Tag Archives: buttermilk

Waffles: An Invitation to Dinner

When I mentioned on line that I followed my mother’s tradition of making a main course of apple dumplings  (with or without a side dish of cold cuts and cheese slices), friends on social media wanted to come to my house for dinner.  So how would you like an Invitation to dinner with a main course of waffles?

waffles for dinner

Waffles for dinner with knockwurst and syrup

After talking about Waffle Iron Cookies, it occurred to me that I have never talked about making waffles–a mainstay on most of my grandmother’s tables and mine.  If you think of waffles only as a breakfast food, you’re missing a base for an easy meal that is good any time and highly flexible.

A Bit of History

The history of waffles on the Mental Floss website reveals some things you might not have known and some tools you may never have seen. From Belgian waffles to frozen Eggos, waffles kept growing in popularity. Thomas Jefferson, a real conoisseur of good food, brought not one but four waffle irons home from Holland. And if you’re daring, follow the link from the waffle history article to a book that includes a description of a “wafle-frolic” in Colonial New York state.

Mental Floss tells us that the first waffle mix was marketed in 1889, and the first electric waffle iron was marketed by General Electric in 1918. By the 1950s and 60s when my mother bought this little waffle iron, waffles were taken for granted.

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Toastmaster Waffle Iron

Make Your Own Waffles

Although there are simple one-egg recipes that do not call for separating the eggs and beating the egg whites, I have tried many waffle recipes and am convinced that separated eggs make a big difference in light and crispy waffles.  I also like to use buttermilk, but for those who don’t like buttermilk (here’s looking at my sister, Paula) I have included two recipes here–one with plain milk.

The plain milk recipe comes from an interesting little cookbook I picked up second hand. I love hand written recipes. I also love notes found in old books. So this book brings the best of both those quirky loves. It is called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller’s Collection of Curous and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages. The title says it all.  He reproduces the handwritten recipes and transcribes them with a few notes.  He also shows us what book the handwritten and forgotten recipe was stuck inside.

Waffle Iron and Recipe Book

Waffle iron and recipe book.

Just as some old recipe books start with things like “First catch a rabbit,”  the first step in a waffle recipe might need to be


This is mine, a mid-century Toastmaster brand 8″ round waffle iron inherited from my mother. It has a chrome finish, a non-stick interior and bakelite handles and dial.

waffle iron and recipe

Waffle iron open and recipe

Although I have never greased it before use, waffles never stick and the non-stick finish has not peeled or cracked.

The Waffle Recipes and a Helpful Hint

The anonymous person who wrote the recipe in the “Handwritten Recipes” book, included on her recipe note, instructions on keeping the waffle iron clean. and a “formula.”


2 tablespoons baking soda

1 teaspoon water

Brush iron grids. Do not do this often. Never wash grid after cooking as it sticks.

These two recipes–with plain milk or with buttermilk–use basically the same ingredients. However, please note the difference in amounts of baking powder and the addition of baking soda in the buttermilk recipe. When baking with buttermilk, it is necessary to substitute baking soda for at least part of the baking powder.

Why did Mrs. Anonymous call her waffles “Universal Waffles?” Probably because it is the recipe that came with her waffle maker, a Universal brand.

Universal Waffles

Serves 4
From book Handwritten Recipes by Michael Popek
A hand written recipe found by the author of Handwritten Recipes in a 1940-era cookbook, makes a waffle that is hard to improve on.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons butter (Melted)


1. Preheat waffle iron.
2. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl
3. Beat yolks of eggs well into milk [beat in melted butter]. Add a little at a time [to dry ingredients] stirring until perfectly smooth.
4. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.


This recipe comes from a book called Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller's Collection of Curioius and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages.

Although the recipe's author says it feeds four, the book's author questions that, and I tend to agree.  As a side dish with a lot of other things on the table, maybe.  In my small round waffle iron, this recipe made five 7-inch waffles.

The person who wrote the recipe suggested adding the butter into the batter after adding the milk and egg.  I have changed it to adding melted butter into the milk and egg mixture because I think the butter blends better that way. [brackets in the instructions indicate my additions to the written recipe.]

The handwritten recipe card also contains a valuable hint on cleaning the waffle iron.

Do not clean with soap and water.  Instead, just brush off the crumbs.  Every few uses, you may clean with a paste made of 2 tablespoons baking powder and one teaspoon of water, which is rubbed on and brushed off.

My favorite buttermilk waffle recipe is adapted from Joy of Cooking.

Buttermilk Waffles

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk, Wheat
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (separated)
  • 6 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1 3/4 cup buttermilk


1. Heat oven to 250, if you are going to keep waffles warm before serving. Heat waffle iron. Melt butter.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl
3. Separate eggs, and put egg yolks in small bowl
4. Whisk buttermilk into eggs
5. Slowly pour melted butter into buttermilk/egg mixture.
6. Add the liquid ingredients to flour mixture and stir as short a time as possible--just until dry ingredients are blended in.
7. In separate, clean bowl, beat egg whites until firm but not dry and fold into the other ingredients.
8. Spoon batter (which will be thick) into hot waffle iron, not filling to edges. When you close lid, it will smooth out to full layer. Follow manufacturer directions for length of cooking time. (The 7" round waffle iron I use takes 5-6 minutes per waffle.)
9. You can keep waffles on a rack in a 250 degree oven until all are baked. If you have leftovers, see notes below.


If you have never made waffles before, you need to learn how much batter to put in the waffle iron.  It probably takes less than you think it will need, so go easy with the first one until you figure it out.  Your waffle iron may come with instructions about amount of batter to use, and how long to bake the waffle.

You can add many ingredients to waffles to make the sweet or savory.  I like to add grated cheese or grated apples or blueberries.

Serve with butter to melt into the hot waffles, and syrup or applesauce to fill up the indentations.

Bacon or sausage or eggs go well with waffles.

This has been my response to the challenge of the week from 52 Ancestors  “Invitation to Dinner.”

Better Buckwheat pancakes

When I first posted information about buckwheat and a recipe for buckwheat pancakes, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the different ways that people make them.  Not even counting the possible add-ins like apples, bananas, nuts, berries and even chocolate chips. You may want to read (or re-read) that earlier post for more information on Buckwheat.

This picture shows how the thin pancakes made with that original recipe turned out.

buckwheat pancakes

The originally posted recipe, cooking and cooked.

Since my goal here is historical accuracy and channeling my ancestors, I wanted to come as close as possible to the buckwheat pancakes made by our German ancestors, particularly my paternal grandmother.

I posted a recipe that was an amalgam of some I had read on the Internet along with Joy of Cooking’s version of buckwheat cakes. The result turned out much thinner than I expected. The picture above is the real result.

Then my brother left a comment.

My father told me about how his mother kept a batch of buckwheat starter, that is, somewhat fermented with yeast…lasting for years. I have tasted buckwheat pancakes made with yeasted buckwheat. They had all the unique goodness you mention in regular buckwheat but included a distinct tanginess (a bit like that of hard cider). Domestic store-bought buckwheat, though good, lacks personality compared to this slightly tipsy version. (Bob’s Red Mill brand has produced a non-gluten buckwheat pancake mix.) I guess the only way to get a nostalgic re-taste is for us to start our own immortal batch in memory of our “ancestors in aprons.

To make a starter, I would need yeast, but I had one more buttermilk recipe to try first. (I promise I’ll get to the yeast version one of these days, I promise, Grandma Kaser.)

This recipe, labeled “Old Fashioned Buckwheat Cakes” was on the site Spark People, but I am not able to find it again.  It is similar to the recipe I posted before, but enough different to make a BIG difference.  The previous recipe used only baking soda (no baking powder) because baking powder did not come into use until the Civil War period, so Colonials would not have cooked with it.  But since my father was remembering pancakes made in the early 20th century, his mother would have had baking powder.

buckwheat pancakes

Buckwheat pancakes in iron skillet.

That makes a big difference.  The previous recipe combines buttermilk, baking soda and egg for leavening.  This new one not only is gluten free because it uses no flour other than buckwheat, and it has no egg, good for people with egg allergies. [NOTE: Check ingredients. Some products labeled buckwheat do contain some amount of wheat flour! ]  Without the egg, it still turns out much lighter than the other one, which tended to be thinner, like a crepe, (which of course is closely related.)

So I urge you to  try this delicious buckwheat pancake.

Buckwheat Pancakes – The Real Deal

Serves 4-5
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Milk
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Breakfast
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Serve Hot
Region European


  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup water (warm but not hot)
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (dissolved in 1/4 C water)
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease ((or substitute softened butter)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses


1. Start the night before you want the pancakes, and mix the buckwheat flour, buttermilk and warm water. Store, (covered with a towel) in the refrigerator overnight.
2. When you are ready to make the cakes, you may want to fry some bacon first, both to eat with the pancakes, and to give you 1 Tablespoon of bacon grease to use in the batter.
3. In small bowl, dissolve 1 tsp baking soda in 1/4 cup water. Add 2 Tablespoons baking powder, bacon grease and molasses. Remove the buckwheat mixture from the refrigerator and stir in the additional ingredients. Set aside, covered loosely, at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour.
4. Heat a griddle or iron skillet hot, greasing it very lightly with bacon grease or vegetable oil. (I pour in some oil, then blot it with a towel. I can use the towel to wipe across the skillet before I bake the additional pancakes.) The skillet should be hot enough that a drop of water will immediately evaporate.
5. Cook the pancakes, about 1/4 C of batter at a time, being careful they do not burn before turning. (If you are used to looking for bubbles to indicate when they are ready to turn, they do not behave the same way as other bancakes, and they cook very quickly.)
6. Serve hot with butter and syrup or blueberry jam,


I originally saw this recipe on a site called sparkpeople, but I am unable to relocate it. I recall that it was referred to as Old Fashioned Soured Buckwheat Cakes, and was unique in that it did not add cornmeal or wheat flour and used no egg. Also, it relies on the buttermilk for the original rising rather than yeast.

Don't stint on the overnight step OR on the half hour to rest after you add the baking soda and baking powder.