for better or for worse, i seem to have a penchant for innovation, by which i mean, making things difficult for myself. take these crispy waffles for example: i didn’t want to use standard waffles ingredients, such as buttermilk (because seriously, when have you ever had this in your fridge when you needed it?!), or standard techniques, like folding in whipped egg whites (because dragging out the mixer for breakfast is just too much sometimes).
with those requirements somewhat arbitrarily but very firmly in place, i set about trying to find my perfect crispy lazy waffle recipe. aaaaand ate a bunch of really mediocre waffles in the process. fortunately, i also learned some things (and realistically, how bad could a food dipped in maple syrup actually be??).
one of the things i learned, first from cook’s illustrated but then borne out in my own trials, was the waffles made with oil are better than waffles made with butter. it sounds like crazy talk, until we consider that butter contains water while oil does not, and water makes for squidgy waffle insides. i even tried browning butter for one round of testing, as that would reduce the moisture content, but those waffles weren’t as good as the (much easier) oil version.
another thing that i learned was that the waffle iron you’re using matters, as does the temperature you have it set at. much in the way that i am slowly becoming convinced that nothing good will ever come out of my slow cooker, if you have a really poorly designed waffle machine, your waffles are going to suffer. i generally like my machine (this one, using these removable (washable!) waffle plates) because it’s so easy to clean but did notice that there is one spot where the waffles don’t tend to get as golden and crispy each time.
as for temperature, i was fortunate to be able to chat with a professional chef as i was developing this recipe and was lamenting that all of my waffle insides thus far had been soggy. he suggested turning down the heat a bit, so that the insides could cook all the way through before the outsides darkened too much. this simple step definitely improved the end result.
finally, i didn’t mention it before but there was one requirement that i ultimately had to let go of. i really wanted to make blueberry waffles but, alas, even once i developed a recipe that worked well for plain waffles, it just didn’t translate to amazing blueberry waffles. the added moisture (even using small wild blueberries!) prevented the waffles from ever crisping up. in the end, i decided i would rather top plain, crispy waffles with blueberries than eat blueberry filled sponges. the silver lining, of course, is that then you can use any fruit you want without having to worry how it might impact the recipe and final product.
and in the end, that was really all i wanted: delicious waffles without a lot of fuss over equipment or ingredients that are so. far. away. (aka at the grocery store, not in your refrigerator). and now, if you’ll excuse me, i have a waffle iron to go clean…