The Amazing Adventures
of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey
to the Aurora Universe Writers' Group
While I'm on
the subject, I might as well tell you how to make a really good waffle. It's likely that
few, if any, of you have ever enjoyed one. Most people confuse non-skid pancakes with
waffles, but there's a fundamental difference that goes beyond topology. And I'm not
talking about 'Belgian' waffles, frozen waffles, or Waffle House waffles.
Pancakes are doughy inside. They have a
cake-like texture and soak up syrup like a sponge. A well made waffle is entirely crispy
with a delicate, much lighter texture. Their creation is a great deal more difficult to
If you think you're man enough to make your own
waffles, you'll have to have a waffle iron. It should be as cheaply and flimsily made as
you can find, probably at a yard sale. The problem with a robust, modern waffle maker is
that they tend to be heavy, often with interchangeable texturizing plates suitable for
double duty as a cheese sandwich toaster. The heavy lid is a waffle killer, crushing the
life out of your delicate confections. The best ones are small, round chrome plated jobs
made in the fifties. They can — and will need to be — repaired over and over, mostly
replacing the wire heating element and thermostat. The 'pilot light' is a glass button
covering a hole in the front of the cover that allows you to see when the element stops
glowing, indicating the thermostat has determined that the proper temperature has been
achieved. This is an early example of Artificial Intelligence.
The cooking surfaces have to be well prepared
by liberally slathering them with unsalted butter or bacon drippings and burning the hell
out of them several times. Be sure to take the batteries out of your smoke alarm. The
smooth, almost black coating that results from aggressive seasoning will never stick to
your creations. Sort of a low tech Teflon, only better.
Start your chefing by turning on the waffle
iron so it can preheat. Its gotta be hot. Smoking is good, or you can spit on the platter:
if the drops dance, it's ready. Set out your butter plate so it will soften. For
spreading, use lightly salted real butter. If you're going to make waffles, forget about
cutting calories. Might as well die happy.
I prefer maple syrup for topping, but honey is
good, too. Either of these should be hot. Don't use the microwave unless you like sticky
explosions. Boil a pan of water and put the bottle in it. Snobs will buy 100% Vermont
maple, but that stuff is usually too thick for me and tastes too much of molasses and
sulfur. Just make damn sure that whatever you get doesn't have corn syrup in it. Cane
sugar is the only way to go. Please avoid 'lite' crap. You can try other toppings, like
berries or pecans. Parsley doesn't work.
You'll need a good, commercial dry pancake
batter mix. I usually use Bisquick, but Pillsbury Extra Lite is excellent. Just make sure
it's not one of those to which you only add water. Powdered milk is an abomination. Try to
avoid cornstarch products, also (read the label). Use whole milk, preferably past its
prime — somewhere between something you'd spit out and cheese.
Triple the amount oil called for on the box
directions for pancakes. One of the keys to crispiness is the action of the oil which actually fries
the surface of the waffle. This also helps prevent sticking, your biggest enemy as a
waffleur. Use a really good oil or maybe melted, unsalted butter. Always add plenty of
vanilla extract. The best kind is homemade, using vanilla beans and Jack Daniels. (By the
way, a mixed drink stirred with a vanilla bean is wonderfully smooth.) Don't add the eggs
The eggs must be separated. This is a skill
requiring a little practice. Crack the egg neatly in half, allowing the white to run into
a deep, ceramic refrigerated bowl. Transfer the yolk back and forth between the shell
halves a few times until all of the white winds up in the bowl, then drop the yolk into the
bowl with the batter mix in it. Stir together the dry mix with milk, oil, vanilla extract
and egg yolks — very gently. Use the bare minimum of strokes necessary to blend the
ingredients. Wooden spoons are best. Don't worry about the lumps.
The egg whites need to be beaten until they
turn into a stiff, white mass that looks like Styrofoam. Don't use a whisk unless you are
looking for an aerobics workout. A portable electric set to warp factor eight will do
nicely. Pour the batter on top, then gently fold the batter and stiff egg whites together,
using as few slow strokes as possible. Lumps are OK.
You now have about twenty minutes to cook your
waffles before the egg whites break down. Spoon the stuff onto the waffle iron, gently
lower the lid, and watch for the 'light' to go out again — or for steam to stop coming
out around the edges. With luck, the finished waffle will pop off the upper lid with no
problem. They must be eaten immediately. A cold waffle makes a lousy Frisbee.
take planning so that you wind up with the last batch.
Now you know why a good restaurant waffle is
hard to find. Only one place in Houston makes them this way, and only for a few hours on
Sunday morning. Parking there is impossible, you will stand in a Disneylandish line for a
long time, and you'll probably have to eat outside. It's worth it.
© Patrick Hill, 2000