Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Attack of the Killer Waffle Batter

Just in case you were wondering... yes. The rumors are true. Our Bee Sweet Bake Sale for Earth Day last week was a sweet success (probably one of our biggest in-office bake sales to date) with a menu consisting of such treats as:

Honey Raisin Oatmeal Cookies
Banana Bread with Honeyed Cream Cheese
Chocolate-Honey Mini Cupcakes
Spicy Ginger Brownies (honey-free)
Honey Peanut Butter Cookies
Whole-Wheat Honey Fruit Squares
Honeyed Hot Masala Chai

...and an ambitious (and delicious) Spicy Caramelized Onion and Fontina Cheese Pizza on Wheat-Free Teff Crust with Kalamata Olive & Honey Glaze (it was delightful).

Bee Sweet Bake Sale

My contribution came in the form of Honey Sourdough Waffles with butter, powdered sugar and a homemade Honey-Berry Syrup. And I'm going to tell you right now, the waffles turned out to be light, crisp and quite tasty, but they scared the hell out of me.

Let me tell you a little waffle story, then I'll give you the recipe to try... if you dare.

Based on the wild success of freshly cooked waffles at previous bake sales, I figured I'd bring out the waffle iron once again for this bake sale.

This time I thought I'd let the batter go overnight to give it extra flavor and y'know... personality. Well, this waffle batter had personality to spare.

When I woke up and opened the refrigerator door, there was a batter fountain flowing down the side of the refrigerator and across all the food below. Wow. That's not the nicest way to wake up.

After a 25-minute clean-up job, the batter was still bubbling, still threatening to erupt across the kitchen... but it was all worth it, right? Delicious, no?

Actually, no. I had a little sample and it tasted terrible. Simply horrid. Like spoiled milk. I wanted to cry.

I took it to work anyway. What was I supposed to do? I had a bake sale to support. And I had this irrational thought that cooking it might make it taste better. In waffle form, maybe it'd shape up and taste tangy and delicious. But I really didn't have much faith.

In any case, I stirred it up to keep the burbling growth at bay, put the lid back on it and carted it to work, terrified it would explode in a sticky, globby mess on the way.

Erupting Waffle Batter
Even at the office, it's threatening to spill over the edge of the jar...

Then at work, well... I wish you could have been there, because it was a waffle miracle. I fired up the iron. I ladled the batter. There was sizzling and steaming. And wonder of wonders — it tasted fine. Better than fine. It tasted terrific. Airy, crisp and full of yeasty flavor. A delight with melted butter.

Dozens and dozens of waffles were made. Money was donated. People were happy.

Would I do it again? Yes, but I'd either increase the size of the jar or halve the recipe.

And I'll give you the warning I should've given myself: if you let the batter burble overnight, you must give it the opportunity to triple in size. My jar was 3/4 full when it went into the fridge and that was a big, dumb, messy mistake.

So this recipe isn't officially sourdough, since it's not made with a sourdough starter, but since the batter is awfully sour, I'm calling it sourdough and nobody is going to stop me.

If you're paying close attention, you'll notice it's loosely based on the "My Mother's Waffles" recipe by Ruth Van Waerebeek that I posted a couple of years ago.

Honey "Sourdough" Waffles (Makes about 20)

2 packages active dry yeast
4 cups milk, warmed to 100°F
3 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1/2 cup honey
Pinch of salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites

To Serve (choose one or more)
Fresh whipped cream
Berries or cut fruit
Powdered sugar
Maple Syrup

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in one cup of the milk.
2. In a large, rooomy mixing bowl (the dough will double or triple in volume), whisk the egg yolks, melted butter, yeast mixture, honey and salt.
3. Gradually sift the flour into the batter. Alternate additions of flour with the remaining milk, stirring the batter after each addition.
4. Loosely cover and let the mixture develop overnight in the refrigerator.
5. The next morning, stir the batter, adding a splash of water if it seems too thick.
6. Beat the egg whites into soft peaks, then fold the egg whites into the batter.
7. Heat the waffle iron and bake your waffles according to the manufacturers' instructions. I use a ladle to portion the batter, but some recommend transferring the batter to a pitcher and pouring it into the waffle iron.
8. Immediately serve baked waffles with butter and powdered sugar or whipped cream and fresh fruit. To store leftover waffles, make sure you cool them completely before wrapping well and freezing.

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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Not actually baking for the bake sale

the cupcake meeting

I mentioned a while back that I was heading up a weekly office bake sale to raise funds for SOS (Share Our Strength).

Not surprisingly, summertime makes for some tough recruiting. From an operations standpoint, I can't really think of a worse time to run a bake sale. It's hot. It's humid. People are on vacation. People are seeing themselves in swimwear and reconsidering the wisdom of noshing on cookies... even if said cookies happen to be for charity.

Despite all that, it went pretty well. We made over $1020. (Not including a very generous online donation from my mom... thanks, mom!)

But truthfully, I have a shameful secret... for most of the summer, my own oven didn't work. The landlord kept putting off getting it fixed, and I kept forgetting to call that repair guy I saw on Craigslist, so I found myself heading up a charity bake sale without an operational oven.

Thus, as you might imagine, I've come up with a few great strategies for not actually baking for the bake sale:

1. Let someone else do the cooking. I don't mean purchasing premade cookies and bars and passing them off as your own stuff (though I've seen this done). There are actually a lot of recipes in which store-bought graham crackers, pound cake or cereal provide texture without requiring oven time on your part. Consider, for example, the graham crust in no-bake cheesecake bars or the ladyfingers in tiramisu. Still tasty... just not oven-dependent.

2. Cool desserts! One caveat: Do you have on-site refrigeration? Icebox Cakes and the like tend to get melty if they're not kept cool.

3. Think modern appliances. My waffle iron, untouched at home, became the belle of the bake sale ball. I used the "My Mother's Waffles" recipe from Everybody Eats Well in Belgium by Ruth Van Waerebeek (see below). The beguiling yeasty scent of sizzling DIY waffles drifted throughout the office and the accompanying bowls of sliced berries and fresh-whipped cream made for easy advertising.

4. Rice Krispy Treats. The classic. They take 12 minutes to make, they use three ingredients and the nostalgia factor dives widespread love (not to mention cravings). Dress 'em up with a handful of chocolate chips, a dollop of peanut butter or a sprinkling of dried cranberries for color and zip.

5. Buckeye balls, peanut brittle, taffy and other stovetop candies also make good no-bake candidates. Now that it's fall, I'd throw caramel apples in the mix. Mmm... caramel apples...

And now: The afore-mentioned awesome waffle recipe:

My Mother's Waffles
by Ruth Van Waerebeek
(Makes about 40)

4 packages active dry yeast
6 cups milk, warmed to 100°F
6 large egg yolks
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, melted and cooled to lukewarm
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
8 cups all-purpose flour
6 large egg whites, beaten to soft peaks

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the lukewarm milk.
2. In a large, deep mixing bowl (the dough will double or triple in volume), whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the remaining milk and the melted butter and margarine. Add the yeast mixture, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
3. Gradually add the flour to the batter by sifting it in. Alternate additions of flour with the remaining 4 1/2 cups milk. Stir with a wooden spoon after each addition.
4. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
5. Cover with a clean towel and put in a warm place. Let rise for 1 hour. The batter should double or even triple in volume. (While you wait, you have time to brew the coffee, set the table, and heat up your waffle iron.) Check the batter from time to time to make sure it isn't about to erupt like an impatient volcano. Stir it down once or twice.
6. Bake the waffles in a hot waffle iron. The easiest way to get the batter onto the waffle iron is to do what my mother does. Transfer the batter (by batches) into a water pitcher and pour the batter from the pitcher.
7. Serve the baked waffles with confectioners' sugar and butter, or whipped cream and fresh fruit. Allow any leftover waffles to cool on a rack before storing.

(PS: If you happen to be anywhere near Cooperstown, NY this weekend, Brewery Ommegang is doing their annual Waffles & Puppets fest. Belgian waffles, fantastic Belgian-style beers and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow interpreted with puppets. Crazy fun. Really wish I could be there. Cheers!)

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