Saturday, January 11, 2014

Yeast Waffle Experiences

Long ago I found a recipe for Marion Cunningham's Yeast Waffles in the local newspaper. I tried the recipe and it was fantabulous! The smell of the waffle baking with its yeasty aroma so like bread baking; the flavor with the yeast right out there and apparent, the tender crispness of the waffle - all these made for one heady breakfast experience. I have been making them almost exclusively ever since.

I have tried other kinds of waffle recipes. Though I am not particularly fond of chocolate at most times and really not for breakfast, I did try a recipe that uses cocoa and Porter beer with its chocolatey undertones. That recipe is wonderful, and I usually serve those chocolate waffles with strawberries cut up into sour cream with a little sugar. Wonderful. I also spent time exploring ways to add fiber into the diet and made lots of waffles with added oat bran or wheat bran or corn meal. Nothing beats the yeast waffles recipe for flavor.
My Refrigerator Yeast Waffles with Pecans and Blueberries

Waffle irons come is many sizes and shapes. These days many also have perfected the timing so one no longer has to make a guess when it might be done. I got a waffle iron from Williams Sonoma about 10 years ago. It has a slide bar to set, from 1 to 7, how done you want the waffle to be. It has a little red light to tell you it is heating or cooking, and a green light when the waffle is done, along with a little high-pitched whistling sound. It works great, and I have absolutely no complaints. It is a round waffle maker. If the batter goes all the way to the rim (which usually means it will overflow a little), it makes about an 8-inch diameter waffle. If the batter stays inside the rim, it makes about a 7-inch waffle. I have never had a Belgian waffle maker. I have never cared for the exceptionally deep wells it creates. I don't know why. It's just my thing. 

M.C.'s recipe calls for mixing the yeast, milk, butter, salt sugar and flour and mixing well, then lightly covering and leaving the bowl on the counter overnight. In the morning, or when ready to make the waffles, the batter will have risen noticeably. The smell is heavy with the slight fermenting of the yeast. At this point eggs and a little baking soda are added and whisked in and the batter is ready to bake. Obviously, I cannot just publish Marion Cunningham's Yeast Waffle recipe as mine (which I just read she got from Fanny Farmer's Cookbook), so I decided to try making a recipe for a yeast batter and see how it would go. 

Batter after 24 hours in fridge
I wanted to make a batter that was ready to use right away. I mixed basically the same ingredients, but in different proportions, adding in baking soda, because somehow it seems they must be important. I am not a chemist, and am not sure exactly what the soda does in a yeast mixture (as opposed to it working with soured milk or buttermilk in a quick bread, cake or pancake). I feel it must help with the bubbling and puffing, particularly if the batter is left out to ferment. Well, my batter had not been fermented, but I added it anyway. I made the waffles yesterday. I was unimpressed. There was absolutely no yeast smell from the batter nor any aroma while baking. The waffles were fine. While there was nothing inherently "wrong" with them, they were just - plain - waffles.  I also made a couple of pancakes with the batter, and those worked fine, too, but were similarly uninteresting.

Consistency of the batter
I decided to put the rest of the batter in the fridge. I covered it lightly with plastic wrap. The batter grew to completely fill the bowl by this morning. I stirred it down and tried again. This morning the batter noticeably smelled like yeast, though without that wonderfully pungent fermented quality. I had hopes. I made waffles. I sprinkled 1/4 cup chopped pecans onto the batter in the iron. The waffles tasted better, but still no real yeasty aroma while baking, nor anything to indicate they are yeast waffles while eating them. I am going to give them another day in the fridge and try again tomorrow. I like things that are ready right away and not something I have to wait for days to develop flavor. I think I am going to go back to making a new recipe that will ferment overnight and see what I can come up with. Meanwhile, this is my recipe, to date:

Refrigerator Yeast Waffles

1/4  cup warm water
1 package yeast
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or use all-purpose for the total amount)
2 cups all-purpose flour 
Refrigerator Yeast Waffle with pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 cup milk or half & half
3 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let it froth. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt and soda. Whisk together the milk and eggs; add in the melted butter. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the yeast and beat to combine. Store in a plastic or glass bowl in the refrigerator overnight and up to 4 days: make sure the batter has a LOT of room to grow, or you will find a mess next day. Cover lightly. If you top with a lid that seals tightly, it could explode as the batter expands. 

This will make approximately 10 (7-inch) round waffles or about 20 pancakes. As each waffle iron is different size and shape, you will have to experiment to see how much batter to use per waffle. Bake according to waffle iron instructions. I had mine set on the higher side of medium.

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.