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WAFFLES ADD A NEW WRINKLE TO CHRISTMAS

When our friend Julie Realon shares a recipe with us, we head straight to the kitchen. When Julie, a talented cook, gave us the recipe for her favorite Christmas morning waffles, we were blown away by the result.

What is it about these yeast-raised waffles? we both wondered. Weren't these exactly the same waffles we'd both seen in another cookbook? It turns out that the recipe has appeared in at least four other cookbooks.

I first came across these waffles in a favorite cookbook called "Breakfast All Day," by Edon Waycott (1996, William Morrow). Beverly spied the same recipe in Shirley Corriher's "CookWise" (1997, William Morrow). Shirley credited the recipe to Marion Cunningham's "The Breakfast Book" (1988, Alfred A. Knopf). And Marion reprinted the waffles from the original "Fanny Farmer Cookbook," which she revised in 1984. In each case, the author said that this was her favorite waffle recipe.

We knew it had to be truly special for all these talented cooks, Julie included, to rave so.

Our Christmas breakfast dilemma was solved. Don't let the yeast scare you. Just stir together the ingredients up to two days ahead, let stand on the counter overnight, then refrigerate and wait for Christmas morning. Then, as folks wander down to the kitchen, the waffles are ready for the iron. The remaining batter goes back in the refrigerator for the late risers. At our houses, we plan on firing up two waffle irons for faster service, since we work up our appetites opening presents first.

These light and fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth waffles are probably unlike any you've tasted. Like the lightest of yeast rolls, they disappear if you hold them on your tongue. Simple brown-and-serve sausage links and grapefruit halves round out the menu. With just 10 minutes of preparation, you'll be famous in your family for serving waffles made with this treasured recipe.

FAMOUS RAISED WAFFLES

1/2 cup warm (not hot) tap water

1package ( 1/4 ounce) active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

maple syrup to taste
At least 8 hours before serving (and up to 2 1/2 days ahead), pour the water into a 2-quart mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let it stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the milk into a 2-cup glass measure and microwave, uncovered, at high, for 2 minutes (until it reaches about 100 degrees). Melt the butter in the microwave, (about 45 seconds at high).

Whisk in the milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour until lumps disappear. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature overnight, or at least for 8 hours.

Whisk the eggs and baking powder into the batter. It will be very thin. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to make waffles. (The completed batter will keep, covered, for 2 days in the refrigerator.)

To serve, preheat waffle iron. Stir the batter if necessary. Pour about 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of batter onto the hot waffle iron and cook until golden and crisp. (The waffle will be done when steam has just stopped escaping.) Serve at once, topping each waffle with 1 tablespoon of syrup or more, to taste. Makes 8 waffles.

Note: This batter is very thin and doesn't work in a Belgian waffle iron. Use an iron that makes traditional (thin) waffles for best results.

Approximate values per serving: 329 calories (41 percent from fat), 15 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 92 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber, 356 milligrams sodium.

Send us desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; or e-mail: ddinners@aol.com.

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