From America's Test Kitchen Season 11: Lazy Day Breakfast
Most waffle recipes are merely repurposed pancake recipes that rely on butter and maple syrup to mask the mediocre results. And even those designed specifically for a waffle iron are time-consuming affairs that complicate this would-be simple breakfast. We wanted waffles with a crisp, golden-brown, dimpled crust surrounding a moist, fluffy interior. And we wanted a recipe that didn’t require much more than measuring out some flour and cracking an egg.
To get crisp, the exterior of a waffle must first become dry, and the moist steam racing past the crisping waffle as it cooked was slowing down the process. We needed a drier batter with much more leavening oomph. To do this, we took a cue from a Japanese cooking technique, tempura. In tempura batters, seltzer or club soda is often used in place of still water. The tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide released from the water inflate the batter the same way as a chemical leavener—minus the metallic taste that baking soda and powder sometimes impart. We replaced the buttermilk in our pancake recipe with a mixture of seltzer and powdered buttermilk. The resulting waffles were incredibly light, but not as crisp as we wanted. For better texture, we replaced the melted butter in the recipe with oil—melted butter, which is partly water, had been imparting moisture to the waffles, preventing them from crisping. Best of all, tasters didn’t notice the swap, just the excellent flavor and wonderfully crisp texture.
Makes about eight 7-inch round waffles
While the waffles can be eaten as soon as they are removed from the waffle iron, they will have a crispier exterior if rested in a warm oven for 10 minutes. (This method also makes it possible to serve everyone at the same time.) Buttermilk powder is available in most supermarkets and is generally located near the dried-milk products or in the baking aisle. Leftover buttermilk powder, which can be used in a number of baking applications, can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a year. Seltzer or club soda gives these waffles a light texture that would otherwise be provided by whipped egg whites. (Avoid sparkling water such as Perrier—it’s not bubbly enough.) Use a freshly opened container for maximum lift. Serve waffles with butter and warmed maple syrup.