I thought finding the perfect waffle recipe would be so easy. After all, how can a waffle not be fantastic?! But after more than fifteen attempts, I was starting to lose hope. The waffles were either way too crispy, or not all all. A bit too fluffy, or too dense. Nailing the perfect texture, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside seemed impossible. It didn’t help that I had to whip egg whites for most recipes. And then I found the perfect recipe that did not require any egg whipping and only required one bowl! Yes, one! Not even two!
What’s The Difference Between Pancakes And Waffles?
We saw last week how to make pancakes. Some might be tempted to just use a pancake recipe to make waffles as well. But waffle and pancake recipes are actually different. The ingredients might be the same, but the proportions and what you do with the ingredients differ.
There are three main differences1:
- Fat: Unlike pancakes, waffles have a crispy exterior. To achieve this, a higher amount of butter is used when making waffles.
- Liquid: Waffle batter will usually have a lower amount of liquids than pancake batter, which again, contributes to the crispy waffle texture.
- Whipped egg whites: Waffle recipes generally call for an additional step. Egg whites are whipped and folded in the batter at the end, for a lighter texture.
Waffles only require a few basic ingredients:
- Flour: The flour will provide structure to the waffles. All-purpose flour is generally used. It is possible to replace it partially with other types of flours, such as buckwheat or whole wheat flour. Just keep in mind that the texture won’t be exactly the same. Whole wheat flour, for example, will make the waffle a bit denser and heavier. You might also need to adjust the liquid content, depending on the flour you are using and how much water it absorbs. Bread flour absorbs more water than all-purpose flour for example.
- Liquids: We’ll be using milk in this recipe. It is also possible to replace a small portion of milk with water. The waffle will be slightly lighter and crispier. Milk adds flavor and richness however, so it’s best not to replace too much of it with water.
- Fat: The butter will give the waffle a nice crispy exterior. And it will also make it easier to remove the waffles from the waffle iron. This is something to keep in mind if you decide to decrease the butter amount in the recipe. You might find that your waffles are suddenly sticking to the waffle maker. Some bakers like to replace the butter with oil and find their waffles crispier with oil. I personally preferred the flavor and richness of waffles made with butter.
- Eggs: The eggs are used for structure. But also for added lightness. The egg whites are whipped, giving the batter more volume and airiness. I’ve also seen recipes calling for whipping the whole eggs, to avoid separating them.
- Sugar: Sugar is added for sweetness. But it will also yield a crispier waffle when it caramelizes from the heat.
- Chemical leaveners or yeast: For a fluffy and airy texture.
- Flavorings: You can add salt, vanilla extract, citrus zests etc.
What makes waffles fluffy? Leavening agents. There are several ways to leaven the waffle.
- Chemical leaveners: Baking powder (and sometimes baking soda) are commonly used in waffle recipes. These are useful when you are in a rush, and need the waffles ready yesterday! In case you missed it, we discussed chemical leaveners when we made pancakes.
- Air: You probably avoided recipes that called for whipping the egg whites separately, didn’t you? Well, when you whip the eggs, you are incorporating small air bubbles into the batter. When you start cooking the waffles, the heat will cause the water to vaporize into steam. The steam – and carbon dioxide, if using chemical leaveners or yeast – will fill the air bubbles. They will expand and leaven your waffle, giving it a nice fluffy texture. Most recipes use baking powder and whipped egg whites in conjunction. I have seen some, however, that only call for whipped egg whites. The resulting waffle is slightly denser.
- Yeast: We used yeast quite a bit while doing the easy bread baking calendar. The yeast will add a nice tanginess and complex flavor to the waffle.
Do You Really Need To Whip Egg Whites For Waffles?
As previously explained, adding whipped egg whites will yield lighter and fluffier waffles. But it’s an extra step most of us would rather avoid. So I thought I’d test it out. I used the same recipe and mixed in the whole egg with the wet ingredients in the first attempt. In the second attempt, I separated the eggs and added only the egg yolk to the liquids and whipped the egg white separately.
The result: Whipping egg whites did in fact lighten the batter. Adding the whole egg to the wet ingredients yielded a tight crumb and the waffle was a bit dense (pictured left). Using whipped egg whites yielded a lighter crumb with a better mouthfeel. But the truth is, the difference wasn’t so significant. Both waffles were tasty.
I thought I’d also share with you another attempt I did, where I accidentally added the whole egg to the wet ingredients and then folded in whipped egg white. The additional egg white produced a crumb with lots of air pockets and the waffle looked, and tasted, bready (pictured right). I found it interesting that one egg white could produce such a big difference in appearance, and flavor.
Using softened butter instead of melted butter
I tried so many recipes the past week. I had two criterias: the waffle had to be tasty, and very easy to make. And the best waffle we tasted was the recipe from JustInCooking, where she uses softened butter instead of melted butter. It was the most flavorful and had the best texture. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And best of all, it’s super easy to make and only requires one bowl! No need to whip egg whites! The only disadvantage to this recipe is that you do have to refrigerate the batter for 2 hours (or at least 30 minutes) before using it for optimal results.
But if you can’t wait, no worries, I got you covered. I’ll show you three different ways of using the same recipe: 1) one bowl method (woohoo!) with softened butter, 2) the two bowl method (wet and dry ingredients), 3) using whipped egg whites. Pick your favorite method, depending on how much time you have and how many bowls you are willing to wash!
Making Waffles Using Softened Butter
If you don’t feel like whipping egg whites but have some time to spare, using softened butter is the way to go.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Make a small well in the center of the flour mixture.
- Pour the eggs in the well and using a whisk, slowly start incorporating the flour. I prefer adding one egg and then mixing before adding the second one. But you can do whatever is more convenient for you.
- When the mixture gets a bit thick, gradually add the milk and keep whisking. Don’t add the liquid too quickly or you will get a lumpy batter.
- Add the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
- Add the softened butter and whisk until fully combined.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before using.
The butter should be very soft and creamy or you will have trouble incorporating it into the mixture. If this happens, you can use an immersion blender to smoothen the batter. But be sure to refrigerate the batter before cooking it to relax the gluten. Excessive mixing will cause too much gluten formation making your waffles tough.
Making Waffles Using Melted Butter
Most recipes call for melted butter so I thought I’d show you this method as well. There are two ways to do this: the easy and quick way. Or the slightly longer way, using whipped egg whites. The advantage of the first method is that it’s super quick to make! The con is that the waffle will be slightly denser. Using egg whites will lighten the waffle and give it a melt-in-your-mouth feel.
The quick way
- Melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove and set aside while you prepare the ingredients.
- Wet ingredients: Whisk together the egg and melted butter (cooled down). Add the lukewarm milk and vanilla extract and combine.
- Dry Ingredients: In another bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Gradually pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Don’t worry if there are small lumps in the batter. You can just leave them in.
With whipped egg whites
You will need three bowls, for the 1) wet ingredients, 2) dry ingredients and 3) egg whites.
- If you decide to whip egg whites, you first need to separate the eggs (whilst cold, it’s much easier).
- Mix the wet ingredients: egg yolk, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract.
- Mix the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder. Leave the sugar out, you will use it with the egg whites.
- Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine.
- Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Then add the sugar and whip to medium peaks.
- Fold in a third of the whipped egg whites in the batter to lighten it.
- Add the remaining egg whites in two additions and gently fold in, being careful not to deflate the batter.
Cooking The Waffle
One word of advice before cooking the waffles: read the instructions manual of your waffle maker!!
I couldn’t find mine the first time I decided to make waffles. And I kept seeing them flip the waffle maker in videos. So I did the same! Big mistake! I only managed to get two waffles out of it before it stopped working! When I later found the instructions online, it clearly stated not to move the waffle maker when plugged in! Oops!
- Preheat your waffle machine for a few minutes, or as recommended in your machine’s instructions guide. To determine if it’s hot enough, try sprinkling a few drops of water. If they sizzle, it’s ready. Grease the machine, if recommended in the instructions. I personally own a non stick waffle maker and I generally do not need to grease it. Using a ladle, pour the batter into the center of the cavity. Spread it evenly with the back of the ladle (or with a large spoon) in order to fill all the gaps. I use about 1/2 cup for an 11.5 cm (4 1/2 inches) square Belgian waffle (with deep indentations).
- Close the lid and cook the waffles until golden brown and crispy. This might take about 4 minutes, depending on your waffle maker.
You will notice a lot of steam coming out of the waffle maker during the first few minutes. Do not open the lid at this point or you might tear your waffles.
- When the waffle is ready, lift it out of the waffle maker using a fork. Transfer to a wire rack (use tongs if needed). Don’t put the waffle on a plate if you are not planning on serving it immediately or it will get soggy. If you are making several batches, it’s best to let the machine heat up again for a couple of minutes before pouring more batter.
Shape Of The Waffle
One of the trickiest parts of making waffles is probably figuring out how much batter to pour into the waffle maker. If you pour too much, the batter will drip everywhere. If you pour too little, you’ll end up with gaps in your waffle or with a one sided waffle! This could also happen if there wasn’t enough leavening in the batter. The batter won’t reach the top lid when cooking and you will only have indentations on the bottom side.
If you are cooking several waffles at the same time, they might stick together. To separate them easily or simply tidy up the edges, you can use kitchen scissors.
And that’s it! I hope you’ll love these waffles, or “woofles” as my youngest calls them!
1Gisslen, W. (2005). Professional Baking (4th ed.). Wiley.