There's something magical about Saturday morning breakfast. Making pancakes or waffles and frying up a pan of bacon aren't such daunting tasks when you're not racing to get your kids to school ahead of the tardy bell, but with the help of your freezer, you can bring some of that magic to the middle of the week.
Sure, you can buy frozen waffles and pancakes at the grocery store, but who needs Eggos - and who wants to pay for them? Frozen waffles the size of a CD cost about 20 cents each - when you have your own waffle iron or pancake griddle and a freezer?
(Bon Appetit magazine sent the blogosphere into a frenzy last year when it published a recipe for homemade Pop-Tarts, which also freeze well. They require quite a bit more work than your average freeze-ahead breakfast, but you can find a recipe and a how-to guide at austin360.com/relishaustin.)
Pancakes and waffles are both quick breads that don't lose much flavor or texture when frozen. Technically, waffle batter contains more sugar and fat than pancake batter, which is what makes waffles crispy and pancakes light and fluffy, but many store-bought mixes are meant to be used for both. (In fact, I made pancakes as well as waffles from Alton Brown's waffle recipe on page DX and the griddle cakes turned out just fine. I'm sure he'd disagree, but your third-grader won't mind.)
No matter if you're making pancakes or waffles from scratch or from a mix, the most important thing to remember about freezing them is to let them cool completely before sealing them up in a zip-top plastic bag and putting them in the freezer. Putting warm pancakes or waffles in the freezer will cause ice crystals to form on the surface and cause them to lose their texture.
To ensure you don't end up with a solid block of pancakes, you can either place a piece of parchment or wax paper between each pancake or waffle or you can flash freeze them on a pan before bagging.
Don't have a waffle iron? Borrow one from a neighbor, make a month's worth of breakfast in a single Saturday afternoon and you'll be able to return it before their weekly waffle feast on Sunday morning.
A note about waffle irons: Even if they have Teflon or another nonstick surface, spray the irons with a cooking spray. Waffles get their signature crunch because all those squares on a waffle iron create more surface area for the heat to have contact with the batter. By oiling up the squares, you're helping crisp up every square inch of that waffle.
You can reheat pancakes in the microwave faster than you can pour yourself a bowl of cornflakes, but waffles take about as long as a piece of toast because, in order to crisp up the edges, you should reheat them in a broiler or toaster oven. (No need to thaw either the pancakes or the waffles before reheating.)
And while you're making a double or triple batch of pancakes or waffles, go ahead and fry a few pounds of bacon. Using the same method of allowing the bacon to cool completely and then flash freezing on a pan or separating a layer of slices with parchment or wax paper, you can freeze the bacon slices. Remove as many as you need, and reheat in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds.
Making a weekend breakfast on a weekday is easy. Convincing the kids they still have to go to school is the hard part.
Make-ahead-and-freeze buttermilk waffles
This is a double batch of Alton Brown's buttermilk waffles, which were featured in an episode of his Food Network show "Good Eats" and published in "Good Eats 2: The Middle Years" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $37.50). Using half whole wheat flour counteracts the sweetness of the batter and makes the waffles slightly more nutritious. This recipe makes about a dozen 8-inch waffles.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. sugar
6 eggs, beaten
8 Tbsp. butter, melted
4 cups (or 1 quart) buttermilk
Preheat waffle iron. In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs and melted butter until emulsified. Whisk in buttermilk. Combine wet and dry ingredients, but do not overmix. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. Cook waffles according to the manufacturer's instructions.
To freeze: Let waffles cool completely and then freeze on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, place in a zip-top plastic bag, squeezing the extra air out before sealing the bag to help prevent freezer burn.
- Adapted from `Good Eats 2: The Middle Years' by Alton Brown