Weekend mornings are supposed to be a calm affair. There’s no throwing of alarm clocks against the wall, no bleary-eyed preparation of brown-bag lunches, no chaining yourself to a coffee thermos to power through the first hours of the morning. No, the morning doesn’t seem cruel when it finds you on Saturday or Sunday. The light is muted rather than harsh, and you’ve got time to wrap your hands around a warm mug while you read the paper (or simply let your mind wander).
I imagine we all seek that sort of feeling with our weekend breakfasts: we crave something good enough to linger over, but any supreme effort would feel out of place in our bubbles of stress-free existence. Enter yeast-raised waffles. With a batter meant to be left on the counter overnight, you can luxuriate in their maple-drenched goodness after only a whisk and a pour in the a.m.
Okay, you’ll also need to prepare your forearm muscles — it’s imperative that you slice some ripe strawberries as an accompaniment. And you’ll need some hand-eye coordination to ensure that your whipped cream lands squarely on the waffle. Depending on how full your maple syrup bottle is, you might even have to enlist your biceps for the all-important syrup shower.
But seriously, for a truly stress-free plate of waffles, you should learn from my silly mistakes. I made a whole-wheatified version of Nicole Rees’s recipe (after baking her overnight cinnamon rolls, I’ve become a devoted fan), but also made a significant miscalculation. This was news to me, but apparently there are two (two!) different types of waffle iron: Belgian and standard. I associated the Eggos of my youth with lameness, and the thick Belgian confections with delicious restaurant-y goodness — and thus never dreamed that a thin waffle iron existed. This was clearly an absurd line of logic. But because Nicole Rees’s recipe wasn’t meant for my Belgian iron, the first beautifully crisp waffle turned out to be just a tad raw inside.
Don’t let this caveat frighten you! If you heed my simple warning, next Saturday morning will be as easy and relaxing for you as the best-case scenario described above. (My subsequent batches of Belgians were incredible, not just edible, after ten minutes in a 350-degree oven; I thought of them as twice-baked waffles.) The yeast-risen batter produces a shattering crust and moist crumb unlike any I’ve ever tasted. I might even be inspired to invest in a new waffle iron!
Makes 12-14 standard (not Belgian!) waffles
Adapted from Baking Unplugged
– 2 1/2 cups milk
– 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 cup white whole wheat flour (Note: If you don’t have this on hand, simply substitute the same amount of all-purpose)
– 1 1/2 teaspoon fast-acting yeast, also known as “quick-rising” or “instant”
– 1 tsp. sugar
– 1/2 tsp. salt
– 2 large eggs, at room temperature
– 1/2 tsp. baking soda
– pure maple syrup, sliced fruit, and whipped cream for serving
1) In a large bowl, stir together flours, yeast, sugar, and salt.
2) In a small saucepan, heat the milk until just boiling, then take saucepan off heat. Stir in the butter until melted and evenly distributed.
3) Let the milk and butter cool until very warm. Stir into the flour mixture, discarding any brown bits from the bottom of the saucepan, and combine thoroughly. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let sit overnight (from 6-10 hours, maximum).
4) In the morning, whisk eggs and baking soda together, then stir gently into the bubbly waffle batter.
5) Lightly grease and preheat a standard (not Belgian) waffle iron. Read manufacturer’s instructions, and add the amount of waffle batter recommended. Cook as instructed; waffles will generally be done in 1.5-3 minutes, depending on desired crispness. (Watch for the decrease in steam as a helpful indicator of doneness.) Keep waffles in a warm oven, directly on the rack, while cooking the rest.
6) Serve with or without the fruit and whipped cream, but make sure to douse waffles in pure maple syrup — your taste buds will thank you.