I like food. Starchy, satisfying food like cookies and cornbread, bagels and cupcakes, pizza and pasta and pretty much anything from the hallowed halls of the La Brea Bakery.
Recommend this product?
The waffle, however, has always eluded me. As a vehicle for butter and syrup, it can't be beat, but as a breakfast item, it pales next to the Denny's Slam, most varieties of which can be further enhanced by the addition of buttered rye toast. And if you're a real carbo devoteé, you know it's a lot harder to screw up rye toast than it is a waffle... especially at Denny's.
Variable quality aside, the home-pressed waffle presents an additional set of annoyances, chief among them the purchase of an otherwise-useless item that is hard to store and worse to clean.
As the proud co-owner of the Proctor-Silex Morning Baker, all that has changed: I have planted my newly-expanded posterior firmly in the pro-waffle camp, enjoying crisp, light, heavenly waffles night and day. (Hey, why limit your syrup consumption to bankers' hours?)
The question is, which is responsible for my conversion—the outstanding features of the Proctor-Silex Morning Baker or the prowess of my own, private Morning Baker (who also does not limit his efforts to bankers' hours)? After all, I have had experience with other waffle makers and other—er, "Morning Bakers" and have never before been swept away in a wave of waffle ecstasy. Was my former aversion to waffles a matter of machine failure, operator error or sheer caprice?
Part One: The Equipment
Well, let's examine. The Proctor-Silex Morning Baker heats quickly and evenly, has two non-stick surfaces and a convenient ready light to let one know when the iron is heated to optimum temperature for batter insertion. My previous Morning Baker's implement (you'll pardon the expression) heated quickly and evenly, had two non-stick surfaces and a ready light that did the exact same thing.
Both machines purport to make "Belgian"-style waffles—at their best, deeply creviced waffles with a crispy exterior and a light, fluffy interior. (The Proctor-Silex makes round waffles; the other implement, the more traditional, square, "Belgian" shape, but I hardly think right angles have a bearing on taste.)
The key difference is one of texture. While both machines turned out waffles with the requisite golden, crispy exterior, the Proctor-Silex Morning Baker really delivered on the light-'n'-airy middle; the other waffle-iron's interiors tended more toward the dense-'n'-heavy end of the spectrum.
Part Two: The Operator
Being a creative type, I'm attracted to other creative types. The spontaneous and improvisatory nature of such folk has lead to some delightful surprises, like cayenne-garlic popcorn and hummus with half-sour pickles, tomatoes and olives. It has also lead to red pancakes, fish omelets and a Mulligan stew made with three types of canned food and nacho-flavored tortilla chips.
Given my Morning Bakers' penchant for experimentation, the wide variance in waffle taste and texture seems rather obvious. Further consultation with my sister, the pastry chef, led me to the following conclusion—as long as the thing heats evenly, it's not the thing itself. It's the batter, stupid.
Part Three: The Ingredients
Other than making your own batter from scratch (as if), I would recommend the curiously named Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix. You Bisquick diehards may shake your heads and grumble, but all-purpose baking mix is a lot like one-size-fits-all pantyhose—a pipe dream concocted by overeager marketers.
The next step toward light 'n' fluffy waffles (and buttermilk pancakes) is the replacement of some-to-all of the liquid called for with sparkling water. This hypothesis has been confirmed by my sister, the pastry chef, who has more than a passing familiarity with batter. Soda water (or a pinch of soda, itself, in a pinch) leavens waffles.
Part Four: The Pitch
The waffle iron is hardly a kitchen necessity. As such, it should know its place and that place should be as small as possible. The Proctor-Silex Morning Baker stands less than a foot tall and three inches across at its widest... and it stands. As far as I'm concerned, upright storage is price of entry in the waffle iron market.
Speaking of which, the Proctor-Silex Morning Baker is priced at $40, but at cyberrebate.com, I was able to pick one up for a rock-bottom ten bucks, with free shipping. For that price, I can afford the real maple syrup a good waffle deserves.
The only drawback to the Proctor-Silex Morning Baker is clean up. Those non-stick interiors release the waffle, but there's still a great deal of residual oily goo to wipe away post-pressing.
But that's a job for your own Morning Baker...
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