I write from, cook in temperate Santa Cruz…my apologies for insensitivity to readers suffering in Phoenix, Miami, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Riverside, all hot spots around the country….it is not fair…
Apologies given, then, in today’s vernacular, I’ll “unpack” that title…
We had friends coming for Sunday breakfast, I was exhausted (I’ve been cleaning up the garage for ten days now, one more day to go), and for inspiration I turned to a cookbook I’m mad about: Food 52 Genius Recipes (100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook).*
Kristen Miglore has composed a joyous collection of recipes, each with an interesting innovation. Quoting the book, “…the most talked about, just-crazy-enough-to-work recipes of our time…” from Paul Bertolli’s magical “Cauliflower Soup” to Barbara Kafka’s breakthrough “Simplest Roast Chicken” to Sylvia Thompson’s memorable if I do say so myself “Fresh Ginger Cake.” (Tonight I’m trying Francis Lam’s “Pasta with Let-My-Eggplant-Go-Free! Puree.”)
I found what I needed, wanted: “Raised Waffles” from Marion Cunningham.
Miglore notes: “Getting a jumpstart on your waffle batter the night before breakfast isn’t just clever time management, and it isn’t a questionable shortcut–it will actually get you a better waffle…”
For sure. You’ll be delighted and surprised how crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and uncommonly delicious yeast-raised waffles are.
Actually, the recipe comes from Fannie Farmer.
Likely it was Judith Jones, Knopf’s incomparable editor, whose notion it was to bring The Fannie Farmer Cookbook--first published in 1896**–into the 1990’s. And likely she chose Marion Cunningham to tackle the revision for the cookbook’s thirteenth edition.*** Marion was a beautiful spirit devoted to American plainsong. For example, she championed good old Iceberg lettuce, snubbed by many of the culinary establishment: in her list of “Types of Salad Greens,” Iceberg comes first.
Cunningham’s colossal work opens with her tribute, “Reflections on 100 Years of Fannie Farmer.” I was sweetly surprised to find at the end Marion wrote, “I wish I could sit down right now at a table with Fannie and eat her one-of-a-kind Raised Waffles and tell her what a wonderful legacy she has left for all of us American home cooks.”
I wonder in which edition Fannie Farmer introduced this recipe. And Bill wondered about the waffle iron…
Wiki**** tells us irons impressing dough into wafers were common in France in the 12th-13th centuries. “Two hinged iron plates connected to two long, wooden handles” were held over the hearth fire. Wiki then notes the stove-top waffle iron in America was first patented in 1869–likely Miss Farmer would have had one. General Electric began producing “a prototype electric waffle iron” around 1918. I also wonder whether Miss (she never married) Farmer made yeast-risen waffles for herself of a Boston Sunday morning…
Her recipe says it makes 8 waffles. But of course it depends on the size of the waffle iron. Ours bakes round 7-inch waffles and I get 10 to 12 cakes. The recipe notes “This batter will keep well for several days in the refrigerator.” No kidding. When batter is leftover, Bill and I agree Monday morning’s waffles are even more delicious…
Allow just 15-20 minutes to put the batter together before going to bed.
Best Ever Old-Fashioned Yeast-Raised Waffles
1/2 cup warm water — 120-130 degrees for Instant, 100-110 for Active Dry yeast
1 packet (1/4 ounce / 7 grams) Instant or Active Dry yeast*****
2 cups warm milk — same temperature as the water
4 ounces / 113 grams / 1 stick / 1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups (8-1/2 ounces / 250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
A little melted butter or baking spray for the waffle iron
The night before serving:
In a 2-1/2 to 3-quart mixing bowl, combine warm water and yeast, whisk to blend. Let stand for about 5 minutes while the yeast dissolves and you warm the milk and melt the butter. Add milk, butter, salt, and sugar to the yeast, whisk till blended, then add the flour and beat till smooth with a whisk or egg beater. Cover the bowl with parchment or waxed paper, secure with a rubber band, set out of harm’s way at room temperature overnight.
Take the eggs out of the fridge to bring to room temp for the morning.
When ready to serve:
Heat the waffle iron while beating the eggs in a small bowl until yolks and whites are blended. Sprinkle the baking soda over the batter in the big bowl, add the eggs, and beat until well mixed. The batter will be thin.
When the waffle iron is very hot, quickly brush the plates with butter or spray lightly with a baking spray–this rich batter can stick. Ladle in batter to fill about half the area–it will spread… you’ll quickly get the hang of how much to use with your iron. Bake until a rich gold. As the iron seasons, you won’t need to lubricate.
Turn any leftover batter into a jar, cover and refrigerate…a treat of waffles mid-week!
*Miglore, Kristen. Food 52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook. Ten Speed Press. Berkeley. 2015.
**Initially titled The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook.
***Cunningham, Marion. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of America’s Great Classic Cookbook. New York. Alfred A. Knopf. 1996.
****en.wikipedia.org accessed July 29, 2023.
****The King Arthur website recommends Instant yeast for all baking, so I used that, but either Rapid Rise or Active Dry is fine.