I've always loved waffles, anyway I could get them: with butter and syrup, whipped cream and fruit, bacon on the side, or, even better, bacon crumbled right into the batter. As a kid, Nanna once served her homemade waffles to us grand kids with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. For lunch! It was so decadent and outrageous. More importantly, for the daughter of a health nut, it smacked of rebellion... I loved every bite.
As a waffle lover, my waffle iron gets fairly regular use, but I've never been loyal to a particular recipe. I used to look for ones that call for the egg whites to be beaten until fluffy before being gently folded into the batter. While tedious, this method generally helps create a light and crisp waffle, though the resulting waffles are never as light and crisp as I'd like them to be. I've found many nice recipes, but never one that made me want to commit to it.
Well, no more. I've finally found the waffle recipe I want to marry: Marion Cunningham's yeast-raised waffles. The juxtaposition of an ethereally crisp exterior with a soft and tender interior is everything I always wanted in a waffle. Plus they have a wonderful yeasty tang from the overnight fermentation. Sure, there's a copious amount of butter, but you don't feel like you're eating something terribly heavy, so you can easily have more than one. (I suppose this could be interpreted as a good or bad thing, but trust me it's good.) At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, it's waffle nirvana.
Oh, and even though these waffles would be well worth a ton of trouble, they're actually really easy to make. The most difficult part of this recipe is making sure the water isn't hot enough to kill the yeast. Actually, on second thought, the hardest part might be having the patience to wait the 8-12 hours for the yeast to do its magic. But, with a little pre-planning, this is no big deal and actually nice for a lazy weekend breakfast.
I'm not sure what else I can say to impress upon you how good these waffles are... you just seriously need to make these waffles!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Overnight Yeast Waffles
This recipe instructs you to let your milk-laden batter rise overnight... at room temperature. Don't let this freak you out! I've made these waffles a few times now with absolutely no issues. However, if you feel like you absolutely can't leave your batter on the counter overnight, Deb Perlman from Smitten Kitchen attests that a refrigerated rise will also work, but she warns that the waffles' flavor, though excellent, is not nearly as good as the flavor of the waffles with the room temperature rise. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but I strongly urge you to give the room temperature rise a try!
Yield: about 7-8 waffles (will vary greatly based on the size of your waffle iron)
1/2 cup warm water (about 105 to 110 degrees)1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 cups milk, warmed (but not hot)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until lukewarm
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Nonstick cooking spray for waffle iron
Pour warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over top; gently stir to combine. Allow the yeast to activate, about 15 minutes -- the yeast should be dissolved and starting to foam slightly. Whisk in milk, butter, salt, sugar, and flour until well combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise overnight (or 8-12 hours) at room temperature.
The next morning, heat your waffle iron and coat it lightly with cooking spray. Meanwhile, gently whisk in eggs and baking soda into the batter until smooth. Depending on the size of your waffle iron, ladle in anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 cup of batter. [Start small -- this batter is fairly runny and will spread quickly. I had a couple overflows in the beginning.] Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve immediately and enjoy with maple syrup, whipped cream, fruit, fried chicken, ice cream... basically whatever your heart desires!
-Waffles can be stowed on a cooling rack to keep them crisp until needed. They can also be stashed in a low oven to keep warm (just don't put them directly on a baking sheet, tray, etc. or their bottoms will get soft).
-I like to double this recipe and then freeze the extras. I intentionally don't let my waffles get too brown if I know they are freezer bound. To reheat, simply pop a frozen waffle in the toaster, just like you would your Eggos!