What was once a hobby is quickly turning Sam Donnell into the next waffle-iron chef.
“Most waffles are soggy and dense and bready. They’re not light, and they’re not crispy,” Donnell says of the challenge. “It took me a long time to find a batter that was light enough.”
Donnell, 27, began his quest for the perfect waffle while working on a farm in Hawaii. When pleased with his progress, he hosted a pop-up in his hometown of Lawrence: “I thought it would be no big deal.”
The Waffle Iron debuted barely more than a year ago; within three months, it exceeded the space available at the Lawrence coffee shop where it was operating as a weekend pop-up. For several more months, Donnell operated out of a rented space on East Seventh Street, building a loyal and devoted weekend brunch following.
This month the Waffle Iron will move again, popping up on Sundays, at least until Donnell finds a permanent space.
Donnell’s waffle recipe is distinctive at least in part because it incorporates a combination of 70 percent cake flour and 30 percent Moon on the Meadow Turkey Red heirloom wheat.
On a recent morning, he offered buttermilk or yeast-leavened waffles with a choice of eight imaginative toppings that are constantly changing.
Sweet offerings included raspberries and coriander cream, sprinkled with Fruity Pebbles cereal then dusted with bee pollen; and blackberries and tarragon served on a sculpted cloud of Marshmallow Fluff torched golden-brown. Savory options often include the Hank Benedict, featuring artisanal bacon from Lawrence-based Hank Charcuterie.
Donnell credits recipes by Alice Waters, Grant Achatz, Momofuku and a British baking blog as starting points for his own culinary tinkering. Meanwhile, he has tapped into #waffles on Instagram to discover “there’s a whole world out there doing crazy stuff.”
▪ The Waffle Iron will pop up on Sundays. Check facebook.com/wafflelfk for changing times and locations. Note: The gluten-free waffle has been discontinued.