Buttermilk Waffles

April 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Raising a little Californian, I feel the responsibility of making sure we understand the ins and outs of American culture. We make an effort to say chips and not crisps, garbage rather than rubbish, and so on, lest our little guy be teased for his antiquated vocabulary by a mean preschooler. And while I hope Henry will get to know the joys of a bacon bap in time, I want to make sure he gets the chance to enjoy all permutations of American breakfasting which is, after all, a pretty good tradition, extending through to the early afternoon whenever the excuse provides itself. In our (nearly 6!) years Stateside, we’ve taken on this tough job of embracing the delights of pancakes, French Toast, hashes and eggs all ways. We’ve even come close to understanding that marriage of sweet and savory that seems so particular to American breakfasts: fruit salad on the side of an omelette, bacon on the side of pancakes, maple syrup on the side and top and all around everything. I imagine that the citizenship test involves secretly recording your reaction when a waiter pours syrup on a sausage: delight; you’re in! horror; do not pass go. But it was only recently that we realized there was an entire genre of breakfast goodness on which we were missing out: waffles. It was our parental duty no less, to explore this new terrain.

Prior to a month or so ago, two things would have come to mind when I thought of waffles, neither of which were breakfast. One: Belgium, and the idea of waffles as a snack served from a cart by a man with a Poirot moustache, ideally dunked in a thick mug of hot chocolate on a brisk, dusky day (erm, transport me there right now please). Two: the fast food variety of potato waffles that we ate growing up as a staple dinner side (likely alongside Findus Crispy Pancakes), and the commercial jingle that sticks in my head to this day (“They’re Waffly Versatile”). You will understand why waffles hadn’t been high on my cooking list until recently…

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The waffles that have been coming out of our kitchen in the last month are in no way children of the 80s. These are waffles made with multigrain flour blends, speckled with flax, and lightened with buttermilk. They’re topped with yoghurt, nut butters, and the first strawberries of the season. They’re healthy enough that I can imagine them being the centerpiece of a family brunch, once our little guy graduates from applesauce and puree of pear. They’re downright addictive. For a dairy-free, lower gluten waffle that tastes amazing, you can’t go wrong with Sara’s multigrain waffles. Seriously – they were our gateway drug. This weekend I went with a buttermilk centric recipe to use up what was left of the carton I picked up for the lemon loaf. I made up a flour blend with whole wheat, rye and cornmeal, partly because it was what I had lying around to use up, and partly because I was craving the extra crunch from the cornmeal. You can play around with the flour ratios and combinations depending on what you have available: the main thing is to make sure the batter is wet enough (some whole grain flours are more absorbent and will require a bit more liquid) and not to overmix. The toppings are up to you: I can’t resist the Greek yoghurt, strawberry and cocoa nib combo right now. Bacon plus maple syrup: your call.

Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food

2 cups (500ml) buttermilk
3 eggs
8 tbsp/1 stick/115g butter
1 cup/100g whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup/50g rye flour
1/2 cup/70g cornmeal (I used medium grind)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. sugar (I used coconut sugar)

Whisk the eggs into the buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside. Melt the butter and leave to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Pour the buttermilk and egg mix into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (I like to use a whisk for this, to avoid overmixing). Pour in the melted butter and stir until well mixed. The batter should pour easily off a spoon – you may want to add more buttermilk if it’s particularly thick.

Preheat and grease your waffle iron. I like to set ours to somewhere between 3 and 4 for a good browning. Pour approximately 1/2 cup of mixture into the iron, close, and bake until the iron gives the green light and steam stops coming out of the sides. If you are cooking multiple waffles and want to serve them all at once, preheat your oven to 200F/100C and place the baked waffles on a sheet to keep warm. You can also cool the waffles on a baking rack and then freeze them, reheating under the broiler/grill at your whim.

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