Welcome to the Part I of the Waffle Bake Off series, in which we search for the best ever yeast waffle recipe (which, coincidentally, science says are the best kind).
Although my sweet breakfast item of choice is typically–you guessed it–pancakes, I do love waffles. I have many fond childhood memories of eating toasted Eggo waffles–we’d eat them either drizzled with syrup or chopped into small squares and eaten with milk like cereal (did anyone else do this)?
However, I’ve never quite found my ideal homemade waffle–I like my waffles a little sweet (like syrup-optional sweet), but texture is usually the main issue. Homemade waffles can often turn out a little soggy and listless; I went into this bake off looking for something more akin to diner-style waffles that stay crisp and firm with a toothsome bite (i.e. not overly airy) and an interior that can be custardy, but not spongy.
Most recipes required an overnight rest, save for two; I prepped all 7 of the batters the night before, and made Chef Steps and Byron Talbott’s recipes the morning of. Each waffle was made fresh in a Belgian waffle maker and tasted immediately afterwards. I had a purposefully smaller group of tasters this time (similar to when we were finding the best pancakes), with just 11 friends helping to taste and rank each waffle. Each taster was allowed to taste the waffles either plain or with syrup (as long as they were consistent throughout the tasting) and ranked each waffle on a scale from 1-10 for flavor, and 1-10 for texture.
How was your Valentine’s Day? My roommate and I threw our third annual Galentine’s party–i.e. waffle bar + fondue extravaganza with a white elephant gift exchange (I got and am so excited to read this) and then I spent my actual V-day holed up in my room working on a bunch of finals projects and cleaning the heck out of my room. It was actually relaxing a day of much-needed recharging and was pretty great. Oh, and then I read this and spent 20 minutes reading all the cute stories people left in the comments and just *heartsplosion*
In other news, it turns out I am NOT allergic to dairy! I got tested over winter break and though we don’t know the real reason why I kept getting rashes on my fingers after eating dairy, we suspect that it is due to eczema flareups on my fingers that is inflamed by eating dairy. Anyway, back when I thought I was allergic to dairy, I tried out this Sunwarrior protein powder and kind of loved it.
It’s soy-free, raw, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, but the vanilla flavor is totally delicious (I’d never guess it wasn’t your standard whey-based powder) and it’s not chalky at all. I only pretty much use protein powder in a few things: smoothies and occasionally in pancakes or my all-time favorite single-serving cinnamon roll. Although protein powder can occasionally turn pancakes dry and sad, this pancake is totally fluffy and just moist enough (particularly if you smother it in additional syrup, nut butter, banana, chopped chocolate and a power seed mixture).
The ingredient list may look longish, but the recipe is really easy to throw together and most ingredients are just a dash of this and that, which you can leave out as needed. If you make try it out, tag me on instagram and tell me how you like it!
In other unsurprising news, I’m still obsessed with aquafaba (the miracle chickpea brine egg replacer). It’s just so great when you need to add a bit more heft or volume to a recipe, or when you want to halve a recipe without doing egg division.
Real life discussion: I spent last last weekend in NYC visiting friends and WOW was it a different experience from the last time I visited. It was kind of like returning home from college and having those weird jolts of realization that you are a different person than when you left based on frames of reference like the size of your bed, the height of the kitchen counter. Yes this happened even though I’ve only been to NYC a grand total of maybe 5 times.
The last time I visited, I was nearly a year out of college and pondering making the move to a more metropolitan city that wasn’t Houston; after visiting, I was positive I didn’t need to live there. This time, I left with a distinct sense of loss–so many of my friends are making great strides that busy city and it’s really inspiring. Plus, the food. HEART EYE EMOJI FOREVER.
Some places I visited:
- Franchia: vegan Korean restaurant. I tried their $16 bento box for lunch with fried eggplant, a vegetarian dumpling and egg roll, salad and brown rice. The faux shrimp was interesting, but the overall taste was just okay.
- Dough: lemon poppyseed doughnut. Cynthia took me here, so of course her taste proved flawless–LOVED this super fluffy yet slightly dense doughnut. Hate to say it, but outdid all the doughnuts I tried in Portland.
- Maison Kayser: pistachio madeleines, choquettes and raspberry financier. Had to try this after my obsession with Eric Kayser in Paris; didn’t quite live up to the Paris locations, but still solid. The choquettes were my favorite!
- Tiny Empire: Goji berry, coconut, almond butter and banana smoothie. Fantastic!
- Clinton Street Baking Co: blueberry pancakes and scone. I’d heard about the cult following behind this place’s pancakes for years (and tried making Izy’s version at home). I fell in love with the scones, but the pancakes–while delicious–weren’t quite my ultimate pancake. Still, everything was very well executed and I would definitely go back (probably for dinner since you can still order breakfast foods and the wait time is reportedly much less crazy. We waited 2+ hours.)
- Dominique Ansel: kouign amann and chocolate chip cookie. Kouign amann was fantastic; cookie was below average. Apparently you can order cronuts ahead of time now and skip the line when you pick them up! Noted for next time.
- The Original Yonah Schimmel Knishery: spinach knish. We stumbled on this place by accident while wandering around waiting for our Clinton Street Baking Co. text and fell in love with these knishes. Those steaming bundles of warm potato are so so perfect for cool weather eating!
- Mermaid Inn: brussels sprouts + drinks. SUCH AN ADORABLE, dimly lit restaurant. Great happy hour drinks and $1 oysters. They give you really addictive seedy crackers and butter as well as complimentary chocolate pudding and fortune teller fish. Loved this place; would go back in a heartbeat.
- Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream: mini scone and peanut butter granola cookie. Unfortunately I didn’t try any of their vegan ice creams which sounded amazing, but definitely noted for next time! Baked goods were solid.
Now that you’re hungry for all these places that are probably miles and miles away, let’s talk waffles. These have a really grainy, hearty texture that I loved–the edges are crispy, and the insides are dense and sweet. They really don’t need syrup; I also really enjoyed these with nut butter and thin slices of banana.
Since we last spoke, I’ve somehow reached the end of my first year of business school (marking the halfway point!!), secured a summer internship in market research, watched my sister win division 3 ultimate nationals with her team, and consumed divine cupcakes with Nora in Chicago.
Hanging out with Nora felt kind of like seeing a childhood friend you hadn’t seen in years and picking up right where you left off. That is to say, it felt like an instant connection, at least on my end. We’ve emailed and talked over the phone (#mbabonding), and finally got to meet in Chicago, when I had all day Friday to explore the city solo before watching my sister’s Ultimate tournament. I will be forever grateful to her for spending a good couple hours with me eating, walking, and ‘gramming like nerds (“okay, if you’re standing, I’m standing”) and talking about everything under the sun even though it was her husband’s birthday! Kind soul that she is, she also greeted me with a container of homemade, out-of-this-world cookies and doughnuts (which she promises will be posted soon) and assured me that though I’ve been vegging instead of getting back in the kitchen ever since finishing finals, the lacking-inspiration thing is okay. Decompression is a real thing, and so are kind humans. She made me feel eons better about the fact that inspiration has been lacking lately–partly out of an instinctual avoidance of the kitchen instilled over the past school year (should be studying/networking/anything but procrastinating with food!) and partly out of a sense of paralysis about this space. I keep feeling as though I need to find my niche, but the more I try to identify one, the less genuine anything feels. Which means I’m backing away slowly from that.
When you’re waking up covered in a light sheen of sweat to the deep-voiced man on the radio announcing “it’s already 80 degrees with a high of 99” your desire to turn on the oven turns to negative 20 degrees. Particularly when you are trying to keep costs down in the form of taming the resource-sucking A/C beast. Yet somehow, my desire for cake does not function in the same manner.