Sunday, June 20, 2010

Breakfast Science and Bacon

Bacon!! Buttermilk Bacon Waffles

The basic waffle batter recipe comes from the talent of Andrea Greary at Cooks Illustrated. But, like always, I had to experiment with it, adding a couple of things. You know, like bits of brown sugar caramelized bacon

I've had readers comment, what is it with you and waffles (or pancakes?). It's comfort food for me, Mom making them for dinner, with farm fresh bacon on the side when the budget was really tight. As kids we loved it. Still do. But I can't abide the metallic taste of the frozen ones or the limp ones that result from many recipes.

These buttermilk waffles not only have BACON, but they are crisp, fluffy and light, but not insubstantial.

The secrets?

It's the most basic of science. The melted butter in the recipe is replaced with oil. Butter is 16% water which contributes moisture to the inside of the waffle, which on removal from the iron will start softening your crispy texture immediately. Additionally, with less moisture IN the waffle the outer surface will reach a higher temperature faster, giving the waffle crust more time to form. The result? Crispy golden brown outside, soft fluffy interior. You won't miss the butter taste but this simple trick will keep your waffles from turning soggy.

We've got the crisp outside handled, what about the inside? Most gourmet waffles use whipped egg whites to get that fluffy center, as the whipping adds millions of little air bubbles to the batter.

But whipping egg whites is a repetitious, monotonous task involving time and repeated motion. You've got better things to do, you know, like process that pile of .40 brass in the Dillon press.

As C.I. instructed, replace the whipping the eggs step with seltzer water (not sparkling water, it's not bubbly enough). Using the seltzer with powdered buttermilk powder inflates the batter the same as a chemical based leavener, without the metallic taste. The little bit of baking soda keeps the buttermilk/seltzer mixture from being too acidic to brown the waffles.

The recipe makes 8. Enough for you and yours and an extra, slightly cooled, one to fling off the deck like a Frisbee for Barkley. He doesn't understand science, but he does like a good waffle.

13 comments:

  1. Oh, so good! I'm off to make breakfast now. :)

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  2. Buttermilk powder is a Staple in our pantry! Oil in waffles, applesauce in pancakes--perfect every time. When it's just me and the kiddos we often have pancakes for supper..and everyone is delighted!

    My dad recently experimented with the seltzer water and the results were amazing!

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  3. Oh gosh, I'm hungry now and I've already eaten breakfast!

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  4. recipes ALWAYS taste better when i know the science behind their goodness. thanks, B!

    p.s. now my seltzer secret is public!

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  5. Haven't tried it yet, bu I can't help but think that lard or bacon grease would give a fluffier waffle than oil (there's also the fact that I don't keep oil or shortening in the house, so I'll have to use lard or bacon grease. We'll see.
    WV: keduump--the act of secreting a size-13 sneaker.

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  6. I always go to you for truth and well-crafted prose. Occasionally, there is fud pron. When your page first booted, and I saw today's picture, I exclaimed aloud, "OH GAWD!", not in a negative way. (un)Fortunately, I had already had b'fast. -sigh-

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  7. This like guest blogger, Alton Brown come to explain the science of cooking. When you speak of waffles and bacon, you are speaking of art not science.

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  8. Someone had to ask about pancakes and waffles?

    And I still get crap for blogging Mrs. Drang's secret French Toast ingredient...

    wv: croutt. No, waffles.

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  9. I'll have to try the seltzer water trick.

    My own trick for pancakes (every Sunday morning - with bacon!) is to replace half the milk with whipping cream. Always makes for thick, fluffy pancakes.

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  10. Love the recipe, and boy, that Barkley is one smart dog! Don't be surprised if he starts talking next! Or at least walking on his hind legs and using his front paws like you use your arms. Ya never know...

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  11. Brigid- I love the flavor of the butter in my waffles, but instead of regular butter (which has high moisture content as you point out), I use clarified butter. Most of the moisture is removed in the clarifying process, the butter doesn't scorch until much higher temperatures, and the flavor remains.

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  12. Newbius - you are a genius you know. I use the clarified butter in my eggnog pancakes, never thought about it for here.

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  13. Bacon, is there nothing it can't do?
    I whip my egg whites with an electric mixer. Technology, a wonderful thing.
    I'll have to try the whipping cream in the pancakes, sounds good.

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