I'm in a breakfast vibe as I sit at my computer this morning enjoying a delicious, energy-dense, perfectly boiled egg. So in that spirit, I thought I would share another classic breakfast recipe: waffles.
Waffles are more of a special-occasion kind of breakfast food--you know, a Sunday morning kind of thing. Obviously there's more work involved here than making a boiled egg. But this waffle recipe is fairly easy, comes out great every time, and I think it will also be a useful vehicle for teaching couple of important basic tasks in cooking. So, as a bonus, today you'll learn 1) how to separate egg whites, and 2) how to beat egg whites to the right consistency.
These two tasks might be too basic for some of my readers. If so, feel free to skip those sections--although you might miss out on a few off-color jokes. Those of you who are newer to the kitchen will find that these are tasks that will show up in many areas of cooking and baking, and thus you simply must learn them. I'll try my best to make it amusing for you.
Finally, I'll write a companion post to this one in the next few days which will venture into yet another level of cooking: teaching you how modify a recipe.
So, to begin with, here's my basic waffle recipe (with of course a generous thank you to June Koontz!)
(A couple of quick introductory notes: First, remember to read the recipe twice! Also, those of you who are new to baking and haven't separated or beaten egg whites before, be sure to take a hard look at the starred paragraphs below before starting up the recipe. Finally, you'll obviously need a waffle iron for this recipe. I suggest you consider this model:Black & Decker G48TD Grill and Waffle Baker --it's the kind we use. Take a look at the bottom of this post for a graphical link to Amazon's site where you can buy one if you need to.)
1 3/4 cups sifted flour (important that you sift the flour, THEN re-measure exactly 1 3/4 cups of the flour post sifting--this makes the waffles light and fluffy)
1/8 teaspoon salt (note that here is an instance where using salt is NOT cheating)
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 egg yolks, separated from the whites
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup corn oil or vegetable oil (not olive oil)
2 stiff-beaten egg whites
Combine dry ingredients (sifted flour, salt and baking powder) in a flour sifter.
Then separate the yolks and whites of the two eggs.* Put the whites in one medium-sized mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer set at high speed, until stiffly beaten.**
Put the yolks in another mixing bowl. Add in the milk and oil. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed.
Add sifted dry ingredients to yolk/oil/milk mixture and beat for another 2 minutes at medium speed until combined.
Then, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk/dry ingredients mixture. Note: use a rubber scraper here, do NOT use the electric mixer. Using a mixer here will pretty much traumatize the batter and your waffles will come out a lot less fluffy.
Pre-heat the waffle iron, and while it's warming up, coat both sides of the cooking surface with a thin layer of vegetable oil. You will only need to do this once each time you cook waffles, right before you cook the very first one. This prevents the waffle batter from sticking to the iron. Use a simple cooking bristle brush (you should easily be able to find these in your grocery store, but here you can find a picture of a typical brush).
Add batter to the waffle iron (maybe 3/4 of a cup of batter, give or take, per waffle) and cook until golden brown.
A final note. Please, please use real maple syrup on your waffles. I forbid you to use Aunt Jemima high-fructose phony syrup. It's a crime.
* A Quick Tutorial on How to Separate Egg Whites:
This will be a quick sidebar on how to separate and then stiffly beat egg whites: This is sort of a delicate operation, but with a little practice you'll get great at it.
First, crack the egg gently on a sharp edge somewhere (don't use your rock hard abs this time--instead, try the edge of the mixing bowl you're using). Your goal here is to get a nice easy crack around the circumference of the middle of the egg. Then, hold the egg upright over a medium-sized mixing bowl and gently break open the egg, but make sure to keep the yolk part sitting in the lower half of the shell. Some of the white will run out over the shell's edge and into the bowl. Next, just transfer the yolk into the other half shell, letting the white run off and into the bowl below. Be careful to keep the yolk whole--don't let it rub or scrape against a jagged edge of the egg shell. You don't want to let any yolk mix in with the egg white. Just pass the yolk back and forth between halves of the broken egg a couple of times and let the rest of the white drop into the mixing bowl below. Then, drop the yolk into the OTHER mixing bowl.
Try not to get frustrated if you don't get it right the first time, you can always ditch that egg and try again with another. This is sort of a finesse operation that will get easier with practice.
** A Second Quick (and Off-Color) Tutorial on Stiffly-Beaten Egg Whites.
"Stiffly-beaten" is not a sexual double entendre. Seriously, it's actually a real cooking term. In simplest terms, it means you beat the hell out of the egg whites with an electric mixer set on high (a hand mixer like this one is best). This whips air into the egg whites and they grow and grow, and get thicker and thicker (and no, that is NOT a double entendre either) and foamier and foamier.
You will know you are done when "stiff peaks" form (come on!! get your mind out of the gutter!), which means if you stop the beater and then slowly lift the blades out of the fluffy egg white mixture, the egg white mass in the bowl below forms a peak that will kind of point up and stay pointed. This is in contrast to "soft peaks" where the tips sag and kind of curl down (this is getting to be over the top I know, but please concentrate! We're cooking here).
Uh, anyhoo, you'll see what I mean as you do this yourself. When you're finished beating the hell out of the egg whites, they'll turn into a light, fluffy foam-like material that, when gently added back to the waffle mix, will make your waffles deliciously light and airy.
Enjoy! And remember what I said about real maple syrup...