Archive for the ‘Ingredients’ Category

I’ve been scanning other pumpkin recipes online and taking a look at what people have to say about them. One consistent comment is something along the lines of,  “they’re not crispy like a waffle’s supposed to be.” I laugh when I see that because pumpkin is notorious for rendering anything it’s in fairly chewy; it’s a product of the fiber in the pumpkin, and it’s generally considered a very desirable property. While there are ways to make baked goods crispy, when using pumpkin puree, that generally required either a lot of sugar, a lot of fat, high temperatures, or limited use of the puree . . . or a combination of two or more of these factors.

However, there should be a way to make crisp pumpkin waffles with pumpkin puree . . . just remove the fiber. Basically, we need to extract the juice and leave the fiber behind. You can do this by juicing an actual pumpkin in a juicer or by putting a bunch of puree in a clean towel/cheesecloth and squeezing out the juice.

Here’s a recipe I’ve heavily adapted from this finecooking.com regular waffle formula that I think will get us that crispy pumpkin waffle. I’ll let you know how it goes…

  • 160g all-purpose flour
  • 28g cornstarch
  • 25g light brown sugar
  • 3.0g salt
  • 4.8g baking powder
  • 2.4g baking soda
  • 2.3g salt
  • 3.0g cinnamon
    3.5g ginger
    0.5g cloves
    0.6g freshly grated nutmeg
  • 240g buttermilk
  • 160g pumpkin juice
  • 112g unsalted butter, melted and warm
  • 2 large eggs, separated with white beaten

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Your only concern with the butter in your pumpkin waffles is that it should be fresh and unsalted. Whether it’s an everyday variety, handmade, or European style, it will provide much-needed fat and moisture to the final product.

Even though the exact type isn’t that important, I still vascillate between a few brands. My general preference is for Straus’s Organic European Style. It’s made in an old-fashioned 1950’s butter churn and has 85% butterfat content plus extremely low moisture levels. Because of the low moisture content, it doesn’t burn as quickly as other butters. And, really, by the transitive property of marketing, if special butter = special waffles, then special waffles = the person eating the waffles is awesome. So why not spend an extra $1 or two on butter in the fancy blue package?

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Pumpkin waffle batter is dense, so whipped egg whites are used to lighten the texture and provide some loft beyond what’s achieved by the addition of baking soda/powder.

The ideal is to whip the whites to the stiff peak stage.  That allows them to be firm enough to withstand incorporation into the batter.  But getting them to the perfect point can be a challenge, as there’s a delicate balance between the stiff peak stage and whites that begin to curdle.  So as soon as you begin to get glossy undulating waves and ripples in your whites, it’s time to pull the beater(s) out.  Check out the photo below for a good visual of how far I take the beating, or check out this egg white whipping video for a great lesson on how to whip to perfection.

And, once you start working the whipped whites into the batter, it’s crucial to carefully fold them in.  Stirring would quickly crush their air pockets, so you want to slowly scoop from the bottom of the batter and fold that batter over the top of the whites.  The final batter is ready when no white bits are obvious.  If you continue to mix beyond that point, you’re only going to make the waffles progressively tougher and more dense.

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Flour selection is crucial for any baking endeavor. The main concern is using the one with the appropriate protein content for the dish you’re preparing. I have 2 brands of all-purpose flour, 2 cake flours, and 3 bread flours in my pantry at all times. Each has a specific use in recipes I’ve worked on; some recipes even require a mixture of two flours.

When it comes to my pumpkin waffles, I prefer a fairly high protein all-purpose flour. Since there’s so much pureed pumpkin in the mix, and since that has little structure-forming protein, a high protein flour is needed to offset its effects. Ultimately, it helps maintain a solid structure and substantial mouth-feel. Given that most all purpose flours have such low protein content, the only option, though fortunately high quality, is King Arthur Organic All-Purpose. It has a protein content of about 11.8%. When I’ve experimented with Gold Medal and Pillsbury, flours with about 10.5% protein, the waffles turned out somewhat mushy. Hodgson Mill has an even lower protein content, so it’s definitely not a good choice.

King Arthur All-Purpose comes in two varieties – regular and organic. Technically, the regular variety has 11.7% protein, but it’s interchangeable with the organic blend.

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Years ago, I discovered the superiority of fresh nutmeg to dried nutmeg, while working on perfecting my gingerbread recipe. It seems like they’d be interchangeable, but it’s truly a world of difference to use it fresh.

The issue is that the process of making dried nutmeg greatly diminishes many of the highly volatile oils it contains. While those oils only make up about 10% of a whole nutmeg’s mass, they make up the bulk of the flavor. Its two main oils are camphor and pinene, which produce its medicinal and pine scents, respectively. By grating the whole nutmeg yourself (with a microplane), you ensure that the nutmeg you’re using has all of its natural flavors intact and in the right proportions to one another.

Freshly grated, nutmeg is fairly fluffy and slightly moist, making it difficult to measure. My ridiculously precise metric pumpkin waffle recipe calls for 0.6g, which works out to 1 tsp. loosely scooped into a measuring spoon. If you measure nutmeg by pressing it into the spoon, then that same quantity works out to a little less than 1/2 tsp. With nutmeg, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. It’s a delicious spice, but extremely potent, so if you’re unsure about how much to use, go for less. You can always scale-up the quantity next time around.

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