Sometimes the time comes to confront a question and finally learn from it. The good part: If it’s a food question, you get to eat your homework.
While testing recipes for a story on Breakfast for Dinner, I was struggling with a waffle recipe. I wanted to concoct a stuffed waffle, with Gruyere and thinly sliced ham encased inside a waffle. I had a little success and several spectacular messes, and finally abandoned the attempt.
While chipping melted cheese and waffle batter from the edges of my waffle iron, though, I had time to think about my disappointment with so many waffle recipes.
I've had some good waffles. But I’ve also had a lot of limp, so-so waffles. It really becomes a problem if I try to make waffles for more than one person. Even a warm waffle won’t be great after it sits in the oven while you make enough for everyone.
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A few times, I’ve gone to the trouble of making overnight waffles, where you use yeast in the batter and make it the night before. They were good, but not good enough to be worth planning that far ahead. Waffle occasions tend to be more spontaneous.
I've also looked at lots of recipes that call for folding beaten egg white into the final batter. Yes, I’ve looked – and moved on. Do I really need to go to that much trouble for a waffle? Instead, I have stuck with the easy waffles, simple batters that require nothing more than mixing, baking and slapping on the syrup.
Finally, on a snowy night after making breakfast dishes all day, I decided it was time to give the egg-white waffles a try. I had the waffle iron out, but even better, I had a new immersion blender with a whisk attachment.
It really isn't that hard to whip an egg white. Less than 5 minutes by hand. A lot less with an electric mixer. With an immersion blender with a whip attachment? Less than a minute.
I found a great recipe, from former Cook’s Illustrated food editor Pam Anderson, that also uses cornstarch for lightness and buttermilk (I used soured milk) for flavor. What did I find after I went to the trouble?
A wonderful waffle. Crispy and light, it kept its crunch while it waited in a warm oven.
So, my question was answered: Beat an egg white. It’s worth it.