After working out my biscuit recipe, waffles were the next item on my brunch menu agenda. Because we had already purchased a Belgian-style waffle maker—one with deep impressions for making thick, pleasantly crisp waffles—I decided to shoot for a Belgian-style recipe.
Belgian waffle batters generally utilize yeast for leavening. As a result, Belgian waffles tend to have a slightly yeasty flavor. I liked the idea of yeast bringing a complex flavor to the waffles. Just the same, I had no interest in a batter that would have to be made several hours or even a day in advance in order to develop the proper rise, texture, and flavor.
I wanted a waffle batter that could be whipped together, wet parts mixed into dry, in a few minutes. For that, I turned to American-style batters, leavened with baking soda and/or powder, rather than yeast. Though these batters were indeed faster to produce, the resulting waffles were slightly heavier, with a more one-dimensional, generally sweeter flavor than the Belgian varieties I'd tried.
In order to recreate the heady depth of flavor imparted by the yeast, I tried adding various ingredients to the batter, including malt powder, but none were quite right.
Then I added beer, and all was right with the world.
Genesee Cream Ale, the mildest and most neutral beer we have on tap, which also happens to hail from Tyler's and my Western New York homeland, imparted just the right amount of yeasty goodness and complexity, without overwhelming the sweet, subtly buttery flavor of the waffles.
- Yield:about 1 quart of batter, enough for about 6 waffles with a standard Belgian press
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (270g)
- 1 teaspoon salt (7g)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder (19g)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda (6g)
- 2 tablespoons sugar (26g)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (70g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (~8g)
- 3/4 cup milk (168g)
- 1 cup beer (220g; a mild, neutral ale or lager works well)
- 2 large eggs
Whisk together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl to evenly distribute.
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Add milk and beer and continue to heat until mixture is warm.
Whisk vanilla extract into eggs. Slowly pour warm beer mixture into eggs, whisking constantly.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Slowly pour beer-egg mixture into the well, whisking at the center of the well, gradually widening the diameter of your stroke until all dry ingredients have been incorporated. Continue to mix until only a very few lumps remain.
Pour into a pre-heated, lightly greased waffle iron (the recipe was developed for use in a Belgian iron, but should work nicely in other types as well). Cook to desired doneness, and serve immediately.