Reason to Rise
March 22, 2015
There is nothing as luxurious as a really great waffle. On this snowy morning the knowledge that a big bowl of waffle batter was slowly puffing itself up in the kitchen propelled me right out of bed.
I'm a longtime fan of Fannie Farmer's classic yeast waffle recipe, which I first encountered in Marion Cunningham's wonderful The Breakfast Book. But this is a new twist: I used rice flour instead of wheat. The result: waffles so light they seemed to float off the griddle and hover in the air. Waffles so light they dissolved the instant they hit the tongue.
Many thanks to Anson Mills, whose 13 colonies rice waffle flour is unlike anything I've used before. Like Sean Brock (with whom they've partnered), Anson Mills has embarked on a quest to bring back the heirloom crops of the antebellum Carolina rice kitchen. They've searched through seed libraries, looking for southern crops that disappeared with the industrialization of American farms, and brought them back. Take a look through their site; this is is agricultural history at its most intriguing.
This rice flour is specifically intended for waffles, which were extremely popular in the old south, and often served at dinner with fried chicken. Personally, I prefer them in a starring role at breakfast. A perfect start to the day.
Note: Anson Mills cuts this rice flour with pastry flour. If you’re using ordinary rice flour, be sure to use half rice and half wheat flour.
(adapted from Fannie Farmer and Anson Mills)
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon plus one tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups Anson Mills 13 colony rice flour OR 3/4 cup rice flour plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water (be sure the water is not too hot or it will kill the yeast). Set aside.
Whisk the flour, salt, and remaining tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl.
Slowly melt half a stick of butter, allowing it to turn a slight, nut-like brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. When it's cool enough to stick your finger in, add the yeast mixture.
Stir the liquids into the flour, mixing well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave on the counter to rise overnight.
The next morning, stir in an egg and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. If the batter feels a bit thick, add up to 2 tablespoons more milk.
Pour batter into a hot waffle iron: how much batter you use will depend on the size of your iron, but in my old fashioned cast iron waffle iron it makes about 7 waffles.
Eat with maple syrup, apple syrup or, in true southern fashion, sorghum. Or simply eat the waffles piping hot, unadorned, with your fingers.
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