From culinary student, to cook, to whatever the future holds
A few weeks ago, Alexir stopped into Bakery Noveau on his way to work. We’ve been there hundreds of times (both locations, but I’m referring to the West Seattle location) and love everything they do. Both locations are owned by a couple with many years of pastry experience. They’ve taken every that is right and good about french pastry and brought it to the fingertips of Seattle. Overnight-proofed breads, full of a slight tang and complexity of flavor impossible to find in that baguette from your local Safeway. Classic macarons in every color and flavor of the rainbow, including honey lavender and blood orange. Cakes and pastries requiring an exhaustive knowledge of technique and a great deal of finesse. And the pièce de résistance: Every laminated dough product imaginable. Butter croissants with a crispy exterior and soft, buttery interior. Chocolate and almond croissants, sweet and savory puff pastry circles, and my personal favorite kouigan-amann. (pronounced like queen-ah-MAHN)
While chatting with one of the many counter/barista folks, Alexir learned that the bakery had recently lost a cook/baker and was looking for some part time folks. We had talked about the possibility of Alexir taking on a part time job in addition to the restaurant a few times in the past months. To clarify, I wasn’t asking him to do any additional work, simply stating the the times when he fussed about his money being tight was indicative of needing to increase his income. A day or two after dropping off his resume, Alexir was contacted by Chef William (the owner). He walked in for an interview, and walked out with a start date.
It’s been three weeks since he took on the second job at Noveau. Besides the obvious benefit of some additional funds for our household, there are other positives. Alexir comes home with new stories about a whole different breed of people. We’ve spent years in kitchens, but I’d never say either of us worked in an actual bakery. Additionally, he gets a fantastic employee discount. Which of course means I’m hoping he sticks around there long enough to get us some discounted cheesecake for our wedding.
The downside to all of this has been a near absence of crossover in our schedules. I wake up for work at 3am, and head out by 3:30. Alexir wakes up for work and catches the bus by about 7:30am to start at Noveau at 9. He then continues until 1, then walks down to West City Kitchen and works a full shift there. By the time I arrive home from work at 1pm, there’s scarcely a sign he was even there, save an empty coffee cup in the sink and some terribly rumpled sheets on the bed.
This means that the two days off we share are a sacred time. We may make plans to see friends or head out to separate places for a while. However, apologies are made to our companions. Errands are short and to the point. We are quick to scurry back to the company of one another, as our shared time is so fleeting these days.
Rarer still is the choice to cook together. We are opposite ends of the spectrum in the kitchen, and I’ll be the first to admit we butt heads when we attempt to cook side by side. So when Alexir suggested we stop by the Pike Place Market Creamery to get supplies for a fun meal, I found myself a bit hesitant. But the allure of buying turkey eggs (which we’d enjoyed in the past) was too strong, and I eventually caved.
Alexir’s idea was to use all non-traditional eggs to make a yeasted waffle with ice cream. We decided the leftover duck eggs from our asian feast last weekend were a good pairing for the waffle, while the over-the-top fat content of the turkey eggs meant they were destined to be in the ice cream base.
I understand many people like waffles for their sauce-holding capabilities. In the food world, we’d refer to the waffle as “the vessel to get something delicious into my mouth”. I’m here to tell you that the additional time spent waiting for yeast to develop in these waffles is well worth it. The ho-hum sweet honeycombed surface is transformed into a balance of salty-sweet with a distinctive tang. It not only is delicious on its own, but elevates whatever you decide the slather all over.
We decided to make the ice cream base first and let it chill (lemon curd spiked with imported Italian limoncello, yum!). Then we made the waffle batter based and let it ferment for a few hours.
Our streets are lined with blackberry bushes, and we had a few hours to kill yet, so we took the dog on a walk and gathered enough blackberries to make a small jar of jam. I’ll still never understand why people pay for blackberries. Drive to any local park around this time of year and you’ll encounter more than you could possibly pick.
After a few more hours filled with heated Tetris battles on the Nintendo 64 (watch out, full-frontal nerd-ity), the batter base was ready and ice cream was already spinning. We heated up the waffle maker we had inherited from Alexir’s mom, Lynelle, and smothered the surface with melted butter. Because butter.
The waffles were extra crispy and held their crunch in the face of jam and ice cream. Although it does necessitate babysitting the waffles, as they can go from “perfect” to “charred inedible block” in 30 seconds. But SO worth it.
I’ve put this recipe in almost all weight or liquid measurements, as this is technically a yeasted “dough” and thus is classified as pastry. As with all pastry, things turn out consistently good with consistent measurements.
Basic Yeasted Waffles
18 fl oz whole milk
1 stick butter, cut into cubes, plus additional for coating the waffle iron
4 fl oz warm water (108* F – 115*F)
1 Tbsp honey
1 package active dry yeast (7 grams)
30 grams granulated sugar
5 grams salt
240 grams all purpose flour
90 grams whole wheat flour
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda
In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter until butter is melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a small bowl, combine warm water and honey. Sprinkle on yeast and allow to bloom for 5-10 minutes. Add cooled milk mixture to bloomed yeast. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, and flours. Whisk in yeast mixture until well combined. Cover and allow to sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge (allow for 10-15 minutes to warm up at room temperature if proofed overnight).
Once mixture has proofed, preheat waffle iron. Melt a small amount of butter and set aside. Add eggs and baking soda to the proofed mixture. Brush preheated waffle iron with melted butter and pour in 1/2-3/4 cup batter. Watch closely, as waffles brown quickly. Brush waffle iron with melted butter as needed between batches to prevent sticking. Can be cooled, tightly wrapped, and frozen for several weeks. Reheat in the oven or toaster.
Pure heaven! We still have leftover ice cream. And the waffles freeze SO well, I can’t wait to have another on the next grey, stormy day. Feel free to play around with the recipe. Add citrus zest, extracts, or different types of eggs.