This Spiced, Herby Waffle Is Breaking Breakfast Boundaries

June 29, 2018

Say hello to the umami waffle! For reasons only a food scientist can explain, this new sourdough waffle emerged from my kitchen so full of rich meaty aroma that it stopped me in my tracks. Umami, of course, is the fifth taste humans crave, along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.

Somehow, the alchemy unleashed by the ingredients is the secret behind this savory waffle, made with einkorn flour, sourdough, olive oil, and chives. Each time I tested a batch, the intoxicating scent of chicken or nutty-sweet Parmesan, both umami-rich ingredients (and none of which is in the recipe), wafted through the room.

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Einkorn, also known as farro piccolo, is a small ancient wheat. It is lower in gluten and rich in lutein. I mill my own flour for the most flavor—imagine your batter smelling like sweet pears in the morning. Seriously! Companies like Jovial or einkorn.com are good sources for einkorn flour.

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Whole grain einkorn flour has a mild flavor, but by itself does not add umami to recipes. The umami aroma is also noticeable with whole grain spelt flour, but slightly less so, likely because it has a more pronounced sweet wheatiness than einkorn does (but will be delicious nonetheless).

A few words on working with sourdough. I always have two starters going in my kitchen: a 100% whole grain rye starter and a wheat starter. Sometimes I combine them for a twist in flavor. Try Sam Fromartz’s Sourdough Starter if you are new to it all, but any starter can be used. The main thing is that your starter is active, as in recently refreshed, showing lots of tiny bubbles throughout. On hot days or nights the batter might rise faster, on cooler days more slowly. Just be prepared for a bit of variation as sourdough is alive.

This umami waffle can take lots of toppings beside simple ricotta salata. Smoked salmon is excellent, so is Parmesan or finely crumbled feta, preferably a mild sheep’s milk. Crisp bacon and fried eggs—or both!—make a combination fit for the brunch table.

So get ready for your meat-loving family members or friends to hover near the waffle iron and salivate before each crisp, lacy einkorn creation appears. Go make a batch with this 100% whole grain flour now, and watch everyone swoon.

Are you a fan of savory waffles? Let us know below!

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Maria Speck is the author of Simply Ancient Grains and Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (both by Ten Speed Press). Her work has received multiple awards, including a Julia Child and an M.F.K. Fisher cookbook award. Raised in Germany and Greece, Maria is a veteran journalist and food writer with a lifelong passion for whole grains.