I think by now it’s no secret that breakfast is perhaps my favorite meal of the day. Aside from the nutritional aspect of breakfast (I’m always hungry in the morning, quite ravenous, really), the meal most tout as the most important to get metabolism rolling, yada yada, one of my personal favorite parts of the meal is its easy ability to pass off what may resemble a pastry or sweet as something quite reasonable to consume in the a.m. hours. (Ahem, see coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, scones…)But I try to reconcile these two elements, nutrition and deliciousness, that are so often at odds with each other, yet shouldn’t be at breakfast. Sometimes I want something that sways more nutritious, sometimes something that is unabashedly delicious, but I love when I can get both, as in these waffles. They aren’t the epitome of health, but the addition of oat bran and oat flour boosts the nutritional aspects. I know, I know. “You want me to put oat bran and oat flour in my waffles?! Uh, no thanks.” Don’t run! These are so far from dense cardboard. The oat bran is hardly detectible in the waffles, and the oat flour lends an almost sweet, mild flavor that echoes the sweetness of the maple syrup.
So although these maple oat waffles caught my eye because they looked more nutritious than the average waffle, they caught my taste buds because they’re actually more delicious.
Maple Oat Waffles
barely adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
Aha, now you can have your maple syrup in your waffles! Yet I still like to have some atop the waffles too. Yum.
3 tablespoons butter, melted, for the waffle iron
1/2 cup oat bran
1 cup oat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups cold whole milk, separated
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B, which is darker and deeper and will impart a stronger flavor)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1. Heat the waffle iron to its highest setting. These waffles are best (hello caramelized, crispy edges) when cooked at high heat.
2. Put the oat bran into a small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of milk to just under a boil. Add the hot milk to the oat bran and stir to combine. Set aside.
3. Sift the rest of the dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, and salt) into a large bowl, dumping back any ingredients that remain in the sifter into the bowl.
4. Put the egg whites into the clean bowl of a standing mixer and the yolks into a separate medium bowl. Whisk the maple syrup and vanilla into the egg yolks until thoroughly combined.
5. Stir the remaining 1 cup of milk into the oat bran—the cold milk will cool off any residual heat from the bran. Stir the oat mixture into the maple syrup mixture to combine.
6. Using a spatula, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. The batter will still have fine lumps throughout; resist the urge to mix them in.
7. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and beat the egg whites on high speed. As they whip, they’ll become light and frothy and begin to increase in volume. Add 1 tablespoon sugar. Next, they will turn thick and very soft. Continue whipping until they are fluffy and glossy and hold their peaks, about 3 minutes total. (If they look cracked and mealy, you overwhipped them. Throw them out and start over.)
8. Gently fold half of the egg whites into the batter so as not to deflate the airy whites. Add the rest of the egg whites, and fold gently to combine. The egg whites should be entirely incorporated into the batter and the batter should be quite airy and light with small bubbles.
9. This light batter needs to be cooked on the waffle iron just as soon as you finish mixing it. It will deflate quickly (in the fridge or not) if left to sit.
10. Brush the waffle iron generously with the butter. Using a ladle or measuring cup, scoop about 1/2 cup of batter (depending on the size of your waffle iron) onto the spaces of the iron. Boyce says that the smell wafting from the iron starts out like a freshly kneaded loaf of bread, then becomes toasty. Remove the waffle when an indicator light shows that it is done, or when a quick peek shows that it has turned a deep golden-brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. My waffles are always done when the steaming stops. Carefully remove the hot waffles, and repeat with the remaining batter.
11. These waffles are best eaten hot, right off the iron. Boyce recommends a thin slab of butter melting on top and maybe a bit of jam. Maple syrup is also a fitting accompaniment.
12. These freeze and refrigerate decently well, although the crispy crust and freshness can never be mimicked.