Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Tuesday's Time To ... Bake Beautiful Waffles!

We're a family that has always enjoyed a proper, sit-down breakfast every morning.  Not for us a rushed affair of black coffee drank whilse standing at the kitchen counter!  You can't go to work and do a job like Papa Bear's each day on an empty stomach, and fortunately for him, having grown up in a home with a papa of my own who had a heavy manual job too, I learned this from my mother, so was fully prepared to provide the same sort of breakfasts for my husband that our family had enjoyed when I was a child.  Of all the meals I prepare for our family each day, I have to say that I do really love making breakfast.  It is so nice to be able to greet the day sat together at our dining table and share in this most important of meals, thanking God for the fresh new day and the food we are eating, and discussing what our days hold for us as we enjoy our meal.

I like to try to vary what we eat for breakfast according to what is seasonal and cheap, but some regulars continue to make appearances all year round.  Home made granola is popular, as is baked oatmeal (not the regular sort, but baked with fruit and other goodies so that it is almost like, as the recipe describes, a warm cookie!  But much better for you).  We also enjoy smoothies and French toast.  But if I had to ask the cubs what their favourite breakfast was, I know that they would both answer the same - it hasn't ever changed!  They adore my home baked waffles!

I've been making waffles for a long time - much longer than they have been popular as a breakfast (or even dessert) option here in England where we live.  Although they've been a staple for generations across the sea in America, in England, until very recently waffles weren't considered a traditional breakfast option.  It was quite difficult to find a waffle iron when I first decided, many years ago now, that I wanted to try making some.  We had to wait quite a long time before we found one in a store about 30 miles from where we live.  It is an electric waffle iron that makes one large waffle that is divided into 6 heart shaped sections - they look so cute broken into hearts, but like a pretty flower when left whole.

Over the years I have tried many different waffle recipes.  I have found that the best sort of recipe is a little lighter than pancake batter, which is what I often see suggested in English recipe books (especially the older ones).  Waffle batter needs to be slightly different in texture from pancake batter as a waffle is generally much thicker than a pancake (or at least, a regular pancake.  Thicker pancakes we call "Scotch pancakes" or "griddle cakes" and they are much smaller than the regular, more crepe style one that is associated with Shrove Tuesday).  I could go on about the regional variations but I won't or we will be here all day!  In the North East of England, where Papa Bear and I both grew up, we use to enjoy a different sort of pancake yet again called a "singin' hinnie" - I shall share about them, another time!

The waffle recipe that I have found to be most successful is this one,  which is (as always) a Taste of Home recipe.  I follow this to the letter and get perfect waffles every single time.  They are crisp on the outside and fluffy within, and they never stick to the waffle iron!

To serve 4 (though I'll admit in our house I have to double this as there is no way it would serve my menfolk and leave anything for us ladies!).

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I use self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk (I use semi-skimmed)
1/4 cup butter or marg, melted

1.  In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. 

2. Combine the egg yolks, milk and butter, then stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened (I use a fork to do this stage).

3.  In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gently fold into the batter.

4.  Bake in a pre-heated waffle iron as per directions.  In our waffle iron exactly 1/2 cup covers the iron completely.  I do oil my iron before use, and may need to replenish this as I go.  Each waffle takes about 2 minutes to bake.  This recipe made as stated will yeild about 5 waffles in our waffle iron.

What to have with your waffles?  Well we often have them with fresh fruit.  The cubs use to love it if I set out a choice of toppings such as sprinkles, nuts, syrup and even whipped cream, but nowadays their tastes are a little more sophistiated!  Little Bear loves them served as Shrove Tuesday pancakes are traditionally served - with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar!  I sometimes make a fruit sauce with blueberries, cherries or strawberries however.  It's easily done - I simply put the washed fruit in a saucepan with a little water and about a tablespoon of sugar, and add some cornflour (cornstarch) to thicken.  This is all brought to the boil then simmered for a couple of minutes - that's all!

Although it might seem quite time consuming to make waffles for breakfast, in fact it isn't really all that much trouble.  I get most of the ingredients ready before we go to bed so that the next morning all I have to do is combine the liquid ingredients with the dry, beat the egg whites and then bake the waffles.  But you could pre-bake the waffles too - they freeze quite well.  If you want to freeze them, then bake and cool on a wire rack, then freeze on a heavy baking sheet.  Once frozen they can be individually wrapped and stored in freezer bags to take up less space.  When needed they can be baked from frozen in an oven or in a toaster on the defrost setting.  They are most delicious though, my family tell me, baked freshly!  I hope you and your family enjoy them too!