Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Waffle Obsession

Old-Fashioned Maine Sourdough Waffles
from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 4, Spring 2000 issue KING ARTHUR FLOUR.

Two weeks ago we made our first foray to a little house in Maine that we retreat to as often as we can, tide and season willing. We have no electricity there, but we do have bottled gas and a generator, so we have a gas stove and refrigerator—and kerosene lamps and a woodstove and lots of books. (There's no rhubarb there, but I'm in the process of correcting that.) I usually restock the Maine house's supply of yeast, levain and sourdough every spring. One can't be without those things, wherever one goes. But this time we traveled light, and yeast was all I took.

Sunday morning was clearly a morning for waffles. No sourdough! I tried a couple of other waffle recipes, both of which convinced us that we loved our sourdough waffles best. So I include this recipe here just to state my recommitment and loyalty to sourdough waffles and to give them a little "PR"—and because I'm going to eat the next batch with baked rhubarb and whipped cream.

Making waffles also creates an easy excuse to feed your starter without getting into anything very time-consuming. That said, it's best to start this recipe the day before you want to cook. (Although, being the queen of shortcuts, I know you can make great waffles even if you mix this all up at the last minute.)

The Sponge
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour, Premium or White Whole Wheat
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups (16 ounces) buttermilk
1 cup (8 ounces) sourdough starter*

The Batter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, melted (or vegetable oil)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

*If your starter has been neglected, you would do it (and the waffles) a favor if you
refreshed it the morning before you want to make waffles. To refresh, mix together a cup
of water and a cup of flour. Stir your original starter, since it probably has
accumulated a layer of alcohol on the top. Take a couple of tablespoons of this original
starter and blend it into the flour/water mixture you made. Cover the mixture, and let it
work all day. (Consign the original starter to the "gone and to be forgotten"
bin.) Then proceed with the following. Note: If you want to double the waffle recipe,
which we do regularly, mix together 2 cups each of water and flour, and feed it with the
same amount of starter, about 2 tablespoons.

The Sponge: Mix together the flours and sugar in a medium-sized ceramic mixing bowl. Stir
in the buttermilk. (If you're doing this at the last minute, take the chill off it; a
microwave does this nicely. Don't worry if it separates a bit.) Add 1 cup (or 2, if
you're doubling the recipe) of your refreshed sourdough starter and cover loosely with
plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature overnight, or for whatever shorter time span is

Feeding Your "New" Starter: While the sponge is resting, feed your
"new" starter. Do this the same way you fed your original starter. Take 2
tablespoons of the "refreshed starter" you made initially (before starting the
sponge), and combine it with a cup of water and a cup of flour. Discard the remaining
"refreshed starter."

Note: You might substitute a couple of tablespoons of pumpernickel for the same of wheat
flour. Pumpernickel contains minerals that make sourdough organisms happy plus it adds a
nice fleck to your subsequent batter or dough. Also, if I'm refreshing a starter by
adding a cup of water and a cup of flour, I usually add an extra ounce of flour. This
makes it a bit thicker and heartier. Sourdough starter tends to thin out as the organisms
feed. (But only people who chronically neglect their starters would know that.) Let this
new starter rest at room temperature for 12 hours, then refrigerate it for future use.

The Waffle Batter: Beat together the eggs, butter or oil, salt and baking soda until
light. Blend this mixture into the sponge, and see dramatic chemistry begin to happen.

Spray your waffle iron with a bit of vegetable oil pan spray. (This is probably necessary
only for the first waffle.) Pour 1/2 to 1 cup batter onto the iron, depending on its
size, close, and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until it's as done as you like.
Remove gently with a fork.

Waffles are best eaten as they come off the iron; they don't take well to stockpiling.
This makes for serial eating, but it builds anticipation and probably contributes to
general squabbling about who deserves the next one. Ultimately all will be satiated,
blood sugar will return to normal, and you and your starter can rest until once again the
waffle pixie gives you a poke.

FYI, sourdough waffles are extraordinarily light, and their flavor has an edge (because
of the period of fermentation) that puts them in another category from the more usual
baking powder version. Traditionally they're served with butter and maple syrup, but
their unique flavor combines well with things savory as well.

Tip: Need some sourdough starter to get started? See our step-by-step directions for
creating your own sourdough starter from scratch. Or, if you’re looking for a head-start,
check out our classic fresh sourdough starter, a simpler path to fresh, ready-to-use
sourdough starter.

Nutrition information per serving (1/12 of recipe, 1 waffle with 1/4 cup rhubarb sauce,
149g): 226 cal, 5g fat, 6g protein, 23g complex carbohydrates, 16g sugar, 2g dietary
fiber, 47mg cholesterol, 297mg sodium, 266mg potassium, 58RE vitamin A, 3mg vitamin C,
1mg iron, 93mg calcium, 106mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XI, No. 4, Spring 2000 issue.