The Minnesota State Fair opens tomorrow. But today? Today, we waffle.
Yes, it’s National Waffle Day. Let’s start the party with some stats, courtesy of Finlandia Cheese, which recently polled 2,000 Americans on their feelings regarding waffles.
What’s shocking is that there is a significant minority of our fellow citizens (24 percent) who don’t like waffles. What’s wrong with you people?
Other data: Opinions about waffles are somewhat split along gender lines, with more women (80 percent) than men (69 percent) falling into the “like” category. A preference for waffles pretty much transcends income levels (that was a survey question?). And here’s something Minnesotans already knew: waffles are most popular in the South and, yes, the Midwest.
The easiest way to celebrate this momentous occasion is to have someone else do the cooking. My Top Five list includes the tender beauties at Al’s Breakfast (which are made in a cast-iron stovetop iron and include a disturbingly delicious baked-in bacon option), the crisp versions at Black Coffee & Waffle Bar, the buttery street food-style lovelies at Tbsp. Waffles farmers market stand (weekends only, alas, so you'll have to curb your craving for a few days), the spectacular yeasted versions at chef Olivier Vrambout’s L’Etoile du Nord Cafe and the tops-in-their-class savory waffle at the Birchwood Cafe (and yes, there's a gluten-free version). Oh, and if you can wait a day, Blue Moon Dine-In Theater at the Minnesota State Fair cranks out a lovely waffle.
Or, you can make them at home. Waffles are incredibly easy; easier than pancakes. It’s too late for my favorite recipe, a delicate, yeasted waffle from Mark Bittman (it’s an overnight batter), but these buttermilks, from “Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book” are impressive, foolproof and, most important, delicious.
This being Cook’s Illustrated, the formula comes with plenty of helpful tips. Here’s the one that really resonates with me: “While the waffles can be eaten as soon as they are removed from the waffle iron, they will have a crispier exterior if rested in a warm oven for 10 minutes.” Done.
Makes about 8 7-inch round waffles.
2 c. flour
½ c. buttermilk powder
1 tbsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ c. sour cream
2 large eggs
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ c. vegetable oil
1 ¼ c. seltzer water or club soda
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet; place in oven.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, buttermilk powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.
In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, eggs, vanilla extract and vegetable oil. Gently stir seltzer (or club soda) into wet ingredients. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir until just combined (batter should remain lumpy with few streaks of flour).
Preheat waffle iron and bake waffles according to manufacturer’s instructions (use about 1/3 cup for a 7-inch round iron). Transfer waffles to wire rack in preheated oven; repeat with remaining batter. Serve.