The First “Waffle”: Experiment #1
I recently purchased a new waffle iron just so I could work on some of the earliest waffle recipes ever written. My American-style “Belgian” iron and Liège iron were far too deep for the old recipes, which were cooked in irons with shallower depths, closer to 13mm/0.5in than those deeper styles that arose in the mid-19th century. Of particular interest to me is the first English waffle recipe written in 1725 by Robert Smith for his cookbook, Court Cookery.
The original recipe is, unfortunately, short on measurements, to the point of having none: “Waffles. Take Flower, Cream, Sack, Nutmeg, Sugar, Eggs, Yest, of what Quantity you will; mix these to a Batter, and let them stand to rise; then add a little melted Butter, and bake one to try; if they burn, add more Butter: Melt Butter, with Sack, refin’d Sugar, and Orange-Flower Water, for the Sauce.”
Below is a first pass at recreating the recipe. I have a feeling it will be relatively finicky, as mixing “Sack” (the antiquated terms for Sherry) with yeast could kill the yeast + using only cream and no milk has the potential to make a very fatty waffle. Being delicate with the proportions is key. So I’m going to break the first mix into two stages, just to give the yeast a chance to thrive, before the Sherry is woven in.
makes 3 round 13mm/0.5in waffles
Prepared at standard room temperature ~21°C/70°F
1. Mix the flour and ale yeast in a medium bowl.
2. Add the cream and stir to blend.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
4. Add the flour, sugar,nutmeg, egg, butter, and cream to the yeast mixture. Add ~30g of the Sherry, too. Mix to blend.
5. Add the remaining Sherry and finish blending the ingredients.
6. Cover again with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours.
Before the final rest in Step #6 is almost done, heat your waffle iron to 196°C/385°F.
7. Pour the mix into the preheated iron and cook until steaming slows.
Remove the waffle from the iron and place on a wire rack to cool. When the waffle has cooled below 49°C/120°F, place the waffle back into the iron to cook for 10 seconds longer. Serve immediately.