Why It Works
- Powdered sugar dissolves more readily, keeping the batter smooth and light.
- Egg whites provide extra water to fuel the batter's steamy rise, while omitting the yolks ensures waffles that bake up fluffy and crisp, but never cakey.
- A small portion of baking soda adds depth of flavor without neutralizing the tangy buttermilk.
These are my all-time favorite waffles, flecked with vanilla bean for a flavor that truly shines, and a hint of tangy buttermilk to boot. They're airy and crisp thanks to the leavening power of steam, not whipped eggs, so the recipe comes together fast. Just resist the temptation to replace the whites with whole eggs, which will make them more cakey and dense.
- 6 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (1 1/3 cup; 185g)
- 1 1/2 ounces powdered sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 45g)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 1/2 teaspoon (3g) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) baking powder
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (see note)
- 14 ounces cultured lowfat buttermilk (1 3/4 cup; 395g) (see note)
- 1 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (3 tablespoons; 40g)
- 2 large egg whites (about 2 1/2 ounces; 70g)
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
- Maple syrup, for serving
For the Batter: In a large bowl, combine flour, powdered sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and the scrapings of one large vanilla bean, mixing by hand until the seeds are well dispersed. Add buttermilk, melted butter, egg whites, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
For the Waffles: Set waffle iron to medium and preheat until the indicator is ready. For an 8-inch square machine, scrape in roughly half the batter. For a 7-inch Belgian machine, scrape in about one-third. Close lid and cook until waffle is golden brown but still steaming, 4 1/2 to 6 minutes depending on the depth and heat of your machine. Serve immediately, with copious amounts of maple syrup, and griddle remaining batter as before.
Whisk, flexible spatula, waffle iron
From size and depth to heat settings and materials (cast iron versus nonstick), waffle irons vary considerably from brand to brand; a small test waffle is a low-risk way to determine how the batter behaves on your machine. In place of buttermilk, this recipe can be made with a 50/50 blend of plain, nonfat yogurt and milk. You can also make this recipe without the vanilla bean, but the waffles won't be as aromatic.