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Dinner Tonight | LEARNING TO COOK / MARION CUNNINGHAM

The Best Waffles Ever

July 21, 1999|MARION CUNNINGHAM

When you read recipes that call for specific amounts of ingredients, rather than a pinch of this and a dash of that, you can thank Fannie Merritt Farmer, who has been called "the mother of the level measurement." In 1898, as the director of Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cooking School, she published "The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook." This highly influential book was one of the first to use a modern recipe format.

She was born to cook. To me, an example of her great talent is her Raised Waffles, the best waffles I've ever had. They make a perfect meal when served with grapefruit and crisply fried pepper bacon. You can also use these waffles in place of shortcake as a base for strawberries and whipped cream.

If you are in the market for a waffle iron to make these, don't buy a Belgian waffle iron. Get the old-fashion waffle iron with shallow crevices; they are much more suitable for these waffles. And as good as they are, why would you want any other?

Raised Waffles

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 45 minutes plus 8 hours standing time

1/2 cup warm water

1/4-ounce package dry yeast

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut in 8 pieces

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups flour

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Butter and warmed maple syrup

* Put warm water in large mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast over top. Stir once or twice and leave to dissolve, about 5 minutes.

* Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat, watching carefully and tilting pan so butter melts evenly but doesn't burn. Add milk and stir until just warm, but not hot.

* Add warm butter and milk to yeast mixture, along with salt, sugar and flour. Beat with spoon, wire whisk or rotary beater until batter is smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set batter aside overnight at room temperature. Batter will bubble up and then subside.

* Just before cooking waffles, add eggs and baking soda and beat until smooth. Batter will be very thin.

* Spray cool waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray, or turn on iron and when warm, grease both sides with oil (new waffle irons have nonstick coatings and don't require greasing).

* Close lid and when waffle iron is very hot, pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into it. Don't cover whole surface of waffle iron, as batter will expand and spread during cooking. You will learn how much batter to use by doing first waffle. Close lid and cook.

* After 3 to 4 minutes, check to see whether waffle is done. When waffle iron has stopped emitting steam, lift top of waffle iron carefully--you don't want to tear waffle. Waffle should appear golden brown. If still pale, close top and bake 1 to 2 minutes.

* When first waffle is done, lift lid of waffle iron and gently pry out waffle with fork. Serve hot with butter and pitcher of warm syrup. While first round of waffles are being eaten, make second batch. If you don't use all of batter, store in refrigerator, tightly covered, up to several days.

6 (8-inch-square) waffles. Each waffle: 346 calories; 612 mg sodium; 118 mg cholesterol; 19 grams fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 0.11 gram fiber.

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