To Belgian Waffle

I have a history of preferring turkey sandwiches and cold pasta for breakfast.  Savory reigns in the morning.  And I lived a number of years quite content with this, until one day I came face to face with a certain waffle. 

The Belgian.

The kind of waffle which wears a crisp outer jacket covering its delicate, chewy insides.  Possessing crunchy burnt caramel pockets.  And tasting ever so slightly of pretzel.

It borrows the satisfying crack of a crème brûlée and the chew from a fresh yeast roll.  All the while never forgetting it’s a waffle.  And reminding that Belgians don’t have to be slapped with whipped cream to be fun.

I’ve started to refer to the action of cooking them as “to waffle.”  To Belgian waffle.  As it ensures both breakfast and merriment occur.

To waffle an actual waffler is needed.  And some yeast.  And pearl sugar, which can be a bit persnickety to procure.  Plus the restraint to wait overnight.

But to waffle is worth it.  And the goods needed to do so can be ordered online.  Breakfast will be filled with flour and joy and debatably unnecessary verbiage forevermore. 

The Belgian Waffle
Adapted from Sweet Amandine by way of Formaggio Kitchen


2 cups bread flour, divided
1 tsp instant dry yeast
¼ cup whole milk, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dark brown sugar
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup pearl sugar


The night before:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2/3 cup of bread flour and the yeast.  In a separate small bowl, mix together the milk, egg, and 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lukewarm water; add to the yeast mixture and stir to moisten.  Sprinkle the remaining 1-1/3 cups of bread flour over the top, but do not mix it in.  Cover and let sit for 60 to 90 minutes, until the batter just starts to bubble up at the edges of the bowl.

To the batter, add in the brown sugar and salt and (with the paddle attachment) mix on low until just combined.  With the machine on low, add in the honey and vanilla, and then the butter 2 tbsp at a time. When the butter is incorporated and the mixture has come together, switch to a dough hook and mix on medium-low, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally.  This will take 4 or 5 minutes.  It is done when the dough stretches, rather than breaks.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

The day of:

About 2 to 3 hours before you want to eat waffles, take out the dough.  Let it rest a few minutes, until it becomes just a little pliable; then use your hands to mix in the pearl sugar. Separate the dough into 6 equal pieces and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise.  (The directions say this takes 1-1/2 hours, but I’ve found it takes closer to 2 to 2-1/2 hours in my house.  It might be a little colder here.  To speed up the process, place the sheet on top of a warm stove.) 

When the dough is puffed up and soft and pillowy (see here), you are ready.  Heat a stovetop waffle iron (aka the waffler), greased lightly with canola oil, on medium low for a few minutes (about 3) and then flip it and heat the other side for another minute or 2 more.  (Have a regular iron?  See here.)  Add one dough ball to the center of the iron, close the iron, and cook for about a minute. 

Take a peak inside, the waffle should have started to brown and should not stick to the iron.  Flip the iron and continue to cook until the waffle is sufficiently golden and crispy.  (Flip the pan again, if the other side needs more color.)  If the waffles are browning too quickly, turn down the heat.  The entire process should only take a few minutes.

Repeat with remaining dough balls.  (You can keep the cooked waffles warm in a 200-degree oven until all are finished.)

Makes 6 waffles

-If you are in the market for a waffler, they are much cheaper on Amazon.

-I’ve successfully made this recipe with active dry yeast, too.  You’ll need 1-1/3 tsp and you’ll have to bloom the yeast about 10 minutes in whole milk (same amount as listed) that has been heated to about 100 degrees.  In this case, you’ll mix the bloomed yeast with the water and egg mixture before adding it to the 2/3 cup of flour.

-You can freeze the waffles whole and warm them again in an oven, though admittedly they lose some of their chewiness the second time around.

- I like these guys with a little butter and maple syrup (though they don’t really need it).  I’ve also enjoyed them with a thick, heavily reduced apple cider. Bacon would likely be a welcome addition here too.

-Weight equivalents are available here.


Cranberry Spice Muffins. Also, I am a Boring Human.

There is something about initiating a discussion on muffins that makes me feel like the world's least interesting human. 

It probably doesn't help that I'm currently wearing a bathrobe and a t-shirt that says "Thomas Jefferson Still Lives" under that.  And that I'm drinking club soda.  And that I'm writing this on a Friday night.

But please don't let my lameness stop you.  This is a fine pastry specimen.  In fact, I referred to the batch I baked around Christmas as holiday stud-muffins. 

This probably does not help my cause much.  But hopefully it does something for the muffins.

The recipe is inspired by a blueberry spelt version in Nigel Slater's Ripe.  It's a wonderful base to use throughout the year and takes kindly to whatever berry-of-the-moment the season is hosting. And this is one of my favorite incarnations. So despite being past its seasonal prime, I deemed it worthy enough to risk a passé label.

It has the tender quality of a muffin masquerading as a biscuit and hints ever so slightly of eggnog.  The cranberries swing with the spices and offer up pleasing tart pockets.  Things might even teeter on the side of savory, if there wasn't a sprinkling of demerara over their tops. 

But the crunch from the sugar is a must.  If it were up to me, I'd make a demerara scattering mandatory across most baked goods.  They also freeze brilliantly.  Which means they can pretty much go wherever, whenever.

They are a real renaissance muffin.

Jefferson lives!

Cranberry Spice Muffins
Adapted from Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard by Nigel Slater


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
heaping ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ to ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg (see note)
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup butter, softened
scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
1¼ cups cranberries (fresh or frozen whole)
a few spoonfuls demerara sugar
few spoonfuls rolled oats


Set the oven to 375 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with liners.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

In the bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy, scraping down the sides occasionally (the mixture will want to cling to the side of the bowl, especially if you use the paddle attachment).  With the mixer running, slowly add the eggs one at a time; add in the vanilla and yogurt.

Add the sifted flour mixture in three or four swift additions with the mixer running (the flour does not have to be fully incorporated; you don't want to over-mix the batter).  Stop the mixer and fold in the berries.  Spoon the batter into the prepared cups (it will be very thick).  Scatter the tops with ½ to 1 tsp demerara per muffin and sprinkle on some oats.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin.  Let the muffins cool briefly in the pan and then place on a rack to fully cool.

Makes one dozen muffins

-I used sheep's yogurt, because I love it.  Any yogurt will do, but I prefer whole because it adds a little richness and the recipe does not use a lot of fat overall.

-I eyeballed the nutmeg measurement (I ground it for 10 seconds with a microplane).  This yielded a faint but tangible presence. Use your judgment and do more or less depending on your relationship with the spice.

-You can substitute the whole wheat pastry flour for another whole grain, like whole wheat or spelt.  The pastry flour will yield a lighter crumb, but I've also used other less delicate types with satisfying results. 


A Maple Bourbon Sour, We Begin Again

Hello to you from 2014.  December has come to a smashing halt.  And we have a lot to talk about. 

We have Belgian waffles and a Buddhist-inspired dumpling soup to make.  Plus room-silencing butterscotch pots de crème and a whole host of recipes that have yet to be discovered.  Who knows what other bits 2014 will bring. 

I had wanted to talk about cranberry-spiced muffins today.  I had wanted to suggest if you squirreled away holiday berries you can repurpose them for a very fine breakfast.  But since I ended 2013 like this, a recipe on leftover frugality seemed a little lacking in the festive department.

So I have frothy booze and a coupe glass for you instead.   

I made a pair of these Sunday night to christen a dinner party Dave and I were about to prepare.  Dave went on to make a regal lamb roast and clam spaghetti, and some very wonderful melty Italian broccoli.  I served up some homemade quince marmalade and spelt sourdough as cheese companions, plus the aforementioned pots de crème. 

The drinks were the first of many delicious things.  So I thought it only fitting to feature them today.  On day one.

This is an adaption of a recipe from Molly and Brandon, courtesy of Food52’s craft cocktail column.  No matter what goes down in 2014, it’s comforting knowing these two are around to sling drink suggestions.  

This one happens to involve raw egg whites, which sometimes scares people.  All I can say is I lived to see 2014 and—if you are reading this you probably did too—so perhaps it’s time to take a walk on the wild side.

The cocktail is easy to make and easy to love.  It is also easy to transform from brandy to whiskey-based, if your bar has a Pisco deficit.  Whatever bitters you have will add additional drink flare; I enjoy Peychaud’s.  If you have lemon and an egg, plus something distilled from grapes or grain and some sweet tree sap, you’re pretty much there.

It’s a silky cocktail, balanced by citrus and maple.  The top turns bright white on you, once shaken and poured.  You’ll then want to lightly pepper it with drops of Peychaud’s and swirl them with a toothpick.  It helps if you have a dropper, but just wing it with a steady hand if you don’t. (As you can see, mine went rogue.) Either way you can’t really go wrong. 

A baptism in bourbon may be just the thing this year.

Maple Bourbon Sour
Adapted from the Maple Pisco Sour at Essex


1¾ ounces of bourbon
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce maple syrup, preferably grade B
1 egg white
8 drops Peychaud’s bitters


In a cocktail shaker, place the bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup, and egg white and dry shake it (meaning without ice) for about 20 to 30 seconds.  Add ice and shake for another 30 seconds. 

Strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with the drops of bitters and swirl with a toothpick.

Makes 1 cocktail

-The original recipe also notes you can try shaking with ice (avoiding a dry shake altogether) for as long as your hands can take the cold.

-Though I didn’t do this, you could try it with liquid egg whites.  It’s about 2 tbsp egg white per cocktail.