Waffles of Unexpected Banananess
Some people buy last-minute gifts. I ask last-minute small kitchen appliance questions. Have you ever tried to bring a waffle iron through airport security? Do you have to take it out of your bag, with your liquids and your laptop?
I ask because I am thinking of packing my waffle iron on my holiday trip home. I’m sure I could put it in my checked bag, but perhaps then my clothes would smell like waffles on arrival. This would not be entirely unpleasant.
But then I am thinking my clothes would also feel like waffles, because they would end up coated with a thin film of canola oil cooking spray. And I would become … nonstick? I can just see myself sliding off of every chair I try to sit on.
So I am thinking of going the carry-on route instead. I’m lucky that I’m flying Alaska Airlines. They have this deal where Waffles Fly Free when you buy one full-priced adult ticket.
This silly idea is brought to you by (1) banana waffles, and (2) my hair salon.
Last week, I got my bramble bush of curly hair trimmed and straightened. As usual, my stylist was bracing himself against his salon station, wiping sweat from his brow, and rehydrating with Gatorade as necessary, as he attacked section by unwieldy section with his flat iron. Needless to say, it’s quite a lengthy process. While he was working, another stylist came over with her iPad and started showing us breathtaking pictures of her recent trip to Australia and New Zealand. And then she got to this series of pictures of her and three of her friends in front of the Sydney Opera House.
“So the four of us are hoping to get a picture together,” she said, “and we ask this sweet-looking lady passing by if she would be willing to take a photo. And she says, “Yes.’ And then she hands the camera to another total stranger, and comes up and puts her arm around me, and says cheese!”
I wish I had copies of these pictures to show you. They are priceless. They feature the stylist and her friends in various stages of uncontrollable laughter, and then this adorable woman, all of 4 feet and change, smiling warmly at the camera.
I cannot stop thinking about these photos. They started something humming in my sugar-cookie-addled brain. Unexpected zaniness like this brings so much joy. And so does unexpected breakfast.
Last year, on Christmas morning, I woke up before everyone else, snuck down to the kitchen, and made nutmeg doughnut muffins for my family. We opened presents with cinnamon-sugar-coated fingers. This year, I need to up the ante. Hence the waffle iron carry-on. Where I’m going, we grew up on Eggos, and NOBODY expects a homemade waffle! My chief weapon is surprise! Surprise and bananas. My two weapons are surprise and bananas.
Waffles of Unexpected Banananess (WUBs)
Makes 4 waffles
This recipe is a mashup of the Chez Panisse Fruit recipe for banana waffles and the Waffle of Insane Greatness (WIG) recipe. I make plain WIGs often, and they are delicious, but the bananas take them to a whole different place. A Christmas-morning place, if you will. Sandwiched between two layers of batter, the banana slices melt down into the waffle’s fluffy interior. The batter is not too sweet, so the bananas are a nice contrast to the thin, crisp exterior. The original Chez Panisse recipe had excellent flavor, but the batter was a bit thick and difficult to layer over the bananas without over-filling my waffle iron. It also did not produce waffles as crispy as the WIG. Next time, I am going to try making these with a buckwheat pancake/waffle mix that I usually have on hand. But don’t tell anyone! My chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and buckwheat. Surprise and buckwheat and bananas. There are three weapons. I’ll come in again.
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 tsp. vanilla
2 bananas, peeled and sliced thin
Nonstick cooking spray or melted butter to prep the waffle iron
Maple syrup for serving
Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the milk, buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes. You can skip the batter resting period, and the waffles will still be good, but they will come out crispier on the outside if you rest it. (Here’s why.)
Preheat your waffle iron. Coat it lightly with nonstick spray or melted butter before each round of waffle cooking. (The original WIG recipe says not to do this, but I find my waffle iron works better if I do. Also, for this recipe, if the bananas poke through the batter, they tend to stick.) Ladle a thin layer of batter into the waffle iron. Arrange banana slices in a single layer on top of the batter. Don’t worry too much about how you arrange them–they are going to melt down anyway. I used half a banana for each waffle. Top the bananas with another thin layer of batter, creating a banana sandwich. I used about 1/4 cup of batter for each layer. Cook until crisp and golden. Serve hot, with maple syrup and any leftover banana slices.