Great waffles boast a crisp honeycombed surface and a tender, moist interior. One of the best ways to get there is with a yeast batter, an idea popularized by Fannie Farmer in her original 1896 cookbook and closely associated today with the delightful Marion Cunningham, who now updates Farmer’s book. Many cooks shy away from yeast batters and doughs, but they are worth a little extra time for the complexity they add to taste. As with our buckwheat pancakes, you start the evening before with a couple of quick steps. The yeast does the real work overnight, producing a fine, ready-to-use batter by the morning.
Game plan: Some people think of waffles as difficult to get right but you can succeed every time by following a few basic principles.
Relatively thick, homemade batters make better waffles than thin batters from mixes because they foster the desirable combination of internal moistness and external crispness. Spread the batter on the waffle iron evenly with the kind of spatula you use for frosting a cake.
Even with a nonstick waffle iron, it’s best to oil the surface before cooking and then again after preparing every second or third waffle in a batch. It gives extra insurance that the waffles won’t stick and helps promote browning and crispness.
Cook the waffles long enough to get a truly crisp surface, which may be a little longer than your iron’s doneness indicator suggests. With our iron, for example, most waffles come out best when cooked for about 5 minutes, consistently 1 to 2 minutes longer than the manufacturer suggests.
Serve waffles one at a time, as they are ready, for the best texture and flavor. Otherwise hold them in a warm oven until all are done, but keep the time to a minimum.