I can’t think of a better weekend to pull out the waffle iron than the four-day orgy of food that is Thanksgiving. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a weekend when I don’t want to pull out the waffle iron…but sense and Andrew put the kibosh on that idea. So waffles are a very special event around our house. One that is further advanced by the recipe that came with our All Clad Waffle Iron, a Christmas gift from two of our besties, Terry and Shawn. This recipe for Buttermilk Waffles yields a perfect waffle: light as air, with a slight tang of Buttermilk, a crisp crust yielding a tender center. And no waffle is complete without Maple Syrup, preferably Canadian in origin. I also like to butter mine to go completely overboard. And to fool myself into thinking, I’ve done something healthy, big fresh blueberries top the whole thing. And we serve sides of bacon as a counterpoint to all that sweetness.
And why am I posting this on a Monday? Have you ever indulged in Breakfast for Dinner? Or paired Fried Chicken with a waffle? I highly suggest you do. And if you leave out the Fried Chicken or the bacon, you can even call this a Meatless Monday meal. Call it what you will, you may be amazed at the waffles history. It’s astoundingly ancient.
The country most famous for Waffles is Belgium which boasts over a dozen regional recipes for waffles. The English word “waffle” first appeared in 1725, which was directly derived from the Flemish word ‘wafle’. The waffle itself goes much further back in history to the 9th and 10th centuries. This marked the period when the first communion wafer irons (fer à hosties/hostiezers) were invented. Generally these communion wafer irons depicted Jesus and his crucifixion. Simultaneously, wafer irons called “moule a oublies” were used to create larger but more trivial Biblical scenes or simple, emblematic designs. The irons were almost always round. Early recipes for oublies were composed of flour and water. But after the Crusades, flavorings like orange blossom water and honey were added. They became so popular that there was even a Guild made up of Oubliers founded in 1270. They not only produced oublies, they also made other light pastries and finally waffles
For centuries after, they grew and grew in popularity but they were relatively expensive, especially those made with sugar. When Caribbean sugar became widely available in Europe, sugar prices were cut in half and waffle recipes took off. Dutch, Belgian, German and French versions of waffles spread throughout England and America. Waffle parties, known as ‘wafel frolics’ were held as early as 1744 in New Jersey but the Dutch had already established waffles in New Amsterdam (New York City) even before that.
Oddly enough, American waffle making suffered from the introduction of inexpensive beet sugar. This made a wide range of pastries, candies and chocolates accessible to middle class budgets and waffles popularity declined as they were replaced by these other sugar treats. However, they never completely disappeared. Instead, they became something that was made at home and not at bakeries. Their in-home popularity rose with General Electric’s first electric waffle maker in 1918. By the mid 30s, pancake and waffle mixes were marketed under various names like Aunt Jemima and Bisquick. Three brothers from San Jose, CA named Dorsa innovated the first commercial production of frozen waffles which they sold under the name “Eggo” in 1953. Finally, the Belgian Waffle was the hit of World’s Fairs in 1958 in Belgium itself, and the 1964 New York World’s Fair. America has loved its waffles ever since. Just as you will love them when you make this recipe.
Buttermilk Waffles with Blueberries
This is a wonderful way to make waffles. The buttermilk and blueberries add a special tang and a counterpoint to the all-essential Maple Syrup
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 ¾ cups (430 ml.) buttermilk
- 8 tbsp. (1 stick, 125 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 ¾ cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup (90 grams) sugar
- Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1 ½ cups Blueberries
- Maple Syrup for Serving
- Step 1 Preheat waffle maker on medium-high heat.
- Step 2 Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. (95 degrees C.)
- Step 3 In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then whisk in the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla until blended.
- Step 4 Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking power, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture and whisk until smooth. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Step 5 Using a rubber spatula, fold 1 cup (250 ml) of the egg whites into the better, then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
- Step 6 Pour about 1/3 cup (80 ml) into the batter of each well of the waffle maker and close the lid. Cook the waffles until gold brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Step 7 Transfer the waffles to a wire rack set on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat to cook the remaining batter.
- Step 8 Sprinkle the finished waffles with confectioner’s sugar. Top the waffles with Blueberries. Serve the waffles hot with maple syrup.