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Marion Cunningham's Yeast-Raised Waffles

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(Oh dear. This is awkward. I think I'm going to write this entire post in parentheses. You know, to mitigate the awkwardness. If it's in parentheses, then it's still sort of just a thought in my head and not an entirely un-take-back-able statement. Right? I don't know. Lord help me.)

(So here's what happened. Last week, Russ Parsons published this article in the Los Angeles Times about waffles. Goodness knows we are a waffle-friendly household. And since there is no other waffle more talked about than Marion Cunningham's yeast-raised waffle (am I wrong?), I was quite excited to try my hand at this legendary recipe.)

(You make a batter with active dry yeast and let it ferment overnight in the fridge. But I didn't get started until early Sunday morning - on Saturday, we were too busy looking at apartments out in faraway neighborhoods and getting into arguments about where we should live and how much we should pay and, oh, the joys of New York City living, they really are such a pleasure - so I let the batter ferment on my kitchen counter top for an hour or two instead. It doubled in size and smelled deliciously yeasty and had all these appealing bubbles and a gorgeous foamy top. Very promising, indeed - as was that one place out in Forest Hills, the one I can't stop thinking about and, holy hell, does that mean we should take it, help me, readers, help me.)

(I heated up the waffle iron and we debated the merits of Bak-Kleene versus melted butter, but it turned out that neither was really that necessary. My non-stick waffle iron performed like a champ, spitting out waffles with nary a sticking corner in sight. It was impressive. Less impressive, however, were (gulp, double gulp) the waffles.)

(Did I actually just say that out loud?)

(...)

(For starters, the waffles, while crisp and browned on the bottom, were flabby and a pallid, yellowish hue on top. Also, their insides were a little too batter-y. And lastly, they were buttery to the point of greasiness.)

(We ate the first round in silence, chewing carefully. Ben tentatively ventured that they might not be the best waffles we'd ever made. With the second round, I tried flipping the waffles in the iron in the hopes that the pale, yellow side might get a little toastier. Hardly. With the third and fourth batch, I overfilled the iron, which resulted in the delicate lacy waffle you see in the photograph. The underside, however, still looked totally under-baked. The taste was better now, though, and Ben made the good point that the warm syrup-doused waffles tasted like French toast - it must have been the yeast, I think. I still found them far too buttery for my taste. Unpleasantly heavy, they sat in my stomach while I pondered the impossible.)

(Could it be that I didn't like the world's most beloved waffle? Would anyone still take me seriously after this? What on earth would become of me?)

(It's not really clear. We spent the rest of the day calculating rent budgets and train passes, imagining life in a spacious 2-bedroom apartment with leafy tree-tops instead of air shafts for a view, and weekends spent strolling down the West Side Highway. Which made me think - if there's room in this city for all the different folks we saw out yesterday, there must also be room for li'l ol' yeasted-waffle-disliking me. Right? Oh, pretty please!)

Yeast-Raised Waffles
Makes 16 waffles

1 package active dry yeast
2 cups milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1. Place one-half cup warm water in a large mixing bowl (the batter will double in volume) and sprinkle in the yeast. When dissolved, stir in the milk, butter, salt, sugar, flour and eggs and beat until smooth and blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

2. Just before cooking the waffles, beat in the baking soda. The batter will deflate and become about as thin as soft yogurt. Cook the waffles according to the manufacturer's instructions for your waffle maker. Serve with maple syrup.

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