waffles. There are only so many things to change. You need certain proportions of flour, yeast, sugar, salt. Other additions are butter or oil, milk, eggs and baking soda. I lessened the amount of butter a bit, and added an egg. I added a pinch of powdered vanilla pod (I save the pod from a vanilla bean when I scrape the seeds, allow it to thoroughly dry, then pulse to a fine powder in a coffee grinder used just for this). A splash of good vanilla extract would be great also. I used nonfat dried milk powder. The batter really took off. I mixed it up at 8 PM. I checked it at 10 PM, before going to bed. It was merrily and actively bubbling away and had risen noticeably in the bowl. This morning, it was still bubbling, though more slowly, and had noticeably fallen in the bowl. This is normal, and expected.

Once I added the eggs and baking soda, I had my "Belgian" waffle maker going. I had never made this kind of waffle in the deeper welled waffle maker and was curious if they would rise to fill the spaces, as the dough is relatively runny. The deeper wells did fill, but I think it just works more nicely in a regular waffle iron. The dough baked into very light and crisp waffles with noticeable tiny bubbles baked into the waffle. They smelled heavenly of the yeasty tang and tasted even better. Success! 

Note height of batter in the bowl
Still bubbly, risen and fallen overnight
One more thing: I am baking bread and other wonderful yeasty things all the time, so I buy SAF Instant Yeast by the pound brick. Instant (or Rapid-Rise / Quick-Rise) Yeast requires no "proofing." If you have a packet of regular yeast, use 1/2 cup of the water called for, warmed separately, to proof the yeast. Save this mixture until the end of the mixing of the batter. I also do not keep milk in the house. I have instant dry milk powder or evaporated milk for those times I need milk for a recipe. If preferred, use 2 cups of milk when melting the butter. The other half cup of water can be added to the milk, or used to proof the yeast if needed.

Overnight Yeast Waffles

Thin, gloppy batter
2 1/2 cups water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup instant dry milk powder 
1 packet of instant rise yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Mix the water and butter in a microwave safe container and heat on short bursts to melt the butter without overheating the water. Make sure the water is just tepid before adding to the dry ingredients.

Separately, in a large, glass or plastic bowl, combine the flour, milk powder, yeast, sugar and salt. Add in the tepid water and butter mixture and stir well to combine. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to ferment overnight. (If it is very cold outside, you may place the bowl in the oven with the oven light on. Keep the bowl at the furthest point from the light as possible. Some oven lights make the oven too hot, and could hinder the process or kill the yeast.)

Next morning, set up a waffle iron. Add the eggs and baking soda to the fermented batter and whisk in to combine. Pour about 1/2 to 2/3 cup onto the waffle iron and bake according to directions; usually about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Makes about 10 to 12 (7-inch round) waffles.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.