Fluffy, buttery interiors and crispy, crunchy exteriors are the hallmarks of a good waffle — a vehicle worthy of the finest maple syrup indeed. However, making waffles that actually end up that way is another story. Not with this recipe!
Here, we're harnessing the power of whipped egg whites to give waffles that coveted airy crunchy and adding one must-have ingredient that really sets pancakes and waffles apart.
Lightest, Crispiest Waffles: Watch the Video
The Keys to Great Waffles
Let's think of a good waffle as a treasure that needs to be unlocked. A crispy, buttery, ever-so-light treasure that you can cover in maple syrup. Before we dive into those keys, let's get the pancake talk out of the way. You can't use pancake batter and expect a great waffle. Pancakes are designed to be (mostly) flat. When cooked, they develop just a pinch of pouf and they definitely don't have a crispy outside.
Waffle and pancake batters are cousins, really, but in order for waffles to do their thing, they have a few different requirements. Get them down, and soon you'll fine the waffle iron has earned a permanent place on the countertop.
An Extra Dash of Sugar Make All The Difference
On the whole, waffles tend to be just a touch sweeter than pancakes. While you'll find sugar in both batters, the extra bit added to waffles serves a function beyond flavor: it helps create a caramelized exterior, aid in the browning, and is a booster for crispness. Thanks, sugar!
The Double-Acting Power of Whipped Egg Whites
Whipped eggs whites do two things in a good waffle: they give them a crisp exterior, and the air beaten in from whipping creates that coveted fluffy inside with lovely teeny-weeny air pockets.
In this recipe, the egg whites are whipped until soft-peak stage, and then folded into the batter very gently to hold onto as much air as possible. If you can still see streaks of egg whites in the batter, you know you've done it just right!
Want to See It Done? A Visual Guide to Whipping Egg Whites
A Hot Waffle Iron Prevents Soggy Waffles
Waffle-making is, at its essence, a type of baking. After all, you are putting batter into a hot environment and waiting for it brown and rise. Waffle-making is also a little like frying — hot surface, generous amounts of fat, irresistible outcome. It's no wonder the world's gone wild for "waffling."
To ensure we're taking advantage of waffle-making as this baking-cum-frying process, you've got to preheat the iron. You wouldn't make a cake in an oven that wasn't preheated, nor would you fry an egg in cold oil. Getting the waffle iron nice and hot means the batter will crisp up as soon as it hits the surface. Don't want a soggy, floppy waffle? Preheat your waffle iron and don't forget to add a little fat.
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Customize Your Waffle
Chopped nuts and dried fruits, chocolate chips, and crumbled candy or cooked bacon make great add-ins. After you place the batter on the waffle iron, sprinkle a few nuggets of whatever goodness you'd like on the waffle press and cook. Real fruit or vegetables can be the trickiest because they add moisture to the batter, which can make it mushy. Using a whole berry or fruit with a skin works best, but you are still likely to end up with some very squishy sections of waffle.
In you want to go fully savory, leave out the vanilla, double the salt, and fold in a handful of your favorite chopped herbs and shredded cheese.
How To Make the Lightest, Crispiest Waffles
What You Need
1 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk, almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk
2 teaspoons cider vinegar or plain vinegar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and at room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla extract, optional
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Large mixing bowl
Medium mixing bowl
Stainless steel or copper bowl
Wire whisk, handheld electric mixer, or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment
- Mix the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Prepare the batter: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks, milk, vinegar, melted butter, and vanilla until well-combined. Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture and stir to just combine, being careful not to overmix; there should be a few small lumps of flour in the batter.
- Prepare the waffle iron: Preheat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Whip the egg whites: In a perfectly clean stainless steel mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, then continue to beat until soft peaks form.
- Fold the whipped whites into the batter: With a silicone spatula, gently scoop the whipped whipped egg whites into the batter. Then scoop them from underneath, along with some of the batter, very gently turning the whole thing over. Repeat until just incorporated.
- Cook the waffles: Spoon or pour the batter into the waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions, usually for 2 to 3 minutes. (You will need 1/2 to 2/3 cup of batter per waffle for a Belgian or big waffle maker, but the size can vary quite a bit. Consult the manufacturer's instructions for each model for specific guidelines.)
- Keep the waffles warm: To keep the waffles warm when making a big batch, place a baking rack on a baking sheet and arrange the cooked waffles in a single layer on it. Place in a 200°F oven to keep warm.