I have a waffle maker, which has become a heavily used appliance in the last several months. Making waffles from scratch is easy, and the variations are endless. I use the recipes in my Betty Crocker cookbook, which provides a basic recipe and several variations — most frequently, I make the whole wheat version. I’ve also made waffles with cornmeal, and have tried buttermilk waffles (though they aren’t as good as buttermilk pancakes for some reason). Usually I make a half batch of the batter, which keeps for a couple of days in the fridge, and eat them for breakfast and snacks. I’ll throw all kinds of things on the batter before I close the lid — flax seeds, wheat germ, chopped nuts. Depending on what kind I’ve made, I’ll add fruit, chocolate chips, butter, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup on top. My waffle iron makes round waffles with four segments, so it’s easy to control the portions.
I made a batch of waffles this weekend, and tried a new recipe. When I opened the fridge to get the milk and eggs, I spied a half-empty container of sour cream, and figured I’d see if I could find a recipe to use that up. My Betty Crocker didn’t have a variation, but a quick Google search led me to Alton Brown’s recipe for Sour Cream and Pecan Waffles. I had just enough sour cream — sold!
As I have found with the buttermilk, these were good but not stellar. I didn’t feel like they really tasted all that different from a plain waffle, which is too bad because sour cream is tasty. I will probably put a stickie note with the proportions next to waffle recipes in the Betty Crocker, as it’s a great way to use up some sour cream that you want to get out of the fridge. But I can’t say I would go out of my way to make them.
This slight disappointment got me thinking about how waffles are really made by what you top them with. One of my favorite combinations is chocolate chips with strawberries, and that brings back memories of the dining hall at Warren Towers on Sundays. That was a day when us nerds won out, because the ability to get up right when the dining hall opened for breakfast meant that you could get in and get a waffle before the irons started to stick. Past a certain point, it didn’t matter how much spray you put to the waffle iron, your waffle was doomed to stick and would only come off the iron in pieces. Plus, they would stat to run out of toppings. I actually bought the waffle iron I still use now my senior year, when I lived in an on-campus apartment. I had a meal plan but needed the meals for during the week between classes and jobs, and I missed the waffles.
More recently, for my first monthly brunch this fall I did a waffle bar, and made spiced peaches as a topping. These were absolutely delicious (in particular on a cornmeal waffle — this obviously isn’t my Betty Crocker recipe, but it’s close enough). It also makes for an unusual, sophisticated brunch offering that is easy to make and would definitely impress any houseguest. The spiced peaches keep overnight and are easy to heat up on the stove (just don’t cook them down too far before you store them for the night) and you can also make the waffle batter the night before if you’re so inclined. From there you can have waffles coming off the iron in the time it takes a pot of coffee to brew. A side of eggs or some bacon and you’re good to go!
I’ve also started wondering about savory toppings lately. I have such a sweet tooth that I don’t usually consider savory options for things like this. But, the success of the spiced peaches got me thinking about the peach chutney I made, and wondering what kind of waffle that would go with. What other savory things do I like? Cheese, of course — what about a cheddar waffle, combined with a couple of slices of fresh apple? Focaccia style, with fresh herbs and olive oil and a slice or two of lovely, juicy in-season tomato? Or a cornmeal waffle topped with an egg and some salsa? I could sit here brainstorming all night, but given the time that I’m writing this (ah, asynchronous blog posting) I probably shouldn’t.
There is definitely another waffle bar brunch in my future (it’s a great one for summer, because waffles don’t heat up the house) and I think this one will be even better than last time.