- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (just shy of 1 packet -- in fact, if you're using the packets, just use the full amount)
- 2-1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt (the smaller amount if you're using Morton's, all the way up to 2 full teaspoons if you're using Diamond Kosher salt) (and if you're using fine sea salt or table salt, start with 1/2 teaspoon and work your way up to taste)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (measured by spooning the flour into the measuring cup and leveling off with a knife -- the way you measure flour makes a big difference!)
- 3 eggs, yolks & whites separated
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- *optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla, a bit of grated lemon zest, or a few scrapings of fresh nutmeg -- I added a teaspoon of ground Tahitian vanilla bean and it was subtle and delicious; I highly recommend it! you don't want to actually flavor (overwhelm) the waffle batter; just enhance it -- the overnight fermentation gives these waffles plenty of delicious flavor of their own.
the next morning, be happy that you used a truly large bowl, as your batter will no doubt have risen right to the top, bubbling away. get your waffle iron out, butter or oil the plates and get it heating. separate the egg yolks from the whites, and stir the yolks into your batter, along with the 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and any flavoring (vanilla!, lemon zest, nutmeg, etc.) you're adding. beat the whites to firm, glossy, but not stiff peaks, and gently fold into the batter. if you think the batter's too stiff/dense/heavy to accept the egg whites easily, you have a few options: you can whisk in a bit of milk first, you can take 1/4 of the beaten egg whites and whisk those into the batter (without fussing over deflating them) to lighten it, or you can both add the bit of extra milk and whisk in 1/4 of the egg whites, all to achieve a smooth batter to which you can then easily and gently fold in the remaining beaten egg white, yielding a gloriously light batter that you just know is right.
you, my friend, are ready to waffle. heat your oven to 200 degrees F. depending on your waffle iron, scoop up the appropriate amount of batter (for example, my Presto Flipside Belgian Waffle Maker utilizes a heaping 3/4 measuring cup of this particular batter per waffle -- you don't necessarily want to fill the waffle mold; you have to allow room for the batter to rise, and this one rises a fair amount). plop the batter into the center of the hot waffle iron and spread around just a bit, then close it and set the timer. if you have a waffle iron that flips (like mine), then go ahead and flip it just for kicks. I'm not convinced it has any real effect on cooking simple waffles like these, but it can't hurt and it makes me feel fancy, so what the heck. make note of the time, and cook the waffle until the steam is almost done coming out of the waffle iron. open the iron, gently dislodge the waffle with a fork, and cut through a piece to make sure it's done all the way through. if not, pop it back in and close it up for 30 seconds or so. once it's done, make note of the total time required to cook the waffle -- now, you can just set the timer for each subsequent waffle. just as each waffle iron is different, each waffle batter recipe is different, and what worked for last week's baking soda-raised cornmeal waffles (3 minutes 15 seconds in my waffle maker) might not be what this particular waffle recipe needs (3 minutes and 30 seconds) to cook them perfectly.
as each waffle is done, relocate it to a heatproof pie plate/baking sheet/etc. that you have cleverly put in your pre-heated oven. this is how you'll keep all the waffles warm while you crank them out; how clever of you! butter or oil the waffle iron every 2-3 waffles (more often if needed) as you go along and crank 'em out.
serve these delicious bits of heaven with unsalted butter, freshly-made strawberry preserves or sliced fresh strawberries, whipped cream or mascarpone or creme fraiche, maple syrup, honey, or anything else you'd like. sigh in pleasure as you enjoy them and accept any well-deserved and hard-earned complements.
variation: reduce the brown sugar to 2 teaspoons (just enough to keep the yeast happy) and leave out any sweet flavorings like vanilla, lemon zest, etc. instead, in hot butter or bacon fat, saute 2-3 de-seeded, finely diced fresh jalapenos and 3-4 finely chopped green onions until peppers are softened, onions are translucent and both are browning around the edges. stir that into the batter and add a nice cupful of grated sharp cheddar cheese. if you want to gild the lily further, throw in the freshly cut kernels from 1-2 ears of fresh corn. cook the waffles the same way as above and serve alongside roasted ham or fried chicken, with chipotle honey butter on the side. now you're livin' the good life.