If You’re Looking for a Christmas Breakfast Idea…


This waffle recipe I was sent, recently, might be one to try.

As it happens, I was making up my Christmas list when a recent submission came in and it got me to thinking: I love waffles but haven’t owned a waffle iron in years. (I think I gave Mom’s old waffle iron to my brother at least 5 years ago.) After reading Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “Orange Waffles with Burst of Cranberry Topping”, an iron went on my list.

RLB Orange Waffles

Normally I’m not one to pass along someone else’s recipe without testing it myself (especially since it’s in service of promoting an appliance/manufacturer I’ve never used), but Ms. Beranbaum’s recipes hold major sway with me–her Cake Bible was one of my major references when I was branching out from cake mixes to scratch cakes and teaching myself as much about the pastry arts as I could before I was able to enroll in Culinary School.

Burst of Cranberry Topping

(includes weight measurements for key ingredients)

  • 1 cup water (8 fluid oz.)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar (10.6 oz.)
  • 3 tbsps. Cornstarch (1 oz.)
  • 4 cups fresh (or thawed frozen) cranberries (400 grams)

In a medium saucepan, stir together the water, sugar, cornstarch, and cranberries. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Stop stirring, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 minute, swirling the pan occasionally. The mixture will be thickened but pourable. Keep it warm or reheat it before serving.

Orange Waffles:

(Serves 4) served here with Chef’sChoice® WafflePro® M852

  • 8 tbsp.  unsalted butter, softened (4 oz.)
  • 2 cups  cake flour (lightly spooned into cup and leveled off) (8 oz.)
  • 4 tsps. Baking powder
  • ¼ tsp.   salt
  • 1 Tbsp. orange zest
  • 2 large eggs (3 fluid oz.)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (8 fluid ounces)
  • 1 cup whole milk (8 fluid ounces)

In a small saucepan over low heat, or microwave safe container, melt the butter. Allow it to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest until evenly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and whole milk until well blended. Add this mix, to the flour mixture and mix with a fork just until all the flour is moistened. Stir in the butter just until evenly blended. The batter should be lumpy. Use batter immediately after preparation. For best results, use the Chef’sChoice Model 852 wafflemaker on color control setting four, baking for three minutes (or when steam emitted from plates has largely dissipated). (For other waffle makers check manufacturer directions). Cook the waffles and remove them to the oven racks to keep warm until serving. Serve with hot cranberry topping. Of note, these waffles freeze perfectly and reheat in just a few minutes in a toaster or oven preheated to 300ËšF.

Since we do presents on Christmas Eve with my family I’ll be hoping the waffle iron is one of the presents with my name on it so I can give these a try. If not, I’ll be hitting up the after-Christmas sales for sure.

Recipes and image provided by Chef’sChoice.

Shortcake… or is it?


It was Mom’s birthday this weekend and she put in a double request for dessert: something with strawberry and chocolate and a chocolate pecan pie. So I suggested a chocolate angel food cake layered with cream and strawberries.

Like a shortcake, right?

Not really. This has been bugging me for a few weeks, now, after having seen an “expert” reply to this:

Q. Are strawberry shortcake and angel food cake the same

A. The cake is the same but the way you eat them are completely different.

Shortcakes versus Foam Cakes

Classic Strawberry Shortcake

Classic Strawberry Shortcake

A short cake is actually more like a biscuit or scone and takes it’s name from the “shortening” of the gluten from the solid fat (butter or vegetable shortening–no that name is not a coincidence) being cut in to the dry ingredients. Short cakes also use baking soda or powder for leavening.

Angle food cakes, on the other hand, are foam cakes, use absolutely no fat whatsoever and very little flour, for that matter. What gives them their lift and structure is the protein from the beaten egg whites that make up the majority of their volume.

Those little golden twinkie-textured things near the fruit in the produce section? Those are usually sponge cakes. Unlike foam cakes they often use outside leavening agents while still depending on the air beaten into the eggs (whether whole or separately and then combined).

So what is that shortcake-like dessert made with a split angel food cake, berries and cream?

A really yummy dessert. You could, I suppose, call it a torte after the process of splitting and filling the layers (commonly known as torting) though a traditional (German) torte is dense from the use of ground nuts instead of flour (though there are exceptions to every rule). But calling it a cake (even a strawberry cake) is really the safest bet out there.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Strawberries

Back to Mom’s birthday cake.

When in need of a fool-proof cake recipe, there’s one place I can turn: Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible. Of course she has a chocolate angel food cake recipe and, of course, the instructions are incredibly detailed. It’s really tough to mess up one of her recipes unless you take a short cut somewhere.

Incredible Egg Whites

Incredible Expanding Egg Whites

The one thing I didn’t have was cream of tartar but I opted to just go without–it adds stability and helps you to form stiff peaks of the egg white but with my stand mixer I wasn’t too worried about that. The 2 cups of egg whites (from 16 large eggs) quickly grew to fill the 4.5 quart bowl. It’s a good thing to have a separate, larger bowl to do the folding of the scant dry ingredients in with the very stiff egg whites.

We also ran into a slight problem with the cooling step–it seems my angel food pan was made differently than most and the opening of the center tube was not large enough to fit over the neck of the wine bottle, as suggested, or anything else that we could find. Until, that is, Todd spied the lighthouse decoration in our bathroom–between the dowel-rod point on top and the upper cabinets to keep it from wobbling we managed to keep the finished cake from deflating too very much while it cooled the required 1 1/2 hours. Pans with the little arms on top can also serve this same purpose, sans lighthouse.

I had planned to use whipped cream in the layers, along with macerated (sliced and sugared) strawberries and fudge sauce but the 16 egg yolks were just screaming to be made into a batch of Deluxe Pastry Cream (all yolks instead of half yolks, half whole eggs). Granted, it yielded over 2 quarts of pastry cream and it took a little more time than the whipped cream would have, but the finished dessert was that much creamier for the extra effort.

Speaking of which….

The Interior Layers

The Interior Layers

I split the angel food cake into three layers and topped the bottom and middle layers with pastry cream, strawberries and drizzles of chocolate. The top layer, once in place, got pastry cream and chocolate drizzle and the 6 whole strawberries I’d saved out of the quart before slicing the rest. The finished cake tipped a little in towards the center but benefited from a 2 hour rest during which the pastry cream seeped into the cake and turned the airy layers into creamy ones.

And Mom loved it, which would have made it right even if it’d been technically wrong.

Chocolate Angel Food with Strawberries

the Finished Chocolate Angel Food Cake with Strawberries