I’ve been lamenting my current lack of kitchen equipment a lot lately, so I won’t bore you with that again. It may surprise you if I say that I actually don’t have an overwhelming amount, because I know how much damage I could do in a kitchen store given half a chance, and so I keep myself on a tight rein. One of the rules I have for myself is to think very carefully about buying anything that only does one job. I made it waaaay back when I was registering for wedding gifts, and I remember exactly why: because I really, really wanted a waffle iron.
When I got married, I didn’t have much experience with cooking, beyond a few basics. I loved eating waffles, but I had never made one. (I’m not sure I had even made pancakes at that point.) I argued myself out of registering for a waffle iron on the grounds that it would be a frivolous waste of money and cabinet space for someone to buy me a tool that only did one thing, and that one something I knew nothing about.
Flash forward fourteen years. I’ve pretty much stuck to the one-job rule for equipment, and I’ve learned how to cook a lot of things. I’ve never given up hankering for a waffle iron, though; and I’d still never learned to make a waffle.
Then, just last week, in Target, I stopped by the kitchenware section to see if they had small cast-iron skillets. They didn’t, but they had something else I’d never seen before. (Something I didn’t know existed, although it makes perfect sense if you think about it, since I’m sure waffles predate electricity.) They had waffle pans: a small, square griddle, with four waffle indentations on it and instructions on how to cook them. (The short version: a lot like pancakes.)
Yes, I bought it. I know it violates the rule. But it cost $20, takes up hardly any room, and is a very effective way of making me miss my kitchen stuff a little bit less. And I figure I can use it for something else—sauteeing onions for fajitas? Funny-looking hamburgers?
Plus, now I know how to cook waffles. For real. Even people with waffle irons can't really say that.
Adapted slightly from The Best Make-Ahead Recipes from Cook's Illustrated
The batter for these is made ahead of time and left to rise overnight in the fridge. They taste excellent, but the best thing about them is how little work they present on a Sunday morning.
1¾ cups/14 oz/390 ml whole milk
4 oz/112 g unsalted butter
2 cups/10 oz/280 g all-purpose/plain flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1½ tsp yeast
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Combine the milk and butter and heat through until butter is melted, either on the stovetop or in the microwave. Let stand to cool for about 5 minutes. While this is happening, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.
Whisk the milk/butter mixture into the dry ingredients gradually, until batter is smooth. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla together to combine, then add to the batter and continue mixing until thoroughly combined and consistent.
Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (can be made up to 24 hours ahead).
When ready to cook, heat waffle pan thoroughly over medium heat. Remove batter from refrigerator; it will be puffy and doubled in size. Whisk again until deflated and recombined. Place 2 heaping Tbsp of batter in each waffle cavity. Cook on one side until browned lightly and easy to lift from the pan, 3-5 minutes. Carefully flip waffles and cook on the other side for a shorter time (1-3 minutes). When cooked, remove to a baking tray and hold in a warm oven until all batter is cooked.
Serve as soon as possible, with lots of butter, maple syrup, and bacon.
Makes 16-20 3-inch (7.5 cm) square waffles.