Sunday, July 10, 2016

Historic Waffles Two Ways: Traditional and Rice

Still Life with Waffles by Georg Flegel, 17th c. Dutch
















Waffles in History
Waffles are cakes made using a light, eggy batter and are distinguished by being baked on special irons which emboss them with a honeycomb-like texture. Waffles are most usually associated with the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, where they can be found in abundance on street carts, sweet shops, and in cafes. They are topped with sweet sauces, chocolate, fruit, caramel, whipped cream, ice cream and many other tasty treats. There is also a magical confection called a stroopwafel which consists of wafer-thin waffles that are sealed together with tasty caramel. My recent visit to Amsterdam gave me a great education in the many ways in which waffles can be enjoyed!

Despite this association, particularly with the Dutch and Belgians, waffles may have originated in ancient Greece with recipes for obelios which are flat cakes cooked between two hot metal plates. Cooking the cakes on the honeycomb-shaped plates seems to have emerged in the 13th century.


Waffles go back in Dutch history to at least the early 17th century but likely much earlier. A recipe for Waffles appears in a 17th century Dutch cookbook called De Verstandige Kock (The Sensible Cook), the third book in larger set called Het Vermakelijick Landtleven (The Pleasurable Country Life). The work was first published in 1667 by Pieter van Angeles. It was translated into English in Peter G. Rose's book called The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and the New World (Syracuse University Press, 1989). Here is the waffle recipe in English:

To Fry Waffles

For each pond [sic] of wheat flour take a pint of sweet milk, a little tin bowl of melted butter with 3 or 4 eggs, a spoonful of yeast well stirred together.


The Dutch who settled New Amsterdam (New York) in 1609 likely brought waffles, among other culinary delights, to the New World. However, the famous Pilgrims who settled  Plymouth, Massachusetts, probably also brought them to America; they encountered them at least a decade prior to their famous sail on the Mayflower to the New World when the emigrated to the Netherlands around 1606. 

By the 18th century, waffles were firmly established in England, France, and North America. There are records of waffle parties in 18th century America and Thomas Jefferson even brought a waffle iron back to Virginia from France. Having spent lots of time in and around 18th and 19th centuryAmerican historic kitchens, and having read dozens of contemporary American probate inventories of taxable property, I can attest to the marked presence of cast iron waffle irons in North America.


Two 19th Century Baltimore, Maryland Waffle Recipes
The following recipes come from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including these)!


Waffles
5 eggs to a quart of milk, 1 ¼ lb. flour , ½ lb. of butter, beat them all together & bake them in Irons. Serve them with sifted sugar, cinnamon & Butter.


Waffles: Modern Recipe Adaptation

Ingredients:
  • 5 Large Eggs, Separated
  • 4 Cups Milk
  • 2 Sticks Butter, Melted
  • 4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • Butter and Cinnamon-Sugar, to Taste
Directions:
1.  Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Place the egg whites in another mixing bowl and beat to the stiff peak stage. Set aside the beaten egg whites.
2.  In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the milk and melted butter. Whisk together. 
3.  Add the flour to the milk mixture and whisk together. Then, fold in the egg whites. Here is how the batter should look:


Waffle Batter

4.  Heat your waffle iron and bake as directed. I used a deep Belgian style waffle iron and needed 1 cup batter per waffle. I made ten waffles with this quantity of batter.
5.  Top the waffles with butter and cinnamon-sugar.

Traditional Waffles


Rice Waffles 

(Mrs. Morris)
boil a tea-cupful of rice and beat 2 eggs, 1 pint flour, 1 spoonful of butter & as much milk as will make them into thin batter. bake in irons.

Ingredients:
  • 2 Large Eggs, Separated
  • 1 Cup Rice, Cooked
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Milk
Directions:
1.  Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Place the egg whites in another mixing bowl and beat to the stiff peak stage. Set aside the beaten egg whites.
2.  In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the rice, melted butter, and milk. Whisk together all of the ingredients and then mash up the rice a bit to get it to blend more easily. Note: the rice does not need to be completely mashed up.
3.  Add the flour to the milk mixture and whisk together. Then, fold in the egg whites.
4.  Heat your waffle iron and bake as directed. I used a deep Belgian style waffle iron and needed 1 cup batter per waffle. I made five waffles with this quantity of batter.

Rice Waffles


References
  • Alan Davidson, The Penguin Companion to Food (New York, 2002)
  • LaRousse Gastronomique, New York, Clarkson Potters, Publishers, 2001.
  • Oxford English Dictionary

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