Great waffles boast a crisp honeycombed surface and a tender, moist interior. One of the best ways to get there is with a yeast batter, an idea popularized by Fannie Farmer in her original 1896 cookbook and closely associated today with the delightful Marion Cunningham, who now updates Farmer’s book. Many cooks shy away from yeast batters and doughs, but they are worth a little extra time for the complexity they add to taste. As with our buckwheat pancakes, you start the evening before with a couple of quick steps. The yeast does the real work overnight, producing a fine, ready-to-use batter by the morning.
Game plan: Some people think of waffles as difficult to get right but you can succeed every time by following a few basic principles.
Relatively thick, homemade batters make better waffles than thin batters from mixes because they foster the desirable combination of internal moistness and external crispness. Spread the batter on the waffle iron evenly with the kind of spatula you use for frosting a cake.
Even with a nonstick waffle iron, it’s best to oil the surface before cooking and then again after preparing every second or third waffle in a batch. It gives extra insurance that the waffles won’t stick and helps promote browning and crispness.
Cook the waffles long enough to get a truly crisp surface, which may be a little longer than your iron’s doneness indicator suggests. With our iron, for example, most waffles come out best when cooked for about 5 minutes, consistently 1 to 2 minutes longer than the manufacturer suggests.
Serve waffles one at a time, as they are ready, for the best texture and flavor. Otherwise hold them in a warm oven until all are done, but keep the time to a minimum.
1At least 6 hours and up to the evening before you plan to serve the waffles, stir the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a large bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir until it disappears. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place overnight.
2Just before you plan to prepare the waffles, stir the egg yolks in the batter. Beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff but still glossy.
3Heat a greased waffle iron. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Cook the waffles one at a time, following the directions from the waffle-iron manufacturer. They should be crisp and brown when done. Serve the waffles individually as they are ready or hold them briefly in a warm oven until all are finished. Accompany them with butter and syrup.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.