Waffling over Aunt Lillian’s Waffles

Ready to Cook the Waffles

Ready to Cook the Waffles

As I was looking through Aunt Lillian’s cookbook, it struck me that Aunt Lillian’s recipe for waffles might be a fun and simple recipe to make – certainly all the ingredients are on hand at any time in our kitchen.

Dan and I have a special fondness for waffles having made them since we started dating using a vintage waffle iron that belonged to his Aunt Faye. That is until the unfortunate almost fire when Aunt Faye’s waffle iron was flung from an open window out onto the lawn to keep the smoke detector from going off! That put an end to our waffle making for a while until our dear friends Leslie and Mark bought us a new waffle maker.

When making our waffles, we’ve always used a pancake mix however, so I was excited to try making them from scratch.

As I went through my cookbooks to find recipes I of course found lots to choose from! They included:

  • 1920 Royal Baking Powder Cook Book
  • Cleveland’s Baking Powder Cook Book, no date
  • 1931 For Making Good Things to Eat from the Snow Drift Company (Snow Drift was a Crisco-like product made by the Wesson Oil Company. In fact it was the first product of its kind invented in 1899 by John Wesson as a by-product of the cotton seed industry. It vied in popularity with Crisco. Here’s a great commercial from 1953 for the product.)
  • 1924 Fannie Farmer Cookbook (the recipe I ended up following)
  • 1941 Carnation Cook Book (which of course called for Carnation milk!)

The history of waffles goes very far back to ancient Greece when they were cooking between two flat plates a thin wafer called an obleio. This continued into the Middle Ages when obloyeurs sold wafers outside of church as either flat or rolled wafers. In the 13th century this became the waffle when a blacksmith fashioned the first waffle maker shaped in the pattern after the honeycomb and these were called in French gaufre (or Old French wafla).

The Dutch loved waffles, which they called wafel, and so our friends the Pilgrims picked up a taste for them while living in Holland before coming to the New World. They, along with the Dutch, brought wafels to America. Again our friends the Dutch. I’m continually amazed at how many food traditions we have from an immigrant group that was in many ways so small!

Cast Iron Waffle Maker

Cast Iron Waffle Maker

By Lillian’s time waffles were being made on her wood stove in a waffle maker that looks like this. They still make them out of cast iron if you want one. I imagine these make wonderful crisp waffles.

In America waffles became a breakfast food by the late 19th century being served with maple syrup or powdered sugar. My 1924 Fannie Farmer also has them served with boiled cider. And has recipes for Sweet Potato Waffles, Rice Waffles, Virginia Waffles (made with white corn meal), and Raised Waffles (made with yeast).

Here’s Aunt Lillian’s recipe which could have fed an army – although she had no children she did have the equivalent of foster children living with her at various times. And no doubt family would come to visit! So for the army:

Aunt Lillian’s Waffles

Sift together

  • 1 quart flour
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsps sugar
  • 1/2 tsps salt

Cut and rub in

  • 3 tbs butter or substitute (Aunt Lillian’s cookbook was made either during WWI or II when substitutes were called for

Add

  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk

Mix the whole into a smooth batter and bake on hot waffle irons. Sprinkle with sifted sugar and serve hot.

I tried this one instead:

Fannie Farmer’s 1924 Recipe

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • yolks 2 eggs
  • whites 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs melted butter
Ready to Mix the Waffles

Ready to Mix the Waffles

Mix and sift dry ingredients; add milk gradually, yolks of eggs well beaten, and whites of eggs beaten stiff;

(Note here that to be true to the 1920-1940 period I did NOT use an electric beater,but instead used my “new to me” hand held mixer. It brought back fond memories of working in my mother’s kitchen. My Mom was anti-gadgets and used one of these things until she stopped cooking when she retired in the 1990s. No, she didn’t buy a mixer. She just stopped cooking! Yes, it is possible to beat egg whites stiff with one of these things and it doesn’t take too long.)

cook on a greased hot waffle-iron. Serve with maple syrup.

My batter was pretty thick after incorporating the egg whites

My batter was pretty thick after incorporating the egg whites

That’s it. The hardest part was whipping the egg whites. Sure it takes longer than a mix, but it really wasn’t bad. I heated up the waffle iron and soon we had waffles!

The result – mixed. Just like everything I have baked from scratch using these older recipes it tasted light, fresh, and more natural than our processed foods. Certainly it tasted better than Eggo Waffles (see their ingredients here)! Ugh!

They were very thick as you can see in the photo and also quite chewy. I wondered if I’d

over beaten the mix? I tried again another day to see of I could do better. The next batch was better, but still a bit chewey. Perhaps I’m not leaving them in long enough? We both agree we like the waffles, but just wish we could get them a bit crisper.

Finished Waffles

Finished Waffles

I have no intention of giving up and plan to try some of my other recipes – though not the one that calls for Snowdrift. I think we will pass on that one……

I encourage you all to dig out an old cook book and try homemade waffles for yourself and see what you think and let me know the results!

2 Responses to “Waffling over Aunt Lillian’s Waffles”

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  1. Cynthia says:

    Hello Lisa,
    I’m from Holland and I love to bake so it’s fun to read how much the Dutch influenced the American baking! I like the way you reseach before you start baking/cooking!
    I have to say about the waffles: they look just like the waffle you can buy here in Holland only we eat them as a cake/cookie while drinking a hot beverage. These are not breakfast waffles. That explains the chewiness I guess. The Belgium waffles are indeed way more crispy, but I prefer the cookie variety. You could dip them (one side only) in chocolate!
    By the way, you wrote the Dutch called them “kockje” but today we call them “koekje”. Maybe it’s Old Dutch…

    Love reading your blog! Good luck cooking!
    Cynthia

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks Cynthia for your comments on Dutch waffles! I have been so interested in our Dutch culinary heritage for lots of reasons. I’m part Dutch! My ancestor, Cornelius Schermerhorn, came over from Holland sometime in the 19th century. We don’t know the exact date or from where but he settled in western New York, married, had a few kids and then promptly died!

      My later waffle attempts have resulted in crisper waffles but they remain a breakfast dish here in America. I’ll check on my Dutch cookie spelling. Perhaps its a typo on my part, or as you said, Old Dutch.

      Thanks for reading my blog. I hope to have a Facebook Page up soon where people can be alerted when I have a new post. So check back!

      Lisa

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