I’ve been on something of a quest these last few months to recreate the waffles from the Hollywood Grill on North Avenue here in Chicago. The Hollywood is the quintisential down-and-dirty old-school diner and their waffle recipe (and their pancakes) are unmistakeable and delicious. Nothing fancy about them at all — they’re gigantic and come with a wollop of whipped butter and a sprinkle of powdered sugar but otherwise appear just the same as you’d find at any diner. But they’re not the same. They’re ethereal. Somehow simultaneously crispy on the outside, spongy in the middle, pleasantly sweet with that malty tang you can only seem to find in diner-style griddle cakes.
I love these waffles in an almost unnatural way. I crave them (who craves waffles?). We live way too close to the Hollywood Grill for this (not to mention its open 24 hours and is priced to be the antithesis of the many “upscale” breakfast places in our neighborhood). This is a problem. So, recently, I’ve been trying to recreate the recipe. I’ve tried from-scratch recipes, mixes…all sorts of ideas, but I can’t seem to get it quite right. A google search for “diner-style” waffle and pancake recipes yields almost nothing. But I’ve found a few and have made some progress.
The version pictured here is as close as I’ve come so far and — really, they’re quite delicious. For anyone who wasn’t as completely besotted by the Hollywood version, these will probably pass as a most excellent waffle. They’re even more excellent bathed in a generous scoop of berry sauce (berries simmered with a bit of water and sugar for about 15 minutes) and freshly whipped cream. The cream in particular is another issue of late. The kitchens at culinary school are always stocked with fresh cream and whenever the class is working on something sweet, inevitably someone decides to whip some into luscious, uctuous dollops. Once you realize how impossibly easy it is to whip cream into perfect, fluffy dollops using nothing but a bowl and a whisk, its hard to find a reason not to. My waistline is not pleased with all of this. But my tastebuds are.
Anyway, I’ll keep on my quest for the “perfect” Hollywood waffle, but in the meantime, these are a very welcome addition to the weekend repitoire. They make a great weekday breakfast too with a little planning — wrap your leftover weekend waffles in plastic wrap, stick them in the freezer and reheat them in the toaster during the week. Way better than cereal.
“Diner-style” Malted Waffles
Makes 10 -12 waffles
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup malt powder
Combine eggs, milk and vanilla in a blender and blend on medium setting until mixture is well combined and light. Add oil and blend for a few seconds more.
In a large bowl, wisk together dry ingredients, then add the dry mixture into the blender. Cover securely and blend just until combined (I used the “pulse” setting on my blender and only blended for about 4 pulses). Batter should be relatively thick and fluffy with a few lumps remaining. Let batter rest for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat waffle iron according to manufacturer instructions. Grease the heating plates with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Pour waffle batter into the iron and spread evenly across the heat plates, close the waffle iron to cook for the desired amount of time. When waffles are cooked to a golden crisp, remove from iron. To maintain crispness, place finished waffles on a baking rack (instead of a solid plate) and place rack in an oven on the “warm” setting until ready to serve. Repeat process with remaining waffle batter.
Serve waffles warm with butter, syrup, fruit and/or freshly whipped cream as desired.