Easy To Bake Easy To Make Waffles
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Would you believe today, in this day and age, that what some -dieters in particular- may perceive as the sinful delight of waffles actually stems from communion wafers? Oh yes, the wafers you receive in church, if you are so inclined, are the distant cousins of the tasty and easy baking treats which originate from the north west of Europe!
So, where did the two once close cousins split up?
The split happened gradually between 1200 and 1300 AC, when 'oublies' were created. At first, they consisted merely of flour and water, much like the communion wafers, but it didn't take long before flavouring was added, such as honey, thus creating the very first distinction between the two. In fact, once word got around, these 'oublies' became so popular, that a whole guild was created for those who specialized in making them.
However, it wasn't until the late 14th century that waffles were first mentioned. Having inherited their name from the old Dutch word 'wafele', or later 'wafel', which in turn finds its roots from the French etymology 'wafla' - which may mean either 'cake' or 'honeycombed', depending on the context. A very apt name, I would say, in either case. It wasn't until the next century that the first waffle iron seems to have surfaced. Records show that it was in this age that mention was first made about an actual, official iron.
This was also the time when we first see sugar and spices being added to the recipe, by the Dutch. Perhaps not surprising as the Dutch in that time were a thriving country who sailed the seven seas with their East-Indian Trading. Little did the pioneers of that time know what trends they would help set in the world of easy baking of today!
As sugar and spices became more readily available in the centuries to follow, neighbouring countries to Holland got their share of the aforementioned, which amongst others led to the creation of some of the best known waffles in the world; the Belgian waffle.
But the Dutch did not stop with that, oh no! In their colonies abroad, such as in New Amsterdam (now New York), the secret of waffle making had been imported by the settlers. And so, as those hailing from a tiny country - a speck on the map - made their way across the world, so did they bring some of their best known recipes for one of the easiest to make pastries in the world. And as cultures crossed, so did the waffles change.
However, if ever you find yourself in Holland, do try the local 'stroopwafel'. I guarantee you that it will be one of the best pastries you have ever had. And if you get that chance, remember this: The 'stroopwafel' as it is today, has more or less retained it shape over time. It is the closest you will find, aesthetically, to what those very early 'oublies' were. The taste, howeverâ€¦? Well, I will let you judge for yourself!
And now for the fun part! Here you will find a recipe for basic waffles. To make it more interesting, decorate or flavour to your own heart's content!
- 1 1/3 cups of flour
- 4 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup of butter, melted
- 1 3/4 cups of milk
1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together.
2) Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and place the whites in a small mixing bowl of their own.
3) Beat the whites until moderately stiff then set this mix aside.
4) Add the milk and melted butter to the dry ingredient mixture and blend together.
5) Fold the stiff egg whites into the mixture.
6) Ladle the mixture into a hot waffle iron and bake until golden brown.
In order to add flavour, you can actually add flavouring to the batter, like cocoa powder or vanilla. However, why not add fruit? Hot cherry compote. A scoop of your favourite icecream. Or the classic strawberries and cream?