January is a good month for waffles. Just the word ‘January’ in the Midwest conjures images of bracing wind, snow whipped sidewalks, scarves and thick mittens. It’s the aftermath of December, a holiday-less month of Winter. Nothing but winter. It needs something to lighten it up a bit, to warm us against the long dark months ahead.
My most favorite Buttermilk Cornmeal Waffle was born in January, bringing it’s crunchy warmth to a bitterly cold sub-zero day, just about 2 years ago. I’ve relied on that waffle recipe without question, reaching for it time and again to stir myself to face Winter’s white bite, to fill me with the gumption to dress for a day that rattles the windows like an angry giant. Our December was so uncharacteristic for Minnesota; unseasonable warmth, no snow and mild temperatures. We celebrated Christmas without a trace of snowflakes, then came New Years Eve, and rain began to fall, quickly changing over to the fattest, wettest flakes I’ve seen in ages, and by the time the sun rose on 2012, it looked a bit more like January should, and it felt like it too. Waffles needed to bridge the gap between the past year, and the start of this one. But not just any old waffle.
That burnished beauty isn’t exactly showing off it’s best in the photo, but that plain looking waffle is hiding a rich, spicy secret; cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg, mingling with tiny chunks of tender sweet potato. A bit of inspiration, and an urge to start off the New Year with more than just the same old waffle, I reached for a container of cooked squash, opened the spice cabinet and crossed my fingers. The scent rising from the steaming waffle iron was heady and enticing; the first bite, amazing. Tangy with buttermilk, hearty with wheat flour and altogether a knock-out way to start 2012, this will definitely be on ‘Repeat’ for the remainder of Winter, whether it chooses to snow like crazy as it did last year, or remain mercilessly un-winter-like, there is one thing for sure; bellies will need filling, and this is the key that slips perfectly in to place.
Spiced Sweet Potato Waffles
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. AP flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cardamom
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 T. sugar (or honey would work too)
1-1/2 c. buttermilk (I like to use vanilla soymilk, and add two tablespoon vanilla yogurt for tang)
1/3 c. neutral flavored oil, such as rapeseed or canola
1 c. cooked mashed sweet potato or other cooked squash
In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat flour, AP flour, powder, soda, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. If using honey, add that to the wet ingredients.
In a separate medium sized bowl, add the buttermilk, eggs, oil and squash. Whisk until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and gently fold together using a rubber spatula. Be sure to scrape across the bottom of the bowl to mix thoroughly. Do not overmix the batter. Allow to rest for 15 minutes. You’ll see bubbles form on the batter. Don’t stir it anymore.
Bake waffles according to your individual waffle maker. Mine makes 8″ round waffles, and I used 1/3 c. batter per waffle. This recipe made 6-8 waffles.
The original recipe used for this batter comes from The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham.