I’m always on the lookout for different ways to use my sourdough (wild yeast) starter to keep things interesting. Not that there’s anything wrong with making the same bread week after week! I never get sick of eating my favorite Japanese Milk Bread.
I was intrigued by this recipe I came across for Old-Fashioned Maine Sourdough Waffles by King Arthur Flour. Using yeast in waffles is nothing new. Belgian waffles use yeast. Not the fluffy-big-square-pockets type but the Liège-style waffles where it’s slightly dense but flaky and has crunchy pearl sugar in it. So wonderful…drool… Anyway, that is not what we have here. These sourdough waffles are fluffy waffles but leavened with yeast. And with a sourdough starter! King Arthur Flour claims the “flavor is hearty enough to make a good match with savory toppings.” You caught my attention!
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Any recipe using sourdough starter is going to take time and this is no exception. This recipe mixes equal parts (by volume, not weight) all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, buttermilk, and sugar with the unfed sourdough starter or discard. Then you let it sit overnight at room temperature.
After the starter is bubbly from sitting overnight, eggs, melted butter or vegetable oil (I used canola oil), salt, and baking soda are added and mixed in. The directions simply say “Stir into the starter; it will immediately start to form bubbles.” I was a little worried at first about over-mixing, but to my surprise it did bubble up and stay pretty voluminous. It must be the baking soda kicking in with the acid in the sourdough starter.
Then, it’s pouring the batter into the waffle iron and that’s it! A word about waffle irons: I used a stove-top cast iron waffle maker that I bought as an antique and have used for years and years. I however grew up with electric waffle makers and remember them as being a pain to clean, breaking easily, taking up a lot of counter or cupboard space, and requiring a non-stick spray. I don’t know about you but as a kid I absolutely HATED the taste of non-stick spray. I vowed that I would never use non-stick spray, and to this day decades later, I have not ever used non-stick spray. A nice seasoned cast-iron waffle iron will serve you very well, but if you are looking to get an electric one, I would definitely recommend one that flips. It evenly distributes the batter and makes for a nice fluffy waffle.
As for the taste of these sourdough waffles, I instantly got a nice nutty flavor, probably from the whole wheat flour, and there definitely is a “slight tang” as King Arthur Flour describes it. The texture is also bouncier for lack of a better description. It’s not as airy as a baking powder waffle, but it’s not dense or rubbery either. It was pleasantly soft with a little resistance. Again, bouncy. Can’t explain it. I may be a new convert to these yeast-leavened waffles!