15 June 2009

Bbq & Waffles Go Together Like...

Waffle iron

On bbq day, I'm generally up pretty early.  Brisket can take as long as 12 hours to cook properly, so unless you want to be eating dinner late, an early start is required.  So after I get the meat out to warm up, and start the fire, I might as well make a nice breakfast.  How about buttermilk waffles?  Waffles are all technique, no ingredients.  The only thing you should need that's not in your pantry is the buttermilk.

Good waffles use the magic power of eggs.  Eggs are awesome.  And understanding how awesome they are is what makes working with them easier.  Egg yolks have the power of emulsification.  Emulsions are cool, so let's talk about them for a bit.  If you mix oil and water in a measuring cup, the oil will float to the top and you'll have two layers.  The oil layer.  And the water layer.  Emulsifiers make it so that you can get one homogeneous mix of oil and water.  Dishwashing detergent does this, but doesn't taste good enough to put in waffles or custards.  Egg yolks can also do this.  The trick is to add the oil to the yolks slowly, so that the yolks can coat the oil and suspend it.  So you beat the egg yolks until they're nice and yellow and yummy looking homogeneous mess, and then slowly add whatever you're suspending.  In the case of waffles, it's buttermilk and butter.  If you've done it properly, you'll get a liquid that's the same consistency throughout.  If you've done it wrong, the butter will float to the surface.

Alright, so on to the waffles.  I use the recipe in the 1967 version of the Joy of Cooking.  Really, get the book.  But don't get the newer versions (anything that has the name Ethan Becker on the cover, roughly 1995-present).  Because they "modernized" the book.  Which is to say, they made it suck.

The buttermilk waffle recipe:
4-cups pre-sifted all-purpose flour (gotta sift it first to get this right)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 2/3 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
3 1/2 cups buttermilk
12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 egg whites
Mix all the dry ingredients well.  Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks until they're bright, yellow and a bit fluffy looking.  Slowly add the buttermilk while mixing.  Then add the melted butter.  Slowly.  While mixing.


If you've done this part properly, when you stop mixing, the butter won't separate from the rest of the mix.

Now, clean off your beaters.  You can't have any fat in the egg white, or it won't beat properly.  In a clean bowl with the clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they're stiff.  That means that when you pull the beater up, the egg whites hold the shape that you leave.

Beating egg white

Now mix.  Anytime you have baking powder, you need to mix quickly so you don't over-hydrate the rising power of the baking powder.  So you mix quickly with as few motions as possible.  So mix the egg-fat emulsion with the dry ingredients as with as few motions as possible.  Then fold in the egg whites, again with as few motions as you can, so that the egg whites continue to add stability to the batter.    
Folding egg white

Now fire up your waffle iron, and we're good to go. (As a side note, does anyone know a good waffle iron?  As best as I can tell, all modern waffle irons suck - mine is passable, but certainly not hot enough).

Pour some batter with a ladel onto the hot iron (you'll want to cover about the center of the iron, the waffle will spread - see photo below).

Cook the waffle until it's done to the level of brownness that suits you.  Consider this your Canadian public service announcement:
Do yourself a favour.  Buy real maple syrup to serve with it.  Real maple syrup turns waffles and pancakes from being something banal to being something special.  And you're worth it.  Sure, maple syrup is more expensive, but it's soooo tasty.  And you'll use less of it than you will of that garbage phony maple syrup.  The corn syrup in a crappy Aunt Jemima syrup really isn't that tasty.  

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