It is definitely fall: shorter days, cooler nights, a brisk crispness in the air. Last night there were drifting wisps of fog and a big moon, but the air was balmy as I walked my two miles home from the closest bus stop. I got up early this morning — it doesn’t matter how late I get to sleep, I will wake in the morning when the light changes — wrote for half an hour and checked emails. Then I got back under a big pile of autumn covers, talked to Johnny on the phone for awhile.
When I got up the second time, it was time to make breakfast and the first thing I thought of was gingerbread waffles. Fall flavors have been creeping into our menus — we had our first pumpkin pie of the season and a butternut squash waits on the counter for me to make my signature squash soup with ginger and thyme. I keep a big binder of clipped recipes and turned to the waffle section, taking out the plastic-enclosed recipe.
I often don’t include anything extra in news clippings, saving space and just keeping the recipe, but at the bottom of the column in tiny type this clipping says “Adapted from ‘Waffles from Morning to Midnight’ by Dorie Greenspan.” I present to you an adaptation of an adaptation: I couldn’t make this recipe without taking the chance to throw in half a cup of my neglected sourdough starter and without incorporating a quarter cup of whole wheat flour for depth, texture and health benefits — surely there despite the half stick of melted butter, three-quarters cup of brown sugar and the maple syrup I drizzled on top. I also doubled the eggs.
Sourdough Gingerbread Waffles.
Measure into a large bowl:
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup buttermilk
Separate four large eggs, putting the whites into a small mixing bowl and adding the yoiks to the buttermilk-molasses-starter mixture.
Melt 1/2 stick butter (I used salted and omitted salt in the recipe. If you use unsalted you may want to add 1/4 tsp kosher salt to your dry ingredients)
Beat the egg whites until stiff.
Then beat the molasses mixture just until combined.
Into a separate bowl, measure and whisk together:
1 and 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Fold dry ingredients into molasses mixture until just blended.
Add melted butter and stir until combined
Fold in egg whites — batter should be streaky, not uniform in color.
Preheat waffle iron and prepare toppings: I melted some butter, sliced some peaches and heated some maple syrup. Tomorrow I will probably serve them with blackberries, fresh peaches and figs. Cook waffles according to the directions for your waffle maker.
Food notes: if you don’t have sourdough starter, omit it and increase buttermilk to 1 and 1/2 cups. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use yogurt instead, or use regular sweet milk and eliminate the baking soda in the recipe. Or you can use 1/4 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar to sour your milk and proceed with the recipe as written. If you have whole wheat pastry flour you can substitute 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for 1 cup of unbleached flour: in that case, eliminate the regular whole wheat flour and use 1 cup of unbleached and 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour. Serve waffles with whatever floats your boat: bacon, pears and blueberries (a la local restaurant La Note), fruit syrup, jam, cinnamon sugar, pecans and whipped cream.