American breakfasts are predominantly sweet: yogurts with fruit sauces and overnight oats with more fruit sauces and lattes with caramel syrup and whipped cream and our secret household love, that flaky cereal with the dried strawberries, but most especially the baked goods, muffins and quickbreads and cinnamon buns. I love them all but more Saturdays than not, I wake up craving something savory I can plop a wobbly egg on top of and it’s for this reason that knew the second I saw cornbread waffles in Joy Wilson’s, aka Joy The Baker’s, new brunch cookbook that they’d be the first thing I was going to make.
Brunch has become a cultural punching bag over the last several years — “The meal brings out the worst in restaurants and their patrons. ‘Chefs bury the dregs of the week’s dinners under rich sauces, arranging them in curious combinations.’”“Less satisfying than the two things it purports to replace.” — but this, like most food things people like to complain about, are bothersome at restaurants. At home, brunch is everything: loosely scheduled and relaxed, exactly the way weekends should be, and pretty much anything you like to eat can be easily reformatted for a lazy midday meal.
Joy’s book is a ray of sunshine because it gets this — bright cocktails and smoothies, omelet wheels, banana bread granola, gooey buns and praline bacon — but I also love that it’s not entirely predictable, you know, like those derided brunch menus. There’s salad in there, something I wish more brunch menus included as an oasis from all the fried and smothered stuff, and in a nod to her adopted home of New Orleans, a Cajun Soufflé and a Muffaletta Brunch Salad and yes, stunning, pillowy overnight beignets that are going to happen next.
For this weekend though, these cornbread waffles are a no-brainer: they take 5 minutes to assemble, the batter briefly rests while you brew the coffee, and cook just as quickly. They go sweet or savory — finished with bananas and maple syrup or with hot honey and a piece of fried chicken teetering on top; you could add some cheddar, jalapeños and a salsa-topped egg if you’re inviting me over and you never want me to leave or you can do as we did, classic-style with crispy bacon, salt, pepper, chives and a poached egg.
Joy called for 2 tablespoons honey but I skipped it, wanting fully savory waffles. I did not skip the suggested tablespoon of molasses and hope you do not. It adds the faintest hint of sweetness and a real nuanced flavor.
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) coarse yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) molasses
- 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk, well-shaken
- 4 tablespoons (55 grams) melted unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
Waffles keep well for 4 days in fridge and longer in freezer. Waffles re-crisp and come back to life in a warm oven.