Amy McCoy blogs at Poor Girl Gourmet. Her cookbook, Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget, is due to be released this spring.
She wrote and photographed today's post.
You have to understand that when I approached Amy early last month with the idea of guest-posting on this blog, there was no Waffleizer. There was me, trying to get a few people onboard my as-yet-untitled waffle project, writing a polite email.
Amy wrote back. She said yes.
I've always wondered about those cast-iron waffle irons — waffle irons in the truest sense of the word.
I'm out of town for a few days. Here's the first part of Amy's post:
When Dan first approached me to discuss the prospect of waffleizing, my head filled with visions of kitchen destruction: accidents, foibles, perhaps even some worthy of writing about. The “Will it Waffle?” question made me think of crushing and compressing things, splattering their doughy bodies between the hot, gridded iron.
Waffles, I learned from the trusty Joy of Cooking, evolved from the communion wafer served to parishioners at church. Early communion wafers were waffled — yep, complete with the honeycomb pattern. Just as the communion wafer remains unleavened to this day, those early versions were flat, and, if the current taste of communion wafer is consistent with those of early Christianity, I’m sure tasted a bit of cardboard.
Waffles are, happily for us, leavened, and while early waffle irons had very elaborate designs on the plates, including landscape scenes and coats of arms, modern waffle irons come in pretty simple patterns: grid or grid. Of course, you can get your grid on round, square, or heart-shaped waffles. Always good to have options, right? One day, when I am rolling around in money, I am going to get me a waffle iron with a coat of arms design.
In the meantime, having never made waffles, I had not even a plain old waffler, so I had to set about finding one. Sadly, none of my friends or relations had added a waffle iron to their wedding registries (or had they, this wish was not fulfilled), and so I was left to purchase one — not a Belgian waffle iron, mind you, a classic, flat waffle iron. I shopped around at a discount housewares store, where they had nary a waffle iron — not even Belgian, and then, in all the excitement of being in a retail store after 15 months of underemployment, proceeded to break a mirror in their wall art department.
I returned to my trusty world wide web (where I am unable to break any mirrors, and, clearly, where I should have stayed in the first place), where I located the least expensive waffle iron I could find; one that also happened to appeal to my rustic cooking sensibility — an unseasoned cast iron over-the-gas-stove-or-campfire jobby.
I mean, while I’m working on what will or won’t waffle, why not add the extra step of seasoning cast iron to the mix? That only takes a day or so.
My decision to purchase the cast iron waffle iron was also influenced by price and quality concerns. It turns out that the lower-priced electric waffle makers were a bit chintzy-looking, and didn’t get rave reviews for functionality. And one thing I knew was that I wanted rave reviews. Of whatever the heck I waffled.
The camping-set reviewers all seemed to love this waffle maker, and so I one-clicked my way to cast iron waffle maker ownership.
After an unsuccessful half hour of furiously scrubbing the cast iron plates with hot, soapy water to remove the protective layer of paraffin wax (it prevents rusting, and seemingly prevents its own removal), not including five additional minutes of chiseling wax off of the plates with my thumbnails (cast iron is a mighty fine nail file, might I add), I finally resorted to melting the wax off in the oven. The plates sat on a rack in a 350ºF oven for one hour while a piece of aluminum foil sat on the rack below them to catch any drippings.
Once the plates had cooled completely, I coated them with canola oil, then placed them back in the oven, turned the temperature back up to 350ºF, and let them bake for an hour, then turned off the heat, and allowed them to cool in the oven.
When using cast iron wafflers, it’s generally advisable to make a sacrificial waffle or two before getting into the edible waffles. This way, if any of your seasoning oil has collected and then flakes off, it ends up on your pre-waffle waffles. For this batch of waffles, I patched together a couple pieces of roll-sized oatmeal-apple bread dough I had in the freezer.
As it turns out, oatmeal-apple bread waffles like a charm, and there appeared to be no seasoning flakes attached to the finished waffle, so, after taking pictures of the waffle, I promptly ate it. (That's the photo at the top of this post). Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and savory — I made a mental note that a sandwich of waffled oatmeal-apple bread with Gorgonzola dolce, Granny Smith apple slices, and Black Forest bacon would be a nice addition to my lunchtime menu options.
However, my primary goal was to waffle my favorite apple cake, though when I started envisioning a completed dessert waffle stack, a pint of Kafe Lila’s Brown Sugar Banana ice cream was calling out to me, and the thought of caramel sauce and chopped toasted walnuts also beckoned.
I modified the apple cake recipe by substituting 1/2 cup of light brown sugar for 1/2 cup of the granulated, using 3 ripe bananas (not over-ripe, just ripe) sliced into 1/8-inch rounds, and macerating the bananas with 2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon of cinnamon-sugar to create a brown sugar-banana cake.
So does brown sugar-banana cake waffle? Um, yeah, kinda.
The recipe — and the full story on whether it waffled — is the next post.