Friday, August 26, 2005
The World's Greatest Waffles
There are certain moments in life that for some reason just stand out in the memory. There are the obvious moments of course; weddings, graduations, the birth of a child certainly remain as cherished times. I'm not talking about those moments though. What I am referring to are those seemingly pedestrian moments that when they occur don't strike one as special, yet years later we can relive the moment almost exactly as we experienced it the first time. All the old feelings return.
For me these moments seem to span my experience, and I haven't been able to find a common thread. I remember the day I was at Soldier Field in Chicago and saw Walter Payton gain 275 yards in one game against the Vikings. I remember the Monday morning in 1975 or early 1976 when my friend Scott walked up to me in the hallway with a badly recorded tape, and the look of the converted in his eyes. To this day every time I hear anything from "Toys in the Attic" I remember Scott's distant gaze and the thrill of hearing those tunes. I remember the moment I met this new trainee at work, in her gray '80's business suit, complete with shoulder pads, ruffled neck line shirt and gold brooch. I don't really know if love was instantaneous, but I did know in that instant my world had changed.
I suppose then the one connective thread that runs through all these moments was that in some way, no matter how trivial it may have seemed to others, my world was rocked. Walter's running was like nothing I'd ever seen a combination of grace and determination. Steven Tyler's voice cutting through Joe Perry's guitar work was gritty and beautiful at the same time. Mrs. P, of course, really did change my life.
Which somewhat uninevitably leads me to waffles.
Readers here know I really enjoy food in all its styles. I couldn't care less if it is the product of a 3 day preparatory extravaganza, or just some really excellent French fries. Food well done is an experience that can rock your world. Which is why waffles are so important. Of all the breakfast foods waffles more than any other hold the power to thrill, but more often than not disappoint. Hastily prepared by indifferent hash slingers, the waffles we usually get served end up as undifferentiated piles of soggy dough. Even worse are the poor dupes who have been convinced that a really good waffle is one that is heaped with jellied fruit, whipped cream, and other condiments too horrible to imagine.
So my friends, today I do you a great service. Below I have provided what I assure you is the world's greatest waffle recipe. As with the great moments above, I remember the day my pal Joe called me on the phone and asked, "did you try the waffle recipe in Sauver?" Something about the tone in his voice made me aware that he had tapped into the mother lode of waffles.
So I grabbed my copy, read the recipe and set out to try then for myself. Incredible. Simply incredible. Made correctly, which is not hard, this recipe will produce waffles of a unique and glorious texture. A crispy exterior, and warm moist interior that yields a yeasty flavor in the mouth. They manage to be both exquisitely light and entirely satisfying. You can add some spice to them, perhaps a little nutmeg, cinnamon or mace, but be forewarned: Do anything else and I shall forsake you as an internet pal.
The real beauty thing about these babies is that most of the work is done the night before. In fact, I can attest to the fact that preparing the waffles in the, ahem glow, ahem of a multiple bottle of wine night with friends is perfectly doable, and arguably necessary for recovery from the inevitable morning blahs the next day. Just be a bit careful around the Kitchenaide mixer!
So print this baby off and try 'em on your family tomorrow. I guarantee that they will be vibrating with joy in the morning.
Makes 8 waffles
1 7oz pkg of dry yeast
2 Cups warm milk
1/4t baking soda
The night before:
Proof yeast in 1/2 C warm water. After 8-10 minutes add milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour. Beat with a mixer on medium for 2-3 minutes. Cover in plastic, let stand overnight at room temperature.
In the morning:
Heat waffle griddle. Wisk eggs and baking soda into the batter. Pour 1/2C batter on the griddle, let set for 30 seconds, and then lower the top. Cook until golden brown and repeat as required. I find that with makers that make a single waffle at a time it is best to serve each person immediately instead of sitting around and waiting until all waffles are cooked.