Today I decided that I was going to play at being Ina Garten and give you a recipe without frills.
Remember when cooking shows taught us how to roast chickens, make macaroni and cheese, or bake a solid yellow cake?
We learned how to make really good things. Sure, there was not exactly confetti and streamers, but they were recipes that we would make, enjoy, and repeat again and again.
In the food blogging world, we have a lot to compete with. I mean, when is the last time a basic waffle showed up on your Pinterest feed? In order to stand out, we have to glaze, infuse, or add avocados to every idea if it has any chance of catching the eye of a modern-day, attentive-deficit, “scroller.”
This is something that regularly irks me. It goes against my pedantic nature: grinds against my thirst for method and perfectionism. I love a Nutella-filled anything, but so often I am looking for the basics, and so I turn to Ina, Alton, or my boringly neutral baking book from the Culinary Institute of America. These forefathers of foodie culture had nothing to prove, but were solid, reliable, and simply very delicious.
Much like these waffles.
Several months ago, I tweaked that formula and perfected the classic waffle. Kind of a step backwards, but sometimes I do not want chocolate waffles, I just want waffles.
No, these are not fancy, but I can honestly state that this is the best waffle I have ever eaten, and even though I hate self-proclaimed “perfect” recipes, it cannot justly be called anything else.
Much like Ina Garten dares to publish her lemon curd as just that, "Lemon Curd” - the purest and truest title without frill or fuss - these are “just” waffles. Waffles that you should make whenever the craving sets in. THE waffles.
Am I over-emphasizing?
Now that I have (hopefully) convinced you to put forth the effort and make my plain but perfect waffles, let’s get down to the details.
There are two annoying things about this recipe.
Back when these carb babies were in the testing phase, I really tried to avoid including these two steps, which were obnoxious and, I hoped, unnecessary. However, the food gods would not allow me the shortcuts, so we have to practice a bit of patience and pay the price of perfection. Gosh, how annoying does that sound?
The first regrettable is that we have to think ahead and allow a few of our ingredients to come to room temperature. I know, I know, it is such a bother. And no, you cannot microwave eggs. I mean, you really cannot. Please don’t try it. Just trust me. It’s a very bad idea.
This temperature adjustment is important because we are trying to create a smooth batter. If you skip this step and combine the hot, melted butter with the cold sour cream and eggs, the butter will solidify into tiny pieces, and the egg yolks will scramble. The whole thing ends up looking like cottage cheese and the texture is just icky. Don’t play around and be an adult.
By “be an adult”, I mean look at your phone for forty-five minutes while you let sour cream and eggs sit on your countertop.
The second bothersome element? You really have to dirty three bowls if you are going to do this right. I know, that’s a lot of dishes for eight waffles. But again, it is what we have to do. We have to mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, AND beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Yes, you need your electric mixer. Please don’t hate me.
Beating the egg whites happens to make all the difference when it comes to texture. This step feels unnecessary, but it allows us to lighten and aerate the batter.
Don’t let this step beat you. HA! Haha. I’m definitely the only one laughing.
The good news? Well, now that I have made these waffles about fifteen times, I can attest that by the third or fourth go-round, it becomes second nature and the steps feel far less tiresome.
Now, you are done. You’ve got a few dishes in the sink, but you also have perfect waffles.
Crisp, sweet, buttery, and eggy - no syrup required.
I’m so proud of us.
The Perfect Everyday Waffle
makes eight waffles
Cook’s Note: This recipe is designed for a thin, crisp waffle, so while it will translate to various shapes/sizes of waffles and makers, the number yielded and the texture may vary.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs (separated) at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Plug in your electric waffle maker and set to the highest heat. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Cook’s Note: I really like a thin, crisp waffle. This model is very similar to the maker I have.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour. baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Place egg whites into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Set aside for now.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until a smooth, thick batter forms. The batter will be very thick at this point, but do not worry, the egg whites will loosen it.
Add one third of the beaten egg whites into the batter and use a spatula to quickly mix the whites into the batter. Add a second third of egg whites and fold in a little more gently. With the third addition of whites, work very carefully, folding the whites very softly and slowly into the batter.
Coat your waffle maker with nonstick spray and place about 1/3 cup of batter into the center. Close the waffle maker and cook until very crisp. Turn the waffle out onto the prepared baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet in the oven to keep the waffles warm while you cook the remaining batter.
Serve warm with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Cook’s Note: These waffles will stay fresh and delicious for several days and reheat wonderfully. Simply allow all of the waffles to cool completely, then stack them, placing a square of wax paper in between each so they do not stick together. Place the stacked waffles into a gallon-sized zip-top bag and store in the refrigerator for up to five days. To reheat, simply place in a 300 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or place in your toaster for a crisper waffle.