A geometrically sweet start to the New Year


Food / Monday, January 1st, 2018

Happy New Year !  The first day of the rest of the year. What better way to start than on a sweet note ?

I am talking about waffles and I happen to just love their perfectly geometrical look, perhaps even more so than their taste. Waffles also happens to be my son’s favorite breakfast.  I don’t make them all that often. My son will attest to it in front of anyone willing to listen to his complaints about the unfairness of life in denying him a fair share of waffles. So it makes it all the more special when I do make it.

It always fascinates me to find the origins of a food and the rich history behind each. If I were not an engineer I could have been an anthropologist studying human history and cultures through their food. They are in fact so interwoven that you coudn’t study one without the other. The identity of our cultures is so strongly associated with our foods. This is true for people in any corner of the planet irrespective of the diversity of lifestyles and food, be it the Hazda in the Amazon, the Uighurs in the deserts of Mongolia or the Indians with their vast diaspora. Post Internet era adds an interesting complexity to this story since now for the first time billions of people have ready access to any recipe from any culture at their kitchen table. This is transforming the modern kitchen and we are adapting recipes from all over the world and making them our own. Which is a very good thing in my mind – how can you not like a culture once you have made a recipe from their culture and fallen in love with it ? We, in this household thank the Dutch for special breakfast days 🙂

Interesting historical fact – the first waffle irons were used to make communion wafers and were stamped with religious motifs. The first waffle recipe published in year 1725 in the book Court Cookery. Here is the exact recipe.

How carefree is this recipe, if it burns add more butter? There is no going wrong with this recipe, if it does throw in some more butter.

The recipe I use substitutes banana for eggs . You could use two eggs in it’s place. I ferment the batter overnight. The fermentation creates complex flavors that make them all the more delicious and airy. The fermentation also makes them much much healthier than quick mixes. (Fermentation is a topic that is dear to my heart and I hope to write about that separately and in detail over the coming months.)

These waffles are really light in texture and not overly sweet. You can use them with savory or sweet toppings. We have so far stuck with Maple syrup.

I use an old fashioned cast iron waffle iron since I avoid all nonstick appliances. Mine is so well seasoned by now that I have no issues with stickiness. For health reasons I suggest that you invest in a cast iron one.

The recipe uses finely ground whole wheat flour (Atta) and sometimes if my sourdough starter is on my counter, I also add a small amount of it to the batter (about a tsp) for sourdough flavor. The recipe is adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum, one of my favorite bakers.

Ingredients

Atta or all purpose flour                                       2 cups                                   284 grams water                                                                    1/2 liquid cup to 3/4 cup     120 grams – 180 grams
warm milk                                                             2 liquid cups                        484 grams
active dry yeast                                                     2 1/4 teaspoon                    7 grams
melted unsalted butter                                         8 tablespoons                      113 grams
salt                                                                        3/4 teaspoon                        5 grams
sugar                                                                    1 teaspoon                           4 grams
baking soda                                                          1/4 teaspoon
ripe banana                                                           1 medium sized

Process

The previous night, mix the warm water with the yeast and sugar and let it proof for about 10 minutes. If your yeast is active you should see a lot of bubbles.

Add the milk, water, melted butter, salt and flour and mix until there are no lumps. I use my kitchenaid mixer on low to mix until I see no lumps in the batter. The batter should be of easily pourable consistency. If you are using atta then it will absorb more water, hence add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to adjust the consistency.

Let this batter stand covered overnight. Please use a really big bowl to hold this. I still remember the first time I made this. I woke up to a kitchen counter overflowing with batter.

When you are ready to make the waffles, smash the banana completely and add it to the batter. Mix in the baking soda and beat everything well.

Preheat both sides of the waffle iron and I use a little brush of ghee on my irons before pouring in the batter. The batter will spread as it cooks. I cook it for a few minutes on each side. Take a slight peek and if not browned to your liking cook it some more. The cook timings are different with each waffle iron, you need to figure out with experimenting with the first waffle.

Enjoy the waffles with some maple syrup while still hot.

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