Now That You’ve Rounded Up Your Waffle Iron and Whetted Your Appetite, Weren’t You Wishing You Could Serve Those Yummy Restaurant-style Sourdough Waffles at Home?
Yesterday, when writing about waffles and those cool “flip style” waffle makers so many motels now feature in their breakfast rooms — the ones that produce those really crispy, thick Belgian waffles — I also started thinking about the waffle batter they provide for those ubiquitous free continental breakfasts…
If you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy those hotel waffles, you know the batter is generally provided in Styrofoam cups, which conveniently measure out the appropriate amount of batter for one waffle. And the batter is a thick, bubbly, yeasty concoction, redolent of sourdough…
I Used to Suspect it Wasn’t Really Truly Sourdough Batter
But I’ve changed my mind, now that I’ve just read that sourdough starter can actually be frozen. That makes sense, as it’d make daily setup pretty easy for the motel management…)
Meanwhile, as I was thinking about how I might be able to bring you a recipe for THOSE exact waffles, I searched the deep recesses of my brain, and came up with a memory that’s an “oldie but goodie” from my “earth mother days of yore”… Maybe you remember it too?
Yep. Herman was that sourdough starter everyone shared with their friends, back in the 70s. If you’re a true Baby Boomer, you’ve either nurtured your very own batch of Herman – possibly for years – or you’ve dined on “friendship bread,” bread, pizza, coffeecake or pancakes made with a Herman sourdough starter.
Because the thing is, once you accepted a Herman starter, you were pretty much committed to feeding your Herman, and keeping it going.
Good thing I’ve lost track of Chris B., the dear friend who gave me my Herman starter eons ago, when we were both young women recently transplanted to Iowa. I’d hate to have to tell her I lost track of it over twenty years ago! (Then again, she probably doesn’t have hers anymore, either!!)
Think About That “Sourdough Starter” Process For a Moment… If You Recall, It Required Regular Attention:
- Most sourdough (and Herman) recipes required one cup of “fed” sourdough starter.
- Which meant you had to plan ahead, to get the starter “fed” and keep it growing.
- So, up to twelve hours before beginning a recipe – essentially the night before – you’d stir the starter and remove your cup of bubbly goodness.
- The cup you removed was what you would use to make your product.
- Then you added more flour and water to the remaining starter, to replace what you’d removed.
- And the starter required maintenance, so if you weren’t going to bake something with the starter, your alternative was to give it to a friend, or throw it away…
- However you did it, your goal was to get rid of one cup of starter on a regular basis — at least once a month — so you could feed the rest and keep it lively without ending up with a house full of yeasty-smelling starter.
The Whole Sourdough Tending Process Sort of Reminds Me of Child-rearing…
But, like raising kids, it’s all worth it if you have a good starter. And the amazing thing is, there are actually people who are fortunate enough to have access to 150 year old sourdough starter. Which takes us back to the heyday of sourdough, the Gold Rush days!
If you’d like to make sourdough waffles and you don’t have access to any historic sourdough starter, here’s a recipe for making your own. This isn’t “Herman,” which is a sweeter and more “tempermental” starter that includes milk and a fair amount of sugar… But this is a good basic sourdough starter:
2 cups warm water, separated (water you’ve used to boil potatoes is traditional, but tap water works fine)
1 tablespoon fresh active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups unbleached flour (separated)
Pour 1 cup warm water (105°-115°, no more) into a non-metal or glass bowl or jar, sprinkle yeast over it, mix, and let stand a few minutes until yeast dissolves. Add the sugar and 1 cup of flour. Mix. Let the starter sit on the counter (room temperature of 70-80° F) for 5 days (uncovered, or draped with cheesecloth, if you can’t stand to leave it completely uncovered). Your goal with leaving this out is to allow the natural yeasts that exist in the air get into the yeast sponge. Stir this mixture daily. When ready, the mixture will be bubbly and a little frothy, and smell nicely sour. If bubbles have not started forming after 24 hours, though, start again. Your water may have been too hot, or your yeast not fresh and active. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
On the 5th day feed the starter with the remaining cup of flour and water.
Stir and loosely cover the starter again.
Your starter will be ready to use on the 6th day.
Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter:
- Once you have successfully prepared the sourdough bread starter recipe, store it in the refrigerator, loosely covered, in your jar or other non-metal container. (They make crocks just for sourdough starter.)
- Replace the amount of starter you use. Most recipes call for 1 cup of starter; replenish it by adding 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup warm water to the remaining starter. Return it to the refrigerator. Should you need more starter, add the flour and water first, and let it ferment for 24 hours, (or at least for 12 hours).
- Sooner or later a dark liquid will collect atop your starter. This is called the hooch. Just stir it in. It’s a good thing.
Sourdough starter can be refrigerated indefinitely, but works best if you get it out and use some of it periodically, while you feed the rest.
And why not? That’s what you made if for, right?
- Now that you have a recipe for sourdough starter, here’s a link to a sourdough waffle recipe, which comes from King Arthur Flour.
- Be sure to check out this post, as it has loads of great photos, to make the whole sourdough waffle-making process really easy for you!
- If you’re a Food Network fan, here’s a link to video with Alton Brown talking about his method for making waffles
- And a final link, to Alton’s preferred machine for making waffles. (Gotta love that Alton Brown!)