A waffle bar is a simple, no-fuss way to serve a brunch crowd
It’s the season for spring brides, and this waffle bar is our favorite go-to idea for serving a crowd a fun, tasty meal without breaking the budget. (There are no guarantees about whether or not your guests will be breaking their calorie budgets, unfortunately). Still, the benefit of any “bar” is that since guests can serve themselves, you eliminate some of the fuss of working around people’s dietary restrictions and preferences. You also eliminate a lot of wasted food, since most people only take what they will actually enjoy eating.
Another benefit of a waffle bar is simply the color. Bowls of juicy strawberries, blueberry pie filling, and fresh lemons for squeezing alternated with whipped cream, nuts, and flavorful syrups make this easy to dish up, and fast to clean up as well.
Cami was the event planner and hostess for this fun event. She set up in Grandma Joyce’s airy sunroom, and made these adorable pink polka-dot table runners. Place settings were pastel pink plates with decorative pink-striped straws accented with bright floral yellow napkins.
Cami added a wide-mouth Mason jar tied with pink ribbon and filled with tongue depressors to each table. Guests used these to write down their favorite “advice to the bride.”
And now for brunch! Guests helped themselves to pre-baked Belgian waffles and added their choice of an assortment of toppings.
You can get pretty creative with a waffle bar, and everything from sweet to savory toppings will work. Here are some favorites from our brunch-themed bar:
- Sliced strawberries
- Bananas (dip them in lemon juice to prevent browning)
- Fresh or frozen blueberries (or canned blueberry pie filling)
- Fresh raspberries
- Sliced or diced peaches
- Apple pie filling
- Strawberry jam
- Whipped cream
- An assortment of chopped nuts – macadamia, peanuts, pecans, almonds, etc.
- An assortment of syrups and toppings, including buttermilk syrup, caramel syrup, Nutella, raspberry syrup, and the old standby, maple syrup.
It’s always a good idea to borrow an extra waffle iron if you are serving quite a few people. This way, you can double your production. Have a friend help you do the baking before the party starts.
The trickiest thing about a waffle bar is keeping the waffles warm prior to serving. No one likes standing in line waiting for a waffle to come out of the iron, but no one likes a soggy, cold waffle either. Unless you want to have the groom hang out in the kitchen baking waffles and serving them one at a time, we recommend this method for keeping waffles warm until you are ready to serve the entire crowd:
- Warm your oven to 200 degrees
- Arrange cooked waffles in a single layer on clean baking sheets
- Cover the layer of waffles with paper towels or a clean dish towel to keep them warm for up to 2 hours.
- Remove the towel for the final 5 minutes to allow your waffles to crisp a bit.
If you have a larger crowd and limited oven space, add a cookie cooling rack on top of the dish towel you placed over the first layer of waffles. If you’re worried about crushing the waffles underneath, prop the cooling rack up at the corners with something like a small Pyrex ramekin or even some metal mason jar lid rings. Now, you can add a second layer of waffles right over the first layer. Don’t forget to cover this layer with a dish cloth as well. Remove hot waffles to a serving platter when you are ready to serve.
There are lots of great waffle recipes out there. Here in Utah, everyone is raving about liege waffles made popular by a single Food Truck known as the WaffleLove truck. People stand in line for hours to get one, as the photos on their catering site will attest.
But we also love this overnight “Yeasted Waffle” we call “Scott’s Waffles” because he discovered the recipe and is the only one with enough patience to try a waffle batter that had to “ferment” overnight until it is perfect. Once we tried them, however, we all became yeasted waffle converts. These waffles are simple to make, but require prior planning, as they have to proof for at least 12 hours. Also, if you are baking waffles for a crowd, make sure you have a VERY large bowl, or you’ll be mopping up waffle batter from the bottom of your refrigerator, and that’s no way to start the day when you’re hosting a bridal shower!
- 1¾ cups milk
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Heat milk and butter until butter is melted- 3 to 5 min. Cool until warm to the touch.
- In a small bowl, beat eggs and vanilla together. Gently stir into the milk mixture after the milk has cooled.
- Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl to combine. Slowly stir in the cooled milk mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
- Scrape the sides of bowl with a rubber spatula, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 12 hours. You may chill the batter for up to 24 hours. Dough will increase in volume, so leave plenty of extra room in your mixing bowl.
- Makes four 9-inch square waffles.