Friday, November 11, 2011

Waffles For Lunch

I once had a waffle maker. It was a pretty standard, non-stick, electric affair and worked fine. Then, a pin came out of one of the hinges. I couldn't see a way to fix it, so I just kept using it like that. When we moved overseas, we had to do some pretty heavy triage, and anything broken beyond repair that wasn't used much didn't make the cut. That included the waffle maker.

The thing is, though, my kids love waffles. I'm not industrious enough to indulge their love of them very often, but it was nice to be able to make them, especially since I detest the frozen kind and refuse to buy them. Since we moved here two years ago, the only waffles we've had are at the chow hall, where the quality is on par with the ones you can get at a free breakfast in a hotel (something we've had extensive experience with, heh - the best one was the place we stayed where they had watered down the waffle batter so much it that when it cooked, it turned into strings of cooked batter - it kind of looked like spaghetti when it was done).

So, I've trolled the internet occasionally looking for one I could like. I was hoping to find one that allowed you to pull the plates out to wash (the biggest reason I rarely used our waffle iron before), and had this one in my Amazon cart for months. It's pricey, though, so I hadn't been able to talk myself into buying it.

And, there's the issue of the non-stick stuff. I'm not sure whether it's killing us all or not, as some people claim, but I hate the stuff because it doesn't last. I've gotten rid of all the pans I once had, and use a combination of stainless, glass, and cast iron. I ran across something not long ago that mentioned a cast iron waffle maker, something I didn't even realize existed.

A couple weeks ago, I finally broke down and bought a Rome waffle maker. In all honestly, I could have probably found a better made one on Ebay (old stuff is always made better!), but when I couldn't really find anything as cheap as the one I got, once I factored in the shipping costs, I just decided to get it new. I'd maybe do it differently next time, but since I don't expect this one to ever break down on me, that may never happen.

Anyway, after a not-so-enjoyable cleaning (unseasoned cast iron is shipped with a wax coating that has to come off first - it's a pain to do) and seasoning (I did it twice to be sure), we had waffles for lunch today. I had made a hasty promise to the boys that we would do so, then I looked in my Bittman cookbook and realized the yeast waffles I wanted to try needed to sit overnight. Yeah, this was at about 1000 today...

Wyatt got indignant when I tried to push it off, so I caved and used a baking powder version from the same book. Here are our results:
I'd read that sticking on the batch is common, but apparently I'd done a good enough job seasoning it beforehand because I didn't have any problems. I did brush it with butter between waffles, though, just to be sure. I didn't want it to flow out the sides because there was nowhere for it to go but underneath the burner, so I put very little batter on the pan at first. This is actually my last waffle, and the closest it got to filling the iron. Surprisingly, you can put a lot more batter on these than it looks like. The waffles are also a lot fluffier than I thought they would be considering the thickness of the iron. I sort of thought we'd end up making pancakes with depressions in them, but that was totally not the case.

I think we found a winner. Cast iron takes a little more work to take care of (and you must preheat or you are doomed!), but the results are awesome. I've heard good waffles described as "crispy, with a creaminess inside", yet this was the first time I realized what the heck that meant. And my boys? They went through the first three waffles before they let me eat one. (They are also quite excited that we can take this camping with us; for some reason, waffles on a camping trip sounds like a seriously awesome thing to them.)

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