Sunday morning. It’s quiet and overcast. The perfect light for photographing these whole wheat waffles. The Civil Wars are playing in the background from the speakers of Kev’s computer. Nothing fancy. $3 fresh flowers from the store sit on the messy table that needs to be cleaned. Something about it all reminds me, winter is just a season. The fog will soon lift. And the streets will bustle with activity and noise. But the quiet, that awkward, revealing sound I so often avoid, is majestic right now.
I’m making our favorite weekend whole wheat waffles, a recipe I’ve been playing with for months now, tweaking, an inch at a time, until they come out perfect, light and crispy. It happened this morning. So crispy on the outside you can hear the fork break through. But so tender in the middle it softens the initial blow. They soak up the messy maple syrup while still holding their shape. All the while cradling the blueberries we had on hand.
The dishes sit on the table exactly where we left them. After breakfast, we linger in the quiet a little longer, waiting to go to church, which doesn’t start until well after lunch. I’m still full from the waffles. We head to church. But this time it’s not out of routine. For awhile, a long while, that’s all that it was. But that’s a conversation for another day. We’re welcomed by a symphony of guitars, three, playing calmly in the background. And almost to a crescendo, the service begins with a clang of silence. We pause for meditation.
“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
—Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
Many months have passed where I couldn’t hear it. Not that I was trying to. I’m good at filling the blank spaces. But today I hear it. That awkward, revealing silence. The hum of the house. The beat of my heart through my ear canal. The car driving by on the uneven road. The crunch of the fork breaking through the whole wheat waffle. And somehow, somehow it has turned into a beautiful, majestic sound.
A delicious, simple whole wheat waffle recipe designed to ensure a light, fluffy interior and crispy edges.
5 tbsp. unsalted butter 1 1/2 c. room temperature milk 1 large egg 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat flour 2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 2 tbsp. pure cane sugar
Heat waffle iron on high heat. I set mine to 5 (out of 6). This will help to create an initial crispy exterior. Preheat oven to 250°F degrees, and line a baking sheet with a cooling rack. Set aside.
Melt the butter over low heat on the stove until half melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool and finish melting. This will help to bring down the temperature of the butter down so that it doesn’t re-harden when meeting the chill of the milk.
Add all of the the dry ingredients to a medium bowl, and stir to combine.
Slowly whisk in the milk to the cooled butter. If the butter begins to harden, that means it’s still a bit too warm. In that case, add it back onto the stovetop on low to pull the chill off. You’ll get the rhythm of this simple method soon enough.
Whisk in the egg, orange juice, and vanilla extract into the milk mixture until evenly combined.
Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Tiny lumps may remain.
Add batter to heated waffle iron. Amount will vary depending on size of waffle iron. I typically err on the side of less batter. Remove cooked waffle and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet with cooling rack, being sure not to stack. Repeat.
Place baking sheet in the oven to re-crisp waffles before serving. Note: Stacking or placing waffles directly on the baking sheet causes waffles to become limp due to the steam. When placing on a cooling rack, the heat is able to hit and crisp all sides of the waffle. Waffles are ready when crisp to the touch.
Meanwhile, prepare any fruit, and warm the maple syrup. Serve. We like ours with a dollop of plain whole milk yogurt, coconut shreds, and whatever else sounds good that morning.
Save leftovers covered in the fridge. Reheat in toaster to warm and crisp. Heating in the microwave will cause waffles to soften.
If you’re without orange juice, substitute with milk and a splash of orange extract or a quick grate of citrus zest. The citrus helps to cut any bitterness of the whole wheat flour.
I prefer to cook with White Whole Wheat Flour or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour as it tends to be less gummy and bitter than traditional Whole Wheat Flour when used in recipes developed for all-purpose flour.