Monday, January 31, 2011

I'm Back--with Waffles

During my computer deprived time these last two weeks (Or months?  Wasn't it months?), I tried to continue posting using David's computer when it was unoccupied. That effort didn't go so well, for two reasons--one of them a good one.

First, even with a computer to use for what would seem to be plenty of time, it wasn't the same because it wasn't mine.  I felt the same lack when I didn't have my own desk and my own kitchen while we lived with David's parents between houses.  A space, a desk, and tools of my own focus my intentions into action in a way that peripatetic borrowing can't.  While we could technically have gotten by with one computer, and I really didn't want to spend the money on a new one, my own machine sitting on my own desk gives me a place to touch down and set to work in a more flowing fashion, with everything at the ready.

The secondary reason for my lack of communication was improvisational cooking.  Busy Sundays and no research tool left me unable to do my usual recipe-based planning, which left me with no recipes to share, which left me less motivated to write, for what were you fine folk to do with the inspiration certain to be fomented by my fabulous writing and photography?  Of course, I could have written my own recipes, had I paid any attention to ingredient amounts, etc, but I was a little too caught up in the easy doing to be the observer that blogging requires. 

The easy doing part is what makes the secondary problem the good one--for me anyway. I may have wished for something more concrete to share with my tiny corner of the world, but I also savored the freedom of three weeks in a row of extemporaneous cooking. Ideas flowed, the gears did not grind, and it was wonderful. I regretted not writing but reveled in being how I've always wanted to be, one of those people who can just think up dinner pretty much single handedly. That confident freedom was the real reason I went to culinary school, after all. (Although now that I'm paying for it, I sometimes wish that it had been because I wanted a paying job from it.)

But wait.  I said I had waffles.  Let's get to that part. 

One of the few recipes that I used in the last couple of weeks was dug up to give purpose to seltzer water left over from a failed spontaneous drink experiment.  Not being aware of edible, rather than drinkable, uses for the stuff, I conducted a recipe search that yielded two appealing ideas--tempura batter and waffles. 

We shall speak no more of tempura until I have had a little more practice,  but the waffles bear mentioning.  Plus, there's a recipe, so you could even try them, too.  

I've always been, I hate to say, a little disappointed in the waffles I've made. They've turned out more crisp than fluffy, sometimes even downright crunchy, without enough tenderness or chewiness to balance out all that crustiness. The problem may be our gifted waffle iron, which tends to make thin ones, reducing the chance for much of an interior at all, let alone a fluffy one.   Or it may be that the operator (that would be me) needs to get over her fear of overflowing batter and put more on the iron. Whatver the reason, waffles have always been a bit of a let down for someone who almost always prefers to make my own everything.

These curious waffles managed to improve my feelings. Even on our skinny iron, they had the promised combination of crusty outside and tender inside.  They just might convince me to make waffles more often...or to buy a Belgian waffle iron in the hopes of more fluffy interiors...or both.

Who knew bubbly water could work so much magic? (It does the same thing in tempura batter, but I'm still not talking about that.) 

I did make one change to the recipe I used as my guide.  Our friends at Cook's Illustrated contend that butter is bad for waffles because it contains water in addition to fat (yep, learned that at school), which evaporates and dries out the interior of the waffle. Based on their recommendation, I subbed canola oil for the butter in the recipe.  

This may not be the waffle recipe with which to spend my life, but it's definintely an improvement over others I've tried.  And isn't January the perfect month for improvement? 

Club Soda Waffles
from I'll Bite

Makes: ??  Depends on your waffle iron

2 cups all purose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons oil
2 large eggs
14 ounces (1 3/4 cups) club soda or seltzer water

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the oil, eggs, and seltzer and whisk until smooth.

Heat a waffle iron. Brush with oil if it isn't nonstick.  Pour the amount of batter your waffle iron requires on the grids.  Close the lid and bake until browned and crispy.  Serve right away, or place a rack over a baking sheet and keep the waffles in a warm oven until they're all ready.  Or cool them, slide them into a resealable freezer bag and freeze.  Reheat in the oven.


Mel C said...

I love waffles and so this recipe intrigues me... Thank you for sharing!

Ann said...

Thanks for reading and commenting. If you get to try them, let me know if they're "sweet glory." (I miss hearing you say that.)