My wife went with one of her friends to pick blueberries on Saturday. She came home with five delicious pounds. After many agonizing nanoseconds of inner reflection, we came to the grueling decision to have blueberry waffles Sunday morning.
Waffles can be kind of tricky if you haven’t made them before. Below I list some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned while making blueberry waffles so they come out right every time.
Know your waffle iron. We use an inexpensive stove-top waffle iron for a number of reasons. First, it fits in the cabinet for the rest of the time it’s not in use. Second, it’s easy to clean because there are no electrical parts and third, it has a non-stick surface. Yes, you could go traditional and use a cast iron griddle, but when you’re making your own waffles on Sunday morning, it should be fun – not a chore. So non-stick it is. There are a lot of inexpensive electric waffle irons that are often given as wedding or house-warming gifts, but if you want durability and usefulness on both gas and electric stoves, why not go with something more flexible? Hence, the simple belgian waffle iron. If you already have an electric waffle iron that you are ready to defend, I grant you it’s probably a high-end professional model. That’s great too! So long as you know the limits of your waffle iron, you’re good to go.
- 3/4 cup
- sorghum flour
- 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup
- glutinous rice flour
- 3/8 cup
- 2 tbsp
- baking powder
- 1/4 tsp
- sea salt
- 1/2 cup
- 3/4 cup
- Rice Milk (or regular milk, or almond milk, or buttermilk, etc.)
- 1 cup
- 1/3 cup
- butter or smart balance
- eggs – separated into whites and yolks
- 2 tbsp
- 1/2 tsp
- almond flavoring
- whipped cream (optional)
- maple syrup (optional)
- Heat the pecans in a small metal frying pan 1 on medium heat until they have toasted to your preference. You’ll need to flip them continually so they don’t burn. The window of actual toasting time is narrow, though it may take some time to get there. Hence, this is task will likely require the beginner’s full attention. Don’t answer the phone or watch TV. Use a spatula if you’re not yet able to flip them with just the pan. When they’re done, immediately transfer them to a plate to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Set aside 1/4 of a cup of the sugar to be used later.
- Transfer all other dry ingredients (including the leftover 1/8 cup of sugar) to a large mixing bowl and whisk them together so they are thoroughly mixed.
- Mash the butter into the flour mixture. You could use a potato masher, but I find the best way to make sure it gets thoroughly mixed is to use clean hands and just massage the butter into the flour. When you’re done, you should be able to take a handful of the flour mixture and compress it in your hand so that it holds its shape in your hand, but then easily crumbles when you loosen it up again back into the bowl.
- Once your flour mixture is prepared, it’s time to start heating the waffle iron. I coat mine with a spray oil even though it’s non-stick. I put it on high for the first minute and then decrease the heat down to medium. As I’m working on the rest of the preparation, I constantly turn the waffle-griddle every minute or so to make sure it gets even heating as it warms up. My griddle comes with a temperature gauge on both sides that allows me to see when it’s in the cooking range. By the time I’ve got the rest of the ingredients together, the griddle is usually ready for the first waffle. If it heats up too quickly, just set the waffle iron aside, turn down the heat and wait until you can watch it.
- Chop up your pecans so they are small bits. Don’t let them get too small or crumbly. We want them for texture as much as flavor.
- In another large mixing bowl 2, whisk together all 5 egg-whites and the 1/4 cup of sugar you set aside. These must be whisked into into stiff peaks, but not so stiff that they are about to break. You can use an electric mixer, or if you think you need the exercise, you can do it with an appropriate hand-operated pastry whisk. Everyone should try this at least once. Knock yourself out.
- Set the egg whites aside.
- To your bowl of dry ingredients 3 , add the egg yolks, milk, vanilla and almond extract, stirring with a spatula until they are reasonably-well-mixed together and no longer.
- Fold in the pecans and blueberries – again – no longer than necessary.
- Gently fold in half the egg whites until nearly mixed, then the rest of the egg whites until well mixed.
- Your waffle iron’s temperature gauge should now be almost to the cooking range. I find pouring the first waffle in while the temperature is still just below the preferred range allows for a perfect first waffle.
- Pour the waffle batter in using a ladle or large spoon. Portion some out evenly, but quickly into each square. Close the lid and flip the griddle so both sides are coated with batter.
- In about three minutes, you should be able to open the griddle a little to peak at how done it is. Turn the griddle every minute or so until it’s golden brown. Remove it and then plate it for your family. It’s best served about three minutes after it’s out of the griddle. Do not put syrup on until then, or it may come across as soggy at presentation. That’s it!
Some background thoughts
I used sorghum flour for its cakiness. It adds a fluffy pastry texture to the interior of the waffle. I added the arrowroot starch to lend crispiness to the golden-brown exterior. In the three-minute resting period after it comes out of the griddle, the water from the exterior evaporates. If you cannot find arrowroot, you can substitute with cornstarch, but the results are marginally less spectacular. I used glutinous rice flour for its ability to hold moisture without becoming too heavy. Some may think that two tablespoons of baking powder is overkill, but this comes from years of experience with this recipe at about 1000ft above sea level. There are a lot of eggs in this dish, but when you parse it out, there will be four full griddles (sixteen squares) of waffles. Portion it so that everyone gets two, and you have enough for eight people or several mornings. They freeze and retoast nicely. Why the almond and vanilla flavoring? The vanilla complements the flavor of the whipped cream and maple syrup. The almond complements the blueberries. Avoid using too much or you’ll overpower the blueberries.
Update August 15, 2010: I notice that I left out the milk component. That’s fixed. I made them again today, but I substituted frozen instead of fresh blueberries. Don’t do this. You may end up with mushy waffles that stick to the griddle. The waffle batter also turns blue the more you stir it. Freezing breaks the cell walls, causing the blueberries to leak their color. Fresh blueberries will not leak as much, so the batter stays the right color.
It wasn’t entirely disastrous, but fresh blueberries do yield the best results. If you have a choice of blueberry size, go for the smaller rabbit-eye blueberries, not the large highbush. Rabbit-eye blueberries are also tastier, higher in pH and slightly drier than highbush.
Make sure your griddle is clean and just a tick below the baking temp range or your first waffle may stick.
1. Use a metal pan that has no non-stick surface. You will have to heat the pan beyond the safe heating point for non-stick pans, causing the pan’s surface to outgas and deteriorate. The consequences are bad for your food, your pan and your health.
2. It’s best to be sure the bowl is free of any oil or oil residues, as this will hamper the egg-whites becoming light and fluffy. Room-temperature eggs work better than cold eggs. You can leave them out overnight if you decide to prepare that far ahead for more consistent results.
3. Mixing the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients is a key concept in pastry-style baking. There is a window of time during which the egg-whites will be ideal for adding to the dry ingredients. Wait too long, and they’ll start to break. Mixing pastry ingredients should happen swiftly and efficiently, but gently.