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Asking for thoughts about a waffle recipe

I've been experimenting with whole-grain waffles. Currently, I'm working off this basic template:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup whole grains--I've done oat flour, rolled oats, buckwheat, ground millet (in my grain mill), and corn meal, separately.
2 tablespoons ground flax seed.
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
6 tablespoons dried buttermilk (just easier to keep around than the liquid)
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch salt
2 (yes, two) apples, peeled/cored and cut into small pieces
Above all mixed together. Mixed separately:
two eggs
1.5 cups water
1 tsp vanilla

Wet added to dry, let sit 5 minutes (gets fluffier), and put in hot waffle iron. Now, this, for my tastes, is plenty sweet (I don't add syrup or sugar). And no, I didn't forget the oil: I've tried it both ways, and it's just fine without.

My thoughts, though, are to omit or reduce the buttermilk. Considering all else that's in here I don't think it's necessary--with the apples and wholegrains, would it really add much? If not, it's wasted calories. The question, though, is what to do about the acidity that activates the baking soda. I think some vinegar would be too noticeable, and lemon juice not a good fit. Just eliminate the baking soda entirely? Replace with more baking powder?

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  1. The apples are likely to make the waffle soggy, depending on the type of waffle iron you choose and how long you cook the waffle. The batter that surrounds the apple pieces will cook slower than the rest of the batter.
    The buttermilk is the acidic ingredient that activates the baking soda. Without the buttermilk (or some other form of acid - vinegar will work but it works faster because it's more concentrated than the acid in buttermilk) the baking soda is of no value as a leavening agent.
    1 tsp of cinnamon won't even be noticed.
    The recipe has no fat or other oil .... it will need some.
    The baking soda is the fast activing leavening agent that initializes the rise in the batter. The baking powder (I assume you're using double acting baking powder) begins to act early and continues as the heat in the baking waffle increases. You could add more baking powder and reduce or eliminate the baking soda but you might find that the flavor of the waffle is adversely affected to some degree - and you'd still need an acidic component.

    4 Replies
    1. re: todao

      As I've said, I've made these already, several times.
      1) the waffles aren't soggy.
      2) as I mentioned in my original post, they work just fine without the oil .

      I understand that the baking soda requires an acidic ingredient: that's my whole question. No acid, useless baking soda.

      I'm thinking I'll try the suggestion to whip the egg whites, then eliminate the baking soda entirely.

      1. re: Scott_R

        I'd skip the baking soda and add more baking powder...you don't need it if you're going to forgo the buttermilk. If you've already made the waffles & are are satisfied with the results, all you're looking for is leavening..I'd add one more teaspoon baking powder.

        1. re: Scott_R

          In my opinion buttermilk adds flavor as well as improving leavening.

          1. re: Scott_R

            Baking powder is a combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and often also contains corn starch. Some CO2 gas is produced at room temperatures from the reaction between the soda and an acidic ingredient and this contributes to the basic structure of your batter. But most of the CO2 develops when heat is added in an oven or other appliance. If you elect not to use an acid you will lose the benefit of any CO2 gas in the early stages of the batter. That's not a disastrous consequence, but it is a reality that needs to be factored in while you're making your decisions on what to include in the development of your recipe. Because I don't know how experienced you are in food science and the culinary arts I can only speculate, based on your post, what type of information you might need to aid you in your effort. My goal is to offer enough information to alleviate any frustration you might experience if your experiment fails and (depending on what you know about food science) to provide the basis for elements you might consider in the event things don't turn out as well as hoped.
            Addendum: Visciole has a very good point regarding the flavor that buttermilk contributes and greygarious' suggestion for substituting acidic juices is, IMO, an excellent idea.

        2. U could whip the egg whites and fold them in for fluffier waffles.

          1. Apple juice/cider/applesauce is acidic. You might then want to use a bit less chopped apple. A carbonated beverage would work, too, and contribute to light texture. How about slightly diluted yogurt?

            1. 6T buttermilk powder has 120 calories. I imagine this recipe makes at least four servings? For me the extra flavor and texture boost provided by the buttermilk is more than worth 30 calories... but YMMV.

              PS -- you can also make very good waffles using puréed winter squash, in case you're interested.

              9 Replies
              1. re: visciole

                I make buttermilk from 2% milk. It doesn't taste any different to me than regular buttermilk and saves a few calories. Just mix 1 cup of commercial "cultured" buttermilk (it must say "cultured" to make sure it has live starter bacteria) with 3 cups of milk. Place in covered container for 24 to 36 hours at room temperature (70F to 80F). Taste after 24 hours to see if it is tart enough for your tastes. If not let it continue to incubate for up to 36 hours. Don't place in a heated yogurt maker, the heat is too much for buttermilk and the result will be broken with watery areas. It keeps in the fridge for up to 1 month.

                1. re: Antilope

                  This sounds great, but I prefer to use dried buttermilk powder, which is made from real buttermilk (not a cultured product as "fresh buttermilk" is). It's very convenient as well as low-fat.

                  1. re: Antilope

                    I've never seen cultured buttermilk other than non-fat or 2% milk, btw. Buttermilk is by nature a lowfat product.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      I recently read that today's supermarket buttermilk is never made from whole milk. I use it in baking, never drinking straight. However, I remember that 50 years ago the supermarket buttermilk my father drank was thick like a milk shake, with lots of lumps; very different from today's.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        That's not because it was full fat; it's because it was real buttermilk, i.e. the liquid leftover after butter has been churned, which is naturally low-fat and thick. The stuff in stores today is a cultured milk product, like a thin yogurt, really.

                        Therefore if you want the taste of real buttermilk, I recommend Saco dried buttermilk. It tastes very good and is easy to use and convenient -- no I don't work for them, I just really love their product.

                        1. re: visciole

                          Well, in the Boston area, we can now get real buttermilk from Kate's of Old Orchard Beach, ME. It's not cultured skim/2% milk, but the leftovers from buttermaking. It is lowfat, but has some tiny flecks of butter in it (modern centrifuges are so much more efficient in separating butterfat out of milk).

                          http://www.kateshomemadebutter.com/Ka...

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Do you think it makes a noticeable difference in baking/cooking? And can it be frozen/thawed successfully for baking purposes? I've seen it but never looked farther than the hefty price tag. Shame on me, I did not even think about the cultured vs. natural aspect. The powdered buttermilk, which I do have, calls for mixing with dry ingredients, then adding the water later. Has anyone tried reconstituting it separately? If so, does it blend decently? I wanted to use it for something once - can't recall what - wherein adding powder and water separately would not have worked.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              I also use it in salad dressing, and, when shaken well with oil, lemon juice, etc, it blends in nicely. However, I've never tried to reconstitute it with water.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                Kate's has been selling this month for $1.50 per quart at Market Basket. It's cheaper than the cultured stuff. And it keeps for months. It's wonderful. Get some and decide for yourself.

                  2. you could also replace the buttermilk with almond milk (30 calories a cup) if it's important to you. and sour it with a tablespoon of lemon juice.

                    i know you're not looking to add calories or anything per se, but you could also use a tad of molasses to activate the baking soda.

                    or, what about double-acting baking powder?

                    out of curiosity, how many waffles does this recipe make? thanks!

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Emme

                      The recipe makes 6-8 waffles, depending on the iron.

                      It's not that I'm watching every little calorie, but I'm balancing what actually makes a difference. Sounds like substituting for the buttermilk/baking soda isn't worth the effort, between keeping the browning effect of the baking soda and everything else. Guess I'll tinker here and there; tomorrow, I'm going to use 1/2 cup sprouted wheat berries for the whole grain part.

                      1. re: Scott_R

                        do you ever use wheat germ toasted? another great addition...

                        1. re: Emme

                          For me, the buttermilk issue is this: buttermilk can be a great flavor addition to otherwise relatively plain pancakes and waffles, adding that wonderful tang (as well as being the activator for the baking soda).

                          But this recipe is so jammed full of other flavorings--the whole grains, the apples, the cinnamon (and I agree it could use more of the last, though I also tend to supplement it with nutmeg)--that I don't know that the buttermilk really adds anything. I'm thinking, therefore, that it's a wasted ingredient, both in cost and calories. Not a lot of each, of course, by why be wasteful? I'm trying to create a waffle that's really reflective of its ingredients; if all a cup and a half of buttermilk (or, really, 6 tablespoons of Saco powder) does is to activate the baking soda, then I'm rethinking that whole combination--the first question being "do I need buttermilk?" and the second being, "if not, do I find another way to activate the baking soda, or replace the soda entirely?"

                          I've considered wheat germ, but that's another thing I rarely have around--it goes rancid quickly enough that in the past I end up buying a jar, using some, and having to toss the rest, so I'm loathe to keep it around (the flax seed, at least, I can keep whole and in the fridge, and grind when needed). With the sprouted wheat, I had some wheat berries left over from making a sprouted wheat bread, so....

                          1. re: Scott_R

                            If you do a side-by-side, please report back. I'm betting on the buttermilk actually adding a lot of flavor as well as texture, despite your very flavorful ingredient list. Once I tried using buttermilk in many baked goods I never went back, and I *think* I can taste the difference.

                            1. re: Scott_R

                              Didn't fiddle with the buttermilk yet, but the sprouted grains (a little less than 1/2 cup WW berries, soaked and sprouted, then pureed to a paste in a food pro) was a mixed result. Very good on the taste, but they didn't hold together well, sticking to the waffle iron, with the second and third additions from the one batch were successively stickier than the first (probably sticking to remnants from the last). The sprouted grains became a really thick, sticky mix that was hard to mix in and overwhelmed both the nonstick coating and the cooking spray (even without added oil, this recipe has been otherwise just fine with the other grains). I wonder if I should have added the pureed grain to the liquid and not the dry, to break it up better.

                              1. re: Scott_R

                                have you considered toasting the wheat berries in a pan, then just stirring them into the batter before adding it to the waffle iron? i would just add the berries to a hot pan, then keep stirring them around and let them pop and become golden...

                                1. re: Emme

                                  I hadn't realized that toasting them made them edible (the unsoaked berries are stone-hard); googling "toasting wheat berries" now, though, makes that look like a possibility. Thanks for the suggestion.

                      2. The baking soda, as a base, assists importantly in browning. The baking powder has some soda in it, but is not as powerful as the pure soda.