I love breakfast. It's fair to say I love all food, but breakfast holds a special place in my heart. While the classic fry up may be a British institution, eggs are one of the very few things I'm not a big fan of, meaning my default weekend brekkie is usually a doorstop smoked bacon sarnie, washed down with copious mugs of builder's tea.
If we're really pushing the breakfast boat out then I love making pancakes. Not the buttery French crepe, or our own version, doused in lemon and caster sugar, but the American style. Soft, springy, stacked up on the plate and swimming in whipped butter and maple syrup. A few strips of crispy streaky bacon and a pot of coffee (while the tannin in tea cuts through the grease of a fry up, I think sweet flavours seem to pair better with coffee) finish off the scene. Breakfast bliss.
So you can imagine my excitement when I found the Ewing's Mum had donated her (almost unused) waffle iron to me. No longer would I have to skip past the pages stating 'a waffle maker is necessary for this recipe' in my cookbook collection; a whole new plethora of exciting, crispy creations, doused in lakes of syrup, fruit, nuts and cream, now seemed possible.
Serendipitously I was reading The Modern Pantry cook book at the time of my unexpected gift. Reputedly home to one of the best, and certainly one of the most creative breakfasts in London, Anna Hansen's waffles looked perfect. Her original recipe add coconut to the batter, and is served with fresh passionfruit, mango and a vanilla marscapone. Delicious as that sounded I wanted something a little plainer to showcase some crispy bacon; luckily she also gives an alternate version, with ground polenta replacing the coconut, an ideal back drop for the smoked meat topping.
I won't lie: the waffles weren't a piece of cake to make. After deciding to halve the batter, as the original recipe makes a dozen waffles and feeds six (yes, I can eat a lot, but a girl does have her limits...), I started to get worried after the first two stuck fast to the waffle iron. Fortunately it was a little like making pancakes, after a sticky start the final four were (pretty) perfect; bronzed, crispy, golden and ready to be draped in their blanket of sweet bacon.
I manage to pick up some Oscar Meyer American style smoked bacon from the supermarket, if you can't get it then use smoked streaky instead. What ever you choose make sure it has a good amount of fat, so it will crisp up nicely under the grill. Soft, sweet waffles and pancakes demand friable strips of pig, rather than our softer curls of back bacon.
Although it's pretty hard to improve upon the simple perfection of a well cooked rasher, a glaze of Bourbon and maple syrup may just do it. You can just grill, or fry your bacon au naturel, but adding a little slick of the whisky and syrup mixture gives an extra depth to the smoky sweetness. If you take the bacon just to the edge of burning you get a nice mixture of bitter, sweet and salt all in one mouthful (just don't abandon it, as I did, returning to a thick fug of frazzled pork and caramelised sugar that had managed to stick to everything).
Beer Waffles with Maple Bourbon Glazed Bacon
Serves 4-6 (waffle mixture can be halved)
270g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g dessicated coconut or polenta
200ml tepid water
200ml tepid beer or ale
150ml double cream
100g unsalted butter
4 eggs, separated
12 rashers smoked streaky bacon
100ml maple syrup, plus extra to serve
50ml bourbon optional
Sift flour sugar and salt into a bowl and stir in the coconut or polenta.
Gently whisk in the water, beer, whipped cream, melted butter and egg yolks.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and then gently fold them into the batter.
To cook the waffles heat the waffle iron and brush with melted butter on both sides. Add a ladle of the mixture, making sure it's spread out to the edges, and close iron.
Cook each waffle for approximately 4-6 minutes, or until fluffy and golden.
(the waffles can be kept warm in a low oven until ready to serve).
To make the glazed bacon: place the bacon rashers on a grill pan and brush with a mixture of the maple syrup and bourbon.
Grill bacon until crisp on one side, turn rashers, brush the other side with the syrup mixture and repeat. (keep an eye on the bacon while cooking, the syrup can burn very quickly).
Serve waffles with bacon, extra syrup and a dusting of icing sugar.