It's always a good time for waffles
Food writer Holly Ebel says waffles come in all shapes and sizes, and are more than just that Belgian base for fruit and whipped cream.
Waffles are a treat whenever you have them whether for a leisurely breakfast, brunch, or grabbing a quick toasted Eggo as you race to school or to work.
In recent years they've also shown up for dinner, both as breakfast for dinner and in other combinations.
One might think of waffles as merely pancakes cooked in a fancy contraption. After all, both are made with similar batters, one cooked on a hot griddle, the other in a hot waffle iron. But that's where the similarity stops.
Waffle batter has more fat, which helps them turn out crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside as opposed to a softer pancake.
Butter and maple syrup are the favored toppings to fill the little waffle pockets, but anything goes: jams, fruits, yogurt, applesauce ... it's up to you. To add a little extra flavor to the batter try adding a teaspoon of lemon zest or a sprinkle or two of cocoa powder.
Waffles have been around for a long time with pretty much the same ingredients — flour, eggs, milk, sugar — but actually they can be traced back to at least ancient Greece, and maybe even before that. The Pilgrims brought them to this country after being introduced to them in Holland on their way to Massachusetts. They were also a popular street food in the 1700s.
Thomas Jefferson, ever the gourmand, brought a stove-top waffle iron home from France which sparked a fad for waffle parties. Then, some hundred years later, Cornelius Swarthout received a patent for a waffle iron on Aug. 24, 1869, a date still celebrated as National Waffle Day. Mark your calendars.
Though they are easy to make at home, I figured they would be a hot-selling item at local spots known for breakfast and brunch. Not so fast, folks. I was surprised that several popular breakfast spots — I won't name names — stick with pancakes.
However, some local restaurants make waffles a specialty, so I explored.
Five West , (1991 Commerce Drive NW) a popular spot for brunch, offers a s'more waffle topped with marshmallow fluff, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and graham cracker sprinkles. Dessert for breakfast? They also have the more simple, unadorned versions, and they're good, all made individually from scratch. There's more. On both the lunch and dinner menus is a waffle topped with maple bourbon glazed chicken tenders, the kitchen's take on the waffle and fried chicken dish, so popular in the south.
Hollandberry Pannekoeken (214 N. Broadway) is known for their Dutch pancakes but their waffles are also a big seller, especially the fresh fruit waffle. You can also order it with just butter and syrup but the one with fruit was excellent. Grandma's Kitchen (1514 N. Broadway) has been a Rochester landmark for decades, and I couldn't imagine they wouldn't have waffles. Of course they did. A spokesperson emphasized they are all made from scratch, but interestingly they sell the most on the weekends when families come in. "The youngsters are the ones that can't get enough of the waffles, we have to really hustle to keep up."
While we tend to think of them as a way to indulge in butter and syrup, recently waffles have taken on additional ingredients and forms. As a breakfast sandwich with bacon, cheese and eggs, they are a new take on an old favorite. Desserts too with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
One of the more popular waffles is the Belgian waffle, introduced at an Expo in Seattle in 1958. They were an immediate hit, larger in size and with deeper pockets than the typical waffle. Because of that they require a different waffle iron. The good news, however, is that they are made with a yeast batter, which can be made the night before, avoiding the hassle of making batter the next morning.
The waffle influence is even in ice cream shops. Waffle or sugar cone? Most choose the waffle cone, which debuted at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Then there is the Stroopwafel, a Dutch import that looks like a mini-waffle. It is a very thin cookie with a caramelly filling. Put it on top of a cup of coffee or tea and let the inside warm up. A delicious sweet side to a hot beverage. Frankly, in spite of all the options, I'll take my waffle with syrup and butter on a lazy weekend morning.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 cups whole milk, slightly warmed
1/3 cup vegetable shortening, melted
1/3 cup butter, melted
Put flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk the mixture until blended. In another bowl beat the eggs well and stir in the milk. Combine with the flour mixture until mixed, then add the melted shortening and butter and mix until blended. Pour about 1/2 cup batter into a very hot waffle iron and bake until golden and crisp. Serve hot. Makes about 8 waffles.
1/2 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Use a large mixing bowl because the batter will double in size. Put water in the mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let stand to dissolve, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour to the yeast mixture and beat until smooth and blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature. Just before cooking the waffles beat in the eggs, add the baking soda and stir until well mixed. The batter will be very thin. Pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter into a very hot waffle iron. Bake until they are golden and crisp. This batter keeps for several days in the refrigerator.
Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to email@example.com .