The story of the waffle: a clumsy Crusader and a stack of oat cakes

In 13th-century England, a Crusader wearing his armor accidentally sat on some freshly baked oat cakes. Flattened by his weight, they bore the deep imprints of the steel links. Not only did he like them that way, but his wife was so delighted by the way the butter settled in the imprints that she made him wear his armor once every week and sit on the fresh oat cakes.

So runs the story on how the ``waffle'' was born. Today waffle irons are streamlined with deeper wells and grids, the better to hold all those delectable extras.

For breakfast, top waffles with maple or fruit syrup, molasses, honey, apple butter, or confectioners' sugar.

Make them heartier by topping with seafood Newburg, creamed poultry, ham, eggs, mushrooms, or dried beef.

For dessert, top with sweetened berries, sliced fruit and whipped cream, ice cream, or sundae sauce.

The batter can be varied by adding ingredients or sprinkling things on top.

Stir in 1/2 cup grated cheese; 1 cup drained whole-kernel corn; 1/2 cup chopped ham; 1 1/3 cups chopped uncooked apples, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon sugar; 1 cup shredded coconut; 2 ounces (squares) chocolate, melted; or 2 teaspoons grated lemon or orange rind.

Top cheese waffles with creamed vegetables, meat, poultry, or seafood. Top corn waffles with creamed chicken, ham, or maple syrup. Stir 1/2 teaspoon curry powder into waffle batter. When baked, serve topped with creamed shrimp, chicken, or seafood Newburg.

If you do not wish to make your own waffle batter, take advantage of pancake or buttermilk baking mixes, preparing as label directs for waffles. Basic Waffle Recipe 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups milk 1/3 cup salad oil 2 eggs

Preheat waffle iron as manufacturer directs.

In large bowl, with wire whisk or slotted spoon, mix first flour, baking powder, and salt. Add remaining ingredients and beat until well blended.

When waffle iron is ready, pour batter into center of lower half until it spreads about 1 inch from edges. Cover and bake as manufacturer directs. Do not lift cover during baking. When steaming stops it is done. Lift cover and loosen with a fork. Serve at once.

Reheat iron before pouring in next waffle. Makes 4 cups batter or about 5 waffles.

For richer waffles, prepare as above, but use 4 eggs and substitute 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine for salad oil.

For Buttermilk Waffles, substitute 1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda for the 1 tablespoon baking powder and substitute buttermilk for regular milk. Maple-Flavored Syrup 1 cup packed brown sugar Dash of salt 1/2 cup water 1/4 cup butter or margarine 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional) 1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring

Cook all ingredients except flavorings in large saucepan until thick, 3 or 4 minutes. Add flavorings. No butter will be needed on waffles when this syrup is used. Makes 1 1/4 cups. Apple Syrup 1 cup cold water 1 6-ounce can frozen unsweetened apple juice concentrate, thawed 1/4 cup sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in 1 1/2-quart saucepan and stir over medium heat until mixture simmers and clears, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve warm over waffles. Any remaining syrup may be refrigerated. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Honey-Almond Butter 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 1/2 cup honey 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds

Beat honey into softened butter. Stir in nuts. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

A variation on honey butter can be made by substituting l teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest for toasted almonds. Cover and store in refrigerator, where it will keep at least 1 month.

--30{et

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