Move over, pancakes – you’ve been replaced. Waffles have stolen the place in my heart that used to be heavily occupied by pancakes. (Sorry, Dad! I’ll still make you some.)
Pancakes used to be my favorite breakfast food to make. It started in middle school with my BFF Abbey, during our weekly sleepovers and what we referred to as the “Rock and Roll Cafe.” You guys – we were so much fun. Just picture it: two middle school girls whipping up crazy amounts of chocolate chip pancakes on a Saturday morning (after a Friday evening viewing of Gilmore Girls, of course) while rocking out to oldies music on the radio (Beatles, The Four Tops, etc.). Now flash forward about ten years and picture a 24-year old girl simultaneously making a batch of waffles and cleaning the kitchen while rocking out to Miley Cyrus on a Tuesday evening. Progress? Maybe. Basically the same. Slightly bigger pants.
First of all, I’m a texture person. Pancakes are wonderful in all of their light and fluffy glory, but that gets a little boring after a while, hence the need for a side of breakfast sausage or crispy bacon to mingle with the maple syrup on your plate. Waffles have that nice balance of a crispy exterior and fluffy center, at least if it’s a good waffle. My current obsession with waffles has been well-documented on my Cake Over Steak Tumblr. (Top favorites include Overnight Oat Waffles, Pumpkin Cornbread Waffles, and Rye Waffles.) I just love being able to leisurely make them on a weekday evening, and then eat them every morning for breakfast throughout the week to follow. It feels so luxurious to eat a waffle on a weekday morning, don’t you think?
BUT. If you have never tried a “yeasted” waffle, then you might not be living life properly. Marion Cunningham’s famous yeasted waffles have been discussed all over the Internet, and for good reason. They’re amazing. You have to think ahead a bit with these because they must rise overnight. Or if you look at it another way, you can do the bulk of the work necessary for weekend morning waffles on a Friday or Saturday night, and that’s always a good thing, especially if you’re hosting a brunch with friends or something. You could probably get away with starting these in the morning and then making waffles for dinner. If you have kids in your house (or other humans), they might appreciate that.
If you’re a fan of a very present yeast flavor in things like bread and beer, you will love these waffles. That flavor is not shy in yeasted waffles, so if you’re not a fan, you might want to steer clear and stick with regular waffles. However, I urge you to try it because it adds something wonderful. They develop that crispy crust, but the inside is almost custardy, like the inside of a popover. For my version, I’ve jazzed her recipe up a bit with coconut oil, light brown sugar, and lots of vanilla (both bean and extract). The vanilla flavor is not as strong as you might expect, as it has to compete with the yeast flavor. Feel free to add more vanilla if you want, either using two beans or throwing in more extract. Either way, I think the vanilla definitely adds a little somethin’-somethin’ to these that would not be there without it.
The first time I tested this recipe I wasn’t sure if I was happy with it or not, but then my good friend Stanley tried some. Granted, he’s easy to please with food, but he would not stop talking about these waffles, and asking me to make them whenever he was in town for the weekend. That’s when I realized that maybe I had something after all. I’ve made them a few more times with some tweaks, and each time Robert and I declare them to be some of the best darn waffles we’ve ever had or made. Plus, Robert doesn’t let me give them away very easily, so that’s always a good sign.
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 packet (or 2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 oz. or 115 grams coconut oil, melted
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. light brown sugar
- 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp. vanilla extract, separated
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- In a large bowl combine the warm water with the yeast, and let it sit for 15 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, begin to warm the milk on medium-low heat. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the milk and also throw in the bean itself. Continue to warm the milk, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles form by the edges, or until it reaches about 110°F, and then take it off the heat.
- Meanwhile, combine the salt, sugar and flour in a medium bowl.
- Add the milk, melted coconut oil, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and flour mixture to the bowl with the yeast. (Include the vanilla bean as well - you will discard it later.) Mix to combine, and then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit out at room temperature overnight, or about 8-12 hours.
- In the morning, whisk together the eggs, baking soda, and 3 tsp. vanilla extract. Add that to the batter just until combined. Discard the vanilla bean pods.
- Warm up your waffle iron. When it is ready, spray the iron with baking spray (I like to use spray coconut oil) and use about ⅓ cup of batter per waffle. Be careful not to overfill, or it might spill out of your waffle iron. I use this waffle iron, and these worked well on setting #4.
- As the waffles finish, place them in a warm oven on a wire rack on a baking sheet to stay warm. The wire rack is key to keeping them crisp; otherwise they will steam and become soggy.
- If serving later, let them cool on a wire rack at room temperature before storing in the refrigerator. To reheat, place in a 325°F oven for about 7 minutes.