Christmas Waffles

I have a recipe for multi-grain waffles that I’ve been working on perfecting for the last…oh, five years or so. I make these in massive batches and I freeze most of the results; in the mornings, I pop half a waffle in the toaster for an easy (and really delicious) breakfast. This recipe is what used to be a tripled recipe for someone else’s straight up white-flour waffles, but since I found that original recipe, I’ve basically modified it a thousand times.

At this point, it has evolved into a (mostly) forgiving recipe: a few blunders won’t kill you, and there are endless opportunities for substitutions without fear that you’ll ruin the whole thing.

Here’s my Christmas version of it (which I’m making now, while Mr. Milan sleeps).

dry ingredients

3 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c buckwheat flour
1/2 c blue cornmeal
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/4 c yellow cornmeal
1/4 c garbanzo flour
1/4 c oat flour
1/2 t powdered stevia
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt

A note: I’m giving actual amounts here, because I’ve found most people like getting recipes that have actual amounts. The only thing that is fixed in the above is the 3 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (is that ever important–you must use whole wheat pastry flour! I’m convinced the reason most people think that whole wheat is solid and chewy is that they use bread flour to try to make pastry items) and the baking soda (use baking soda, not baking powder!). Everything else is malleable.

For instance, you can use sugar instead of stevia. (Most people like waffles sweeter than I do, so I think you’d want about 1/3 cup sugar for regular person sweetness?) And the other flours are “for instance.” I like using a little oat flour every time, because it makes the batter sticky, and it makes the resultant waffle less likely to come apart in the iron. But if you don’t have somewhere where you can get cool flours, it’s perfectly fine to use 3 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 1/2 cup corn meal. Just about any combination of flours will work–but I try to keep it at 3 3/4 cups fine ground flour and 1 1/2 cup gritty flours for texture reasons.

Now we get to the fun part: Christmas seasoning! To the bowl above, add the following, freshly ground:  nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, juniper berry, black pepper.

I have a pepper grinder; everything else is done on the microplaner. I would tell you how much I add, but I don’t really measure as I go. A few gratings of nutmeg. About half a cinnamon stick. A berry of allspice, cardamom, and juniper. A few grinds of the pepper grinder. Be careful not to overdo it on the nutmeg–it can be a very overpowering spice. You can add a little clove powder if you want, but it’s even more dangerous than nutmeg: too much completely ruins the batch, and you can’t have too little.

You can do just about anything (within reason) for the seasoning. One of my favorites is the zest of 3 limes–simple and delicious. Or think about just plain vanilla (if you’re doing this, either add the extract to the wet ingredients, or if you’re using a vanilla bean–and why wouldn’t you?–put 1 c of the buttermilk into a pan and scrape the seeds into it, and then simmer with the bean in the mix. Remove bean before adding back to wet mixture). You can also add heftier ingredients: pecans and cranberries, or chocolate chips and slivered almonds. But if you do that you should be sure to increase the liquid slightly below. And no, I don’t know how much “slightly” is–just pour a little more in, okay?

Mix the dry ingredients together and set them on the side. Now is a good time to turn the waffle iron on.

In a separate bowl, mix:

1 quart buttermilk
1 1/2 c canola oil
6 egg yolks (put the whites in the largest bowl you have).

Set this bowl of wet ingredients to the side of the dry ingredients. A note on the eggs: there are only a few non-forgiving portions of this recipe. One is the whole wheat pastry flour (pastry flour: don’t forget that!). The other is the eggs. This recipe is highly dependent on the eggs for loft. So use really, really good eggs. I mean it! The other thing is the buttermilk. You do have to use buttermilk–otherwise the baking soda won’t activate. If you really, really can’t use buttermilk, I guess you can make do with regular milk and a little vinegar, but it just won’t be the same.

Another note on oils: I use canola oil. I’ve done just enough experimenting with olive oil to know that the batch comes out way too oily if you use 1 1/2 c. I think olive oil is just too heavy over all to be used here, but I suspect that the usual suspects used in baking are just fine.

All righty. Now take your egg whites and beat them until they form stiff peaks. I like to do this by hand. And before you freak out–if you have really, really good eggs, it actually doesn’t take that long for the eggs to get peaky, and you can feel the eggs get to that stage of ultimate perfection. Combine the buttermilk/oil/egg yolk mixture with the dry ingredients, and then fold the combination into the egg yolks.

Voila! Your batter is done. Now you need to cook it in a waffle iron. I use a 1/3 cup measure to dollop it in, and leave a little room around the edges for the waffle to expand.

The one danger of this recipe is that if you open the waffle iron before the waffle is cooked through, the waffle will split–even with a supposedly non-stick iron–and that makes a mess and isn’t fun for anyone. A second danger is that if you have a waffle iron that beeps when the waffles are supposedly done, it judges “doneness” very poorly with this recipe (and other whole wheat recipes). You can tell when the waffle is done by the amount of steam that comes from the iron: too much, and it’s not still cooking; wait until you have only a few curls of steam.

It helps to have a very, very hot iron: most waffle irons will tell you they’re ready to be used when they could stand to heat up for another few minutes.


Courtney Milan writes historical romances, which might lead people to think that she could be cool. In reality, she's about four different kinds of geeky. At present, this blog is where Courtney applies semi-dormant geek skills to publishing.