I can’t think of a better night to pull out the waffle iron than tomorrow night.
Come to think of it, I can’t think of a time 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. And tomorrow, on the Eve of Lent, may I suggest in lieu of the Pancake Supper, make Waffles! 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. And to fool myself into thinking, I’ve done something healthy, big fresh blueberries top the whole thing. Although the sides of bacon likely negate any health claim for this recipe.
The Waffle is astoundingly ancient.
The country most famous for Waffles is Belgium where there are over a dozen regional recipes for Belgian waffles. In England “the waffle” first appeared in 1725, directly derived from the Flemish word ‘wafle’. The waffle goes back much further: to the 9th and 10th centuries. This was when the first communion wafer irons (fer à hosties/hostiezers) were invented. Generally, these communion wafer irons depicted Jesus and his crucifixion. The irons were almost always round. Early recipes for oublies were composed of flour and water. 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, waffles grew and grew in popularity.
Waffles 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.
Call it “Fat Tuesday” or Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday.
Shrove Tuesday sparks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter Sunday. Shrove Tuesday dates back to Anglo-Saxon times when Christians would go to confession and were ‘shriven’ (acquitted from their sins). The tradition comes from families using up all of the treats in their kitchen in the form of pancakes, ready to start Lent the next day, where they give up something (usually chocolate, sweets, or alcohol) for Lent. The ingredients for pancakes symbolize four points of significance at Easter. Eggs signify creation, flour is said to be the staff of life, salt is for wholesomeness and milk symbolizes purity. Shrove Tuesday quickly spread through Europe. Mardi Gras arrived in the United States as a small festival marking French explorers Sieur de Bienville and Pierre Le Moyne d’lberville’s landing on what is now New Orleans, Louisiana on March 3, 1699. Here’s today’s 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 powder, 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 batter, 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 golden 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.