Sara of Cake Over Steak and I have finally met in real life! You know, that super talented food blogger who is also a super talented artist? And guess what? She’s just as friendly and fabulous in person as she is on the internet. We bonded over our love for tequila, podcasts, and large amounts of food while strategizing on how to get Gilmour, her dog, to like me (we did it!). Also I wanted to steal all of her cookbooks and props. Because she’s got quite the collection guys. I bet you can guess just how good of a time we had!
Sara has honestly taken me under her wing a bit and shown me the ropes of blogging. She is one of my first blogger friends, and I am so thankful to have her as one. I am such an amateur, and she is wonderful enough to pass along tips of which I am desperately in need!
In between trips to breakfast, after-breakfast drinks (no judging!), and the farmer’s market, we collaborated on a post! We decided to create some epic waffles for y’all, so get ready! I bet you’re wondering what makes our waffles so epic. Well we used beer! So you know it’s a goodie. Not only that, but we used two different types of beer to create two lovely waffles. I’ve got the apple wheat waffles here, and Sara’s got the blueberry waffles over on her site. These apple wheat waffles feature some fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon that complement an apple wheat beer, and the blueberry waffles use lemon and a bit of cinnamon to highlight a blueberry cream ale. Please do yourself a favor and gather both of these recipes for your repertoire. You can thank us later! But before you head off into waffle land, here’s the science!
Everything you need to know about waffles
The thing that makes waffles so special and wonderful is their mystifying texture. A perfect waffle should be crispy on the outside and soft and light on the inside. Easier said than done. How do we create the enigma that is a waffle? Read on and never have a floppy waffle again!
First of all, put down that pancake batter! The great myth in the land of waffles is that pancake batter can be used interchangeably. A myth that I grew up with, by the way. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like waffles growing up and much preferred pancakes (sorry for calling you out mom and dad). Waffles and pancakes are extremely different in their final form, but that doesn’t just come from the way they are prepared. The batter itself contributes to the tell-tale textures of crispness versus floppiness.
Waffle batter should have two main components that differ from pancake batter. The first is a touch more sugar. Sugar breaks down when heated at a high temperature in a reaction called caramelization. This caramelization process produces some of the yummy aromatics that you can smell when your waffle is almost done. Caramelization occurs in part because of the evaporation of water—dehydration of the sugar is the first step of caramelization. Because of this, caramelization of the sugar on the exterior of the waffle helps to create the crisp crust in addition to extra flavor. Adding fruit will also add sugar and help with the caramelization (we’ve got apples and blueberries in ours!).
The batter should also contain more fat than a pancake batter. This is due to a couple of reasons. The first is that fat will help to keep the interior of the waffle soft and prevent the air (from the heat-activated leavening) from leaving. The second is that fat on the outside of the waffle will contribute to the crisp texture. The high temperature of the waffle iron causes quick evaporation of the water (see above with the sugar). The fat in the waffle then becomes more concentrated and creates that crispy crust we love in our waffles. This comes into play when we talk about how the batter is heated.
The waffle iron:
Okay you can’t make waffles without the special waffle iron. So you may think that this is pretty self-explanatory. But there are plenty of mistakes that you can make with your waffle iron! Your waffle iron needs to be hot enough, and it needs to have some form of fat on it. That intense heat and oil coating is what is responsible for essentially frying your waffle. Think about it. A waffle does have a similar texture to a funnel cake or a beignet. Except instead of a bath of fryer oil, the waffle is created by surrounding the batter with an oil-covered hot metal apparatus. That heat immediately begins to penetrate the batter causing complex reactions that end as a waffle. And it gives that nice crust on the waffle that you expect when you cut/bite into it. (Brush up on frying with this donut post!)
So how does booze interact with this waffle system?
Well if you follow some of the guidelines above, alcohol can make your waffles even more amazing. Alcohol has a lower boiling point, so as alcohol is evaporating more quickly than water, the crust is also forming more quickly and the middle is becoming fluffier more quickly. This leads to a more fool-proof and lighter waffle!
Sara and I used amazing craft beers that not only give us some benefit of the alcohol, but they also add a few other aspects. Beer has some sugar that adds to the caramelization of your waffle. The brewing process furthermore creates some reducing sugars such as glucose that react with the proteins in the flour to lend a bit of Maillard browning to the mix. Additionally, beer is carbonated which jumpstarts the waffle’s interior fluffing process (yep that’s a scientific term…not). The dissolved carbon dioxide in the beer is created during the fermentation by the yeast and slightly aerates the waffle batter. That aeration supplements the evaporation of water that causes the fluffy inside.
And finally, the beer deepens the flavor of the waffles. In this case, Sara and I used an apple wheat and blueberry beer. So you can only imagine the magic inside of these waffles! Oh wait, you don’t have to! Just head on over to Cake Over Steak or scroll down just a liiiittle bit more. I’ve got the apple wheat waffles, and Sara’s got the blueberry waffles on her site. Be sure to make both of them part of your breakfast festivities. Or part of your every-meal festivities. I bet these would make even a Monday wonderful. Yep they’re that good.
I am giving all credit to Sara for this waffle recipe and the other. She did the recipe development and perfected both of these waffles, so cheers to her! Thanks Sara, you’re amazing!
Apple Wheat Waffles
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes 11-13 6-inch waffles
1 ¾ cups (228 g) whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch nutmeg
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar + whole milk filled to 1 cup)
¾ cup apple-wheat beer
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 apple, chopped finely
1. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. Beat the egg whites in a stand mixer until medium-soft peaks form.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla, buttermilk, and beer. Then slowly mix in the melted butter while whisking at the same time.
4. Add the butter mixture and the chopped apple to the flour mixture. Using a spatula, mix gently until just combined.
5. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the rest of the batter. Let the batter rest while you heat up your waffle iron.
6. When it’s ready, spray with nonstick baking spray and spoon some batter into it. For a standard waffle maker (not a Belgian one), I use about ⅓ cup of batter per waffle. Cook them according to your waffle maker’s specifications.
7. Place the finished waffles on a cooling rack so they don’t steam themselves and get soggy. To keep them warm, you can place them on a cooling rack set on a cookie sheet, and keep them in a warm oven (about 200⁰F) until you are ready to eat. Serve with more butter, maple syrup, fresh fruit, yogurt, etc. or whatever your heat desires.