What America needs now is healing — and waffles.
Waffles are indubitably among the top comfort foods, alongside ice cream, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, fried chicken and anything with noodles. I’m also a champion of the therapeutic benefits of cheese enchiladas with a side of cheesy refried beans, but today is all about the wide, wonderful world of waffles. I’ve systematically eaten my way through many, many recipes to bring you this article. I discovered that no matter how many waffles one eats, the next waffle tastes just as good.
The basic waffle recipe that I use is from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 1989 edition. I like this version because it calls for whipping the egg whites into a fluffy froth before adding to the batter. The resulting waffles are airy, soft and wonderfully absorbent, ready to drink up your favorite toppings.
The recipes that follow aren’t especially unusual. They’re all sweet and easy because that’s what our country needs right now. They’re a gentle reminder of the humble waffle’s incredible versatility, a blank canvas on which we can write our wildest waffle fantasies. (Waftasies? Fantaffles?) Waffles invite invention. They cry out for creativity. Heed their siren call, cooks of Clark County, and create your own waffle masterpieces.
Basic Waffle Recipe
Combine 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour with 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, according to your taste. Separate two egg yolks from the whites, beat the yolks slightly and then beat in 1 3/4 cups milk and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture, stirring just to incorporate. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold egg whites into waffle mix and stir until just barely combined. There should still be little fluffs of egg white clearly visible.
Serve with whatever toppings make your socks go up and down: whipped cream, honey, syrup, butter, apple or pumpkin butter, applesauce, bananas, berries, jam, pecans, bacon crumbles or a scoop of ice cream and chocolate syrup. Put all the toppings out at once and call it a waffle bar, and then let everyone make custom waffle creations.
Have a Southern-style brunch and put a buttermilk-soaked piece of hot fried chicken right on your waffle. For the grown-ups, mix maple syrup with bourbon and call it a day. (Put it on your waffle, or directly in your mouth.) Serve waffles for Thanksgiving and waffles for Christmas and all the days between. America, our greatest waffles are still ahead of us. Let’s get waffling.
Reduce flour to 1 1/2 cups and add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder to the flour mixture along with 1/3 cup sugar. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla to the egg yolks. These have a slightly crisp outside that may need extra coaxing to separate from the iron. Serve with whipped cream, raspberries, chocolate chips, coconut flakes or banana slices. Basically, things that taste good with chocolate. So, everything.
Apple Cinnamon Waffles
Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the flour mixture; then add 1 cup of peeled and very finely chopped apples to the flour mixture before adding the egg whites. These are extra scrumptious topped with thinly sliced fresh apples, syrup and apple butter.
Add 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg to the flour mixture, reduce milk to 1 1/2 cups and add 2/3 cups mashed ripe bananas to egg yolk mixture. Remove carefully; sometimes the bananas can stick.
Jam Swirl Waffles
Very gently fold in 1/4 cup jam in the batter, not combining but swirling a few times until streaks form. I serve these with whipped cream and extra jam.
The last meal our family ate in a restaurant before the pandemic was gingerbread waffles at the Lazy Susan Cafe in Cannon Beach, Ore. This restaurant’s gingerbread waffles are a sublime seasonal specialty: a hint of crispness and chewiness on the outside, soft and fluffy inside, drizzled with a sweet-tart lemon sauce and perfectly ripe pear slices. I tried to recreate them in my kitchen last week. Well, I didn’t, but I did make this pretty good recipe from Better Homes and Gardens 1930 cook book which nails the flavors, although it can’t match the Lazy Susan’s faultless texture.
Beat 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup butter. Add 1 egg and 1/2 cup molasses and beat until combined. Sift together 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground ginger or fresh ginger paste, 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon cloves. Add to sugar mixture and beat until smooth, then incorporate 1/2 cup hot (but not boiling) water.
These waffles are a bit like waffle-shaped gingerbread cakes and can be a bit crumbly. They must be removed carefully; prepping the waffle iron with a light spray of vegetable oil helps. They are best if eaten within moments, still steaming from the hot iron. Try them topped with lemon curd, fresh whipped cream or chunky cinnamon apple sauce.