Monday, December 28, 2009

Homemade Waffle Face Off

overnight vs insanity

Ever since I tried my first Belgian waffle (with real pearl sugar!) from Mr. Crepes a few weeks ago, I've been wanting to make some waffles. My friend, Nicole, had left me her waffle maker when she moved away this past summer and I had yet to break it out. I was hoping to buy some pearl sugar from Mr. Crepes, but it turns out they no longer sell it there. So I settled for making regular waffles. But oh my, the many different "regular" waffle recipes that existed! I browsed through the waffles on TasteSpotting, The Kitchn, and looked up Alton Brown's recipe. I remembered an episode from Good Eats when he explained that the batter you want for pancakes and the batter you want for waffles are two completely different things since pancakes should be soft and fluffy and waffles should be crispy on the outside. Unfortunately, his recipe for the Basic Waffle included buttermilk as an ingredient, and I didn't really feel like buying something I don't usually use just to make this. But then I found a recipe titled, "Waffle of Insane Greatness". How could you not want to make those?

And then while talking to my friend, Helena, about my plan to make waffles, she recommended Mark Bittman's recipe for Overnight Waffles from How to Cook Everything (thank you, Ellen!), saying they were the best waffles she had ever had. That's when I decided it was time for another face off: Yeasted vs. non-yeasted waffles.

Obviously, as you can tell from the title, the Overnight Waffles need to be started the night before to give the yeast time to do it's thing. There are several steps to the recipe, and I followed everything to the letter (including separating the egg and whipping up the egg whites; is there anything more satisfying than whipping egg whites up to a soft peak by hand?) except that I halved the recipe. Hopefully it didn't alter the outcome too much.


Overnight Waffles (based on Mark Bittman's recipe from How to Cook Everything)
makes 2-3 servings

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Canola oil (for brushing on waffle iron)
1 egg

The night before, combine dry ingredients and stir in the milk, then butter and vanilla. The mixture will be loose and creamy. Cover and set aside overnight at room temperature.


The next morning, brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat. Separate the egg and stir the egg yolk into the batter. Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them gently into the batter.

Pour the batter onto the waffle iron just until the barely covered. Bake 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately with maple syrup and butter.

I thought it was interesting that in the book, Mark mentions that his favorite type of maple syrup is Grade B which is also the cheapest. Maple syrup is pretty darn expensive even up here in New England, but I found that Harvest sells Grade B maple syrup in bulk!

It looks like the "Waffle of Insane Greatness" recipe is from a restaurant called Aretha Frankenstein's in Tennessee. I have a feeling I will never get to go and try the originals, but having the recipe is good enough for me.


Waffle of Insane Greatness (courtesy of the Food Network and Aretha Frankenstein's)
makes 4 servings

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar, and vanilla and mix well. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat the waffle iron. Do not use non-stick spray on the waffle iron; the oil in the batter will allow the waffle to release easily. Follow the directions on your waffle iron to cook the waffles. Serve immediately with butter and syrup.

It's true about not needing to grease the waffle iron for these. If you let the batter sit long enough, the oil will even start to separate. If that happens, just stir the batter again and the oil will re-incorporate. I chose not to halve this recipe because it would've been a lot harder to do so and also because it seemed like the main ingredients (flour, milk, oil, and egg) were almost identical in quantity.

As you can see from the pictures above, the Waffle of Insane Greatness browned more uniformly and had a more defined shape. This translated into a crisper waffle. It also had an eggier taste than the Overnight Waffles which I thought had a pretty strong yeasty taste. The texture of the Overnight Waffles was definitely fluffier but I didn't really get the crispiness.


I decided to try to make them side by side so that they had the same amount of time on the iron. Again you can see (below) that the Waffle of Insane Greatness had a more defined shape and that the Overnight Waffles had more air bubbles, but now you can see that the Overnight Waffles actually brown quicker than the Waffle of Insane Greatness. (Please ignore the fact that there are holes in the Waffle of Insane Greatness; that's more due to user error as you can see in the picture with the waffle iron.)


Personally, I had a slight preference for the Waffle of Insane Greatness because it was able to get the crispy texture I wanted. Too many air bubbles in the Overnight Waffles meant it absorbed the maple syrup like a sponge and got way too soggy way too fast. Also, I thought the yeasty taste was a little too strong for me. One of my roommates preferred the Overnight Waffles, though, and my other roommate's sister preferred the Waffle of Insane Greatness.

As a final experiment, I mixed the last of both batters together and made an Overnight Waffle of Insane Greatness. This turned out to be the perfect waffle for me. The yeasty flavor was neutralized and turned into a more malted flavor. The waffle was crispier and had less air bubbles than the Overnight Waffles but was fluffier than the regular Waffle of Insane Greatness. If I ever really, really wanted to make the perfect waffle, I would make these two recipes and combine them again. But being the lazy person I am, I'll probably just make the Waffles of Insane Greatness again and maybe try separating the egg and whipping up the egg whites before folding them in.


One year ago:  Hot Pot, Tang Yuan


  1. Buttermilk can be made by adding a Tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice to approx. 1 cup of milk (or soy milk), and of course you can change the quantities to suit your needs :)

  2. Looks great! I've used my waffle iron once, and it won, meaning they didn't come out so great...I'll have to try again!

  3. this is awesome- love the side by side shots on the waffle maker!!! i looked through different recipes when i was in a waffle phase too. once i had an amazing waffle and found out the secret ingredient was cornmeal (which gave it a great texture) but whipping up the egg white makes it wonderfully light too.

    will have to try the Insane Greatness one just for the name!

  4. now i'll have to try the waffle of insane greatness to see if i like it better than the overnight waffles! btw, i always put my syrup on the side of the plate and dip pieces into it so my waffles / pancakes don't get saturated - so i've never noticed it getting soggy before.

  5. I like the "goodnight waffles" that came with my waffle iron cookbook. They're probably similar to the overnight ones you made. My iron is deeper and maybe that makes a difference, but I have never gotten waffles as crispy as those. I don't saturate my waffle with syrup so maybe that helps :)