Last week my son had achievement tests at school…you know the all-day standardized fun-fest. A note is always sent with the kids to caution parents to send their children to bed on time and to feed them a nutritious breakfast.
As though we don’t usually…
So, I figured I probably shouldn’t send the fella off with a snickers and a mountain dew as I do every other day of the school year. And, the cotton candy and beer didn’t seem to do the trick last year for achievement test week…so…what’s a mom to do?
My kids are not in an egg phase. Cereal doesn’t quite feel like the “healthy breakfast” they had in mind. Waffles sound great, but are sort of like cake and ice cream when you get right down to it. So I searched around for a whole grain waffle recipe with good protein numbers so that I could feel like I was giving them something delicious and something that might actually keep them going all day.
The source and inspiration for my recipe is the Oat Waffle Recipe by Alton Brown. His stuff just works, period. However, I simultaneously dumbed down (sped up) his version and added varied grains as well as a dose of wheat bran. Essentially, his brilliant plan was to grind oats into oat flour and then combine them with all-purpose flour to make a nice balanced waffle. He also goes the extra mile of toasting the oats. I respectfully omitted this step for the sake of simplicity.
It is funny that I never see whole grains as a step away from being a flour. I’m sure the flour I use for making cakes was once a green plant in a beautiful field, but my brain rarely makes that leap in the hurry and scurry of life.
My other challenge was time. I have to get the kids up at the crack of dawn anyway, just to get out of the house for school. The puppy needs to go out and be fed and be taken back out, the coffee MUST be made, I must cajole the little sleepers into consciousness…and I must grind whole grains into flo…NO, the train goes off the track at that point. So, I devised a plan to create waffle mix for all five days of achievement test week. If you have a kitchen scale and five re-sealable plastic bags, it is a breeze.
I called in the help of three grain products here. Bob’s Red Mill has high quality grains that are becoming easier to find in regular grocery stores. You will likely have no problem getting their oats, but you might have trouble finding the 5 Grain Rolled Hot Cereal. I used it a while back for a savory granola recipe and liked the variety of grains, so I incorporated it into this. I also have a bag of their wheat bran sitting about and I figured, “in for a dime, in for a dollar” and I tossed some of that in too. So three of Bob’s products, yes. But, it makes an ever loving train load of waffles. And if you don’t like the waffles…you can eat hot oatmeal for breakfast. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you can only find the oats, know that that is just fine and you can use oat flour for the entire whole grain component of the waffles. (In case you were wondering…this is not a promoted post, and I’m not getting paid to shill Bob’s Red Mill products…I just like them).
A word to the wise: Let the grains process for a long time or you end up with crunchies in your waffles which I kind of like because they make me feel like I’m getting something healthy accomplished, but you might not feel the same way.
Basically, you will grind up each type of grain in the food processor until it is the consistency of slightly bumpy flour. Then you will divide the flours by weight into daily bags. This is why you need a kitchen scale. Each re-sealable bag will have 5 ounces of whole grain flour (3.5 ounces oats, 1.5 ounces five-grain, and a few tablespoons of wheat bran) and 5 ounces of all-purpose flour, leaveners, sugar and salt. Stack the bags in your pantry and they are ready to go. When you wake in the morning, plug in the waffle iron and gather the wet ingredients. Mix the batter and let it sit while you go bugle reveille to the troops. When you get back to the kitchen, followed by small plaid and flannel zombies, put the batter in the waffle iron. You are a mere 2 to 3 minutes from joy.
[I apologize for not having cup equivalents. But it varies with the consistency of the flours and we would end up with different mixes and yours might not work and then you might be irritated with me. For baking, weights are great. We should all bake by ingredient weight...but it is a hard habit to get into, even for me.]
And you will have technically complied with the instruction to feed your child a healthy breakfast.
Please don’t tell them that we loaded them up with butter and chocolate chips and real maple syrup. That might blow the whole deal.
This recipe requires the use of a food processor, scale and a Belgian waffle iron.
Recipe for a 5 mornings of Oat and Grain Waffles (makes 8 waffles per bag)
Dry Ingredients Total (to be divided into 5 bags):
25 ounces all-purpose flour
17.5 ounces old fashioned oats
7.5 ounces 5 grain rolled hot cereal grains
15 tablespoons wheat bran
15 tablespoons sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
2.5 teaspoons baking soda
2.5 teaspoons salt
Wet Ingredients Total (numbers for 5 days):
10 cups buttermilk (½ gallon plus 2 cups)
10 tablespoons butter, melted
5 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
Dry Ingredients per bag (or for one batch of 8 waffles): 5 ounces all-purpose flour, 3.5 ounces oat flour, 1.5 ounces five grain flour, 3 tablespoons wheat bran, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt
Wet Ingredients (for one batch of 8 waffles): 3 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1. Create the oat flour by placing the oats in a food processor for approximately three minutes. Process until it is smooth and powdered, like flour. Similarly, grind the five-grain cereal grains in the food processor. If you are making the multi-day batch, it is important to keep them separate. Though, you can easily just make one day worth at a time by using the weights listed “per bag.”
2. If making batches for five days, after grinding the grains, place the “Dry Ingredients per Bag” amount in each of five quart-size re-sealable bags. If you are not accustomed to working with a kitchen scale, this is the easiest way to divide the grains. Place a bowl on the scale and “zero it out.” This sets the scale back to zero, effectively ignoring the weight of the bowl. Measure 5 ounces of all-purpose flour into the bowl. Then, add 3.5 ounces of oat flour on top of the all-purpose flour (scale now reads 8.5 ounces). Then, add 1.5 ounces of the five grain flour (scale now reads 10 ounces). Add the wheat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl. Carefully mix the contents of the bowl and empty into a plastic bag and seal it. Label the bag. Repeat four additional times. You should have five plastic bags ready to go in no time. Absolute precision isn’t necessary, but the flour weights should total 10 ounces per bag.
3. To make one batch of waffles, empty the contents of one of the quart bags of mix into a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 eggs, 2 cups buttermilk, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Combine and mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, and allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes (time permitting).
4. Preheat a Belgian waffle iron to medium. Spray the waffle irons with non-stick cooking spray. Place batter into a Belgian waffle maker, approximately a scant ½ cup of batter per waffle. Allow the waffles to bake until fully golden, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and serve immediately with additional melted butter and maple syrup.
Possible substitutions: I made this with one cup Greek yogurt mixed with one cup milk and it was fine. The buttermilk is better but if you are in a pinch, try the yogurt.
Write the needed wet ingredients on the front of the plastic bags, and you don’t need to go digging up the recipe every time you want to make waffles.
And…in case it occurs to you that it would be easier to make one HUGE batch and divide it equally between 5 bags…the reason I don’t do that is that I fear that the leavening ingredients and the heavier ingredients like the sugar would migrate to the bottom of the big bowl and you would not have an equal and necessary distribution of those ingredients.
Make Ahead (even more ahead): I have made these waffles a million times now. Getting up early enough to even mix the batter is sometimes hard (yes, 5 extra minutes matter). So I have whipped up the mix with the wet ingredients the night before and left it in the fridge a few times and it works great. So, all you have to do is get up and plug in the waffle iron. Victory!
…and finally, when I am melting the 2 tablespoons of butter for the wet ingredients, I usually just melt a whole stick so that I have a totally inappropriate amount of hot melted butter to serve on top of the finished waffles.