I don’t like one-use kitchen gadgets. Well, that’s not true, I do like them actually. I love them. I am drawn to them in those little catalogues that come through the door, brimming with plastic and promise, like a magpie. But my small kitchen doesn’t love them. My overflowing drawers and crowded worktops don’t love them. After ditching my garlic peeler and my egg poacher, my milk frother and my (ahem) hot dog slicer, I have made a pact with myself that any utensil or equipment I bring into the kitchen has to do some heavy-lifting. No single-purpose gadgets shall darken my door any longer.
But there is one exception: my waffle maker. I feel hypocritical, I do, but I can’t give up my waffle maker. You see, waffles are one of those kitchen rareties that you really, really can’t make without the proper gear. Ditching that egg poacher hasn’t stopped me poaching eggs; I’m quite capable of peeling garlic with just a knife. But you can’t game waffles; it’s waffle maker or bust (with a small caveat below). And lifting the lid on that first cooked waffle, golden-brown and aromatic, I know my new minimalism doesn’t stand a chance.
A well-cooked waffle is amongst the best of breakfasts, and this recipe won’t disappoint: an underlying sweetness from the honey is balanced by the savoury depths of the yeast, rounded out by a slow, overnight ferment. The waffle batter is yeasted and fridged overnight, and then, just before cooking, the bicarbonate of soda, salt and eggs are added. The combination of the yeast, the bicarb and the buttermilk produces the lightest, crispest waffles you will ever encounter. I doubt you need me to tell you how to eat waffles, but let me reassure you that these waffles pair as perfectly with smoked streaky bacon as they do with a simple pat of butter and drizzle of maple syrup.
Be led by your waffle maker when it comes to technicalities like preheating, turning, and readiness – but also by your own tastes; my waffle maker is convinced that its waffles are ready a good minute before they reach the crispness I’m after. If you don’t have a waffle maker, and you don’t fancy cluttering your kitchen, but you do like the sound of this recipe, this batter will work wonderfully cooked as you would American pancakes.
Makes: 6 large waffles
Takes: 10 minutes (plus overnight resting)
Bakes: 20 minutes
300g plain flour
2 tsp instant yeast
3 tablespoons honey
115g butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the plain flour and instant yeast, then add the buttermilk, honey and melted butter, stirring with a spatula until the mixture is combined and gloopy. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
2. The following morning, when you’re ready to cook, add the eggs, salt and bicarbonate of soda to the chilled waffle batter, mixing thoroughly. Heat your waffle maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (I like mine on the highest setting), and spoon mixture into the centre of the waffle maker – the exact amount will depend on your waffle maker, so again, be led by your manufacturer’s instructions.
3. Remove the waffles from the machine when they are golden brown, taut and crisp, and come away easily from the iron plates – I find this means cooking them for longer than the little green light on my machine suggests.
4. You can keep the ready waffles warm and crisp in a low oven while you continue cooking the others. Waffles are far better eaten immediately, but will crisp back up when toasted briefly.