In our humble opinion, the best part of fall is its mornings. Maybe it's the dew on golden leaves, the bit of fog rising from the earth, or – what's most apparent – the crisp chill in the air. Whatever it is, autumn mornings seem to make a cup of coffee taste better, a newspaper read on the porch more relaxing, a quick run more invigorating – and a good, warm breakfast a necessity.
Mornings like these, we bring out this waffle recipe from Nathan Lyon, host of 'Good Food America.' It comes from his recent cookbook, 'Great Food Starts Fresh,' which is chock-full of recipes that remind us why we should be eating seasonally and locally. "There are three huge benefits to eating seasonally," says Lyon. "Food is more flavorful, more nutritious, and it tastes better when it's in season."
Indeed, once September hits and those warm mornings go cool, your shopping cart should go from summer staples such as berries, melons, and tomatoes to fall favorites such as apples, onion, and sweet potatoes – and your breakfast should reflect that.
"With most waffle recipes, the flavor of the waffle plays second fiddle to the butter and maple syrup, both of which I love," he says, "but I wanted to develop a recipe where the waffle is the star." This recipe adds fresh sweet potato and fall spices to the waffle batter. "I thought back to my childhood Thanksgiving meals, to a time when my grandmother would serve her maple sweet potato puree with butter and cinnamon," says Lyon. The result is waffles that actually taste like something, and that something is fall: Spicy, warming, and earthy.
What's more, they require hardly any more work than that classic recipe you've kept in your wallet for years. Whip these up one chilly fall weekend morning and serve them topped with honey butter and real maple syrup.
Sweet Potato Waffles
• 1 small sweet potato (3/4 lb)
• 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flower
• 1 tbsp baking powder
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
• 1 pinch ground nutmeg
• 2 large eggs
• 1 1/4 cups milk (2 percent or whole)
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
• 1 tbsp orange zest, grated (1 large orange)
• Olive oil (for preparing the sweet potato)
• 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
• 1/4 cup honey
Preheat oven to 400°. Rub a thin layer of olive oil on the sweet potato; set on parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Bake for about 45-60 minutes. You can do this the night before to save time.
Peel and mash the baked sweet potato. Measure 1 cup and place in a large bowl. Feed any extra sweet potato to the dog.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, butter, maple syrup, and orange zest into the bowl with the mashed sweet potato.
Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the sweet potato-egg mixture until just combined. Note: It will be thick.
Place two sheet pans in the oven, and preheat the oven to 200°. This keeps the waffles warm as you make them.
Heat a waffle iron until hot and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
Pour in just enough batter to nearly fill the iron, but don't overload it.
Cook the waffles until done, about five minutes.
As the waffles finish cooking, place them on sheet pans in the 200° oven, uncovered. Don't stack the waffles – that makes them soggy.
Serve with honey butter (just mix the softened butter with the honey) and real maple syrup.