If it wasn’t for an Instagram cookbook club, #rainydaybitescookbookclub I participate in, my Belgian waffle maker would still be hiding in the farthest reaches of my corner cabinet. It took some blind faith while I groped around the black hole, knowing I would recognize it as soon as I felt it. I almost pulled a muscle stretching to grab the waffle iron just out of arms reach. Surprisingly, it was still in good shape even after fifteen plus years of neglect. Something old becomes something new and I rediscovered the wonders of homemade waffles.
My cookbook club challenge has a deadline, so I did not waste time and started making waffles as soon as the waffle iron got tidied up. The featured recipe is Indonesian Fried Chicken with Ginger and Sesame Waffles from, Meyers and Chang At Home by Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz. Their recipe for Ginger and Sesame Waffles is light and crispy and delicious. I loved the fresh ginger in the waffle. It was bright without being too strong. Between making the recipe and cooking the waffles, everything was so darn easy it inspired me to try my own ideas creating delicious waffles.
After making our family favorite pumpkin bread, I realized there was more pumpkin purée to use up. Originally, I planned to make pumpkin waffles with fresh pumpkin purée and my favorite blend of pumpkin pie spices. Unfortunately, the pumpkin waffles did not wow me, or Joe because there was no noticeable pumpkin flavor in the waffles. Based on how much I like the ginger sesame waffles, I decided to make waffles using a standard base recipe and add in orange zest and a blend of spices often used in pumpkin pie. After testing several waffle recipes, I decided on Meyers and Chang’s base waffle recipe without the flavors. Of all the recipes I tested, their waffles were the lightest and crispest.
For a gluten-free breakfast pancake, try my Banana Oat Pancakes
My waffle iron is a Belgian Waffle Maker by Nordic Ware and makes large, Belgian style waffles. There are many types of waffle makers on the market and all produce different size waffles. The amount of batter in this recipe, produced two waffles using my waffle iron. Whereas, for Meyers and Chang the amount of batter produced 3 waffles using their waffle maker. But like pancake batter, waffle batter is easy to double. So I kept the original proportions and just made some minor adjustments using my spices.
First, I added orange zest. I believe citrus zest is one of the best flavor enhancers in any type of recipe. Before squeezing out citrus juice, I grate up the zest. It’s a shame to have that big flavor boost go to waste. Orange zest gives a slight bitter-sweet accent and pairs well with warm spices like cinnamon and clove. Lemon zest would also work, but play around with different spice combinations like nutmeg and ginger.
Like a spice cake, these waffles have a lovely blend of spices that create one flavor. For this recipe I included ground ginger, because not everyone loves ginger. However, if you are like me and love fresh ginger, add about a tablespoon instead of ground ginger. Fresh ginger is special in this waffle recipe and does not have the bite often associated with it. It just tastes fresh. Ginger along with a blend of spices is often associated with pumpkin pie or gingerbread. I love these desserts and the flavor the blend of these spices brings. Especially with a pinch of ground clove. It is a spice blend without one dominate spice overwhelming the others.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind making waffles. Butter is a key ingredient. It helps create the crispy texture and prevents the waffles from sticking to the waffle iron. Most recipes I tested use no less than 4 tablespoons of butter for 2 cups of flour. However, I found using more butter made it lighter and crisper. Joy of Cooking gives you a choice of using anywhere between 4 tablespoons (57 g) of butter, up to as much as a cup (226 g) of butter. So, this recipe is somewhere in the middle.
The next key ingredient and technique to achieve crispy and light waffles is, separate the eggs and whip whites until soft peaks form. All recipe sources I referred to recommend using this technique. If you want light and fluffy waffles, whipping the egg whites will make that happen. Of course, it is not necessary, but it makes a difference in taste and texture.
This is a great foundation waffle recipe. It is easy to play around with different flavors with the key elements intact. I happen to like buttermilk, but you can substitute it with yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraîche. If you do use one of these ingredients, add about a quarter cup of milk to thin them out. Keep the total about of liquid the same as the buttermilk.
Play around with different flavors and fruit. Like pancakes, waffles are easily amendable to all sorts of additions like bananas or pears. Serve waffles as soon as they are made with your favorite toppings, like maple syrup and/or fruit. If you follow the instructions for your waffle iron, making waffles is straightforward and easy.
Orange Spice Belgian Waffles
- 2 TB 28 g of granulated sugar
- 1 TB orange zest
- 5 TB 63 g butter melted and cooled
- 1 cup 144 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground ginger (or 1 TB fresh ginger, grated)
- ⅛ tsp ground clove
- 1 egg room temperature and separated
- 1 cup 250 ml buttermilk room temperature (or ¾ cup of yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche with ¼ (60 ml) cup milk to thin it out.)
Remember to bring all your ingredients to room temperature before starting.
Preheat oven to 250°F / 120°C / Gas Mark ½. Place a wire cooling rack in a sheet pan, then place the sheet pan in the oven to warm up.
Measure the granulated sugar into a small dish and grate the orange zest over the sugar. Mix the sugar and zest with your fingers to combine and get the sugar coated with orange zest. Set aside.
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground spices. Then whisk together until evenly combined. If using fresh ginger, mix that in with the wet ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks, buttermilk, melted and cooled butter, orange sugar, and (if using fresh ginger.) Stir until combined.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Fold in until just combined. Be careful not to overmix the batter. It is ok to have some lumps. Over-mixing the batter makes dense and tough waffles.
Heat up the waffle maker.
Whip the egg whites in a small bowl with a hand-held beater or wire whisk, until soft peaks form. Carefully fold in the egg whites into the batter.
Lightly baste the waffle iron with vegetable oil or shortening.
Cook the waffles. Follow the instructions given with your waffle iron. For my waffle iron I poured one cup of batter into the hot waffle iron. Other waffle makers will use less batter.
Keep waffles warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batch.
Serve immediately with maple syrup and fresh fruit.
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