The best (and only?) sourdough cornmeal waffle recipe ever

Dear reader,

Do you wish for a breakfast dish that is cheap and easy to prepare, makes your kitchen smell like Heaven’s own galley, and will make your guests’ jaws drop when they see it?  Then you are in luck!  Below, I give you my greatest culinary discovery to date.

As a bit of background, I’ve been making sourdough buckwheat waffles for a few years now, because they far surpass standard non-yeasty waffles in every way.  They have such a delicate, lacy, ethereal crispness on the outside, and an incredibly light yet moist interior, with a complex, nutty flavor throughout.  My mother describes them as “crispy air”.

Last night, I thought about how much I wanted some for breakfast this morning, but going out and getting buckwheat flour at the dreadful hour of 9 p.m. or something?  No way.  But I did happen to have some cornmeal, which I get from time to time in vain attempts to replicate my mother’s cornbread.  So I thought, okay, I’ll give that a shot.  Behold the (slightly blurry) result:


WOW.  I mean WOW.  Reader, I nearly wept.  The overnight sponge process made the cornmeal more tender and better hydrated than a standard cornbread or other quickbread preparation would have been, but it still had a wonderfully pleasing cragginess, and all the eggy, delicate, tender scrumptiousness of the interior was there from the buckwheat version.  Indeed, it was even better.  Cornmeal, as you no doubt know, has more sugar than buckwheat flour, so it caramelized even more handsomely and had a slightly roasty flavor.  And I find, perhaps because I grew up with buttermilk cornbread, I find that cornmeal has a particular affinity for tangy flavor profiles, which of course comes with the sourdough treatment.

Plus of course, it had that guileless, sunny corn quality that makes my peasant heart sing.

If you do have buckwheat flour and want to try that, just use buckwheat flour instead of the cornmeal and add a pinch of ginger.  You can do everything else the same, and you’ll end up with extreme deliciousness either way.  The corn-based batter tends to be a little thinner, but they both perform well.

Makes about three large Belgian waffles

  • 1/3 cup starter, straight from the fridge is ok
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal (medium grind, not corn flour)
  • 1 1/3 cup water

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp brown sugar, honey, etc. (not white sugar, it’s too bland)
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp neutral oil, such as canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • Scant 1/2 tsp salt
  • Tbsp hot water
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda

Stir together first four ingredients in a large bowl, cover lightly (like with a plate), and let set out overnight (6 to 10 hrs). It should puff up a little and smell yeasty.

Next morning, whisk together the next four ingredients in a small bowl, then lightly whisk them into the starter mixture. Turn on the waffle iron. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and fold it in to the batter. It should froth a bit, making it even lighter. Then, the waffles to your liking and eat right away, or at least right after you add some butter and syrup–much like the pentaquark, their crispness is too special and rare to last very long.  On my waffle maker, they take about 4.5 minutes to cook and use a scant cup of batter per waffle.  If you can’t eat them immediately, you can recrisp them in a toaster oven, and it will still be nice, but not quite as wondrous.

Let me know if you make them, and what you think of them!

P.S.  I know it’s been ages since I’ve written anything.  Thank you Andy Wright for pressuring me to get back in gear.