This month our resident advice columnist, Mark Harrod, investigates which breakfast delight is superior, waffles or pancakes. He brings guest, Sarah Dodge, pastry chef of Atlanta's 8 Arm, along for the ride. Discover their musings below!
Got a question for Mark? Throw it in the pile for next month's issue here.
Waffles or Pancakes?
Thanks for writing in, Ralph. Waffles are definitely the better breakfast option. In a rare moment of self-doubt after reading your question, I decided to check in with an expert resource to confirm what I’m thinking. Sarah Dodge is the very talented pastry chef of Atlanta restaurant 8 Arm. She has more knowledge about breakfast breads than I ever will, so I leaned on her.
Photo by Mia Yakel
Mark: Sarah, one of my "readers" has asked which is better— waffles or pancakes? I take waffles ALL DAY, but in a moment of doubt, I had to reach out to you. Am I right?
Sarah: Waffles 110%. First of all, waffle batter usually contains more fat (hopefully butter fat), which gives you that light texture with the crispy exterior. Also, let’s be honest, waffles are just more interesting pancakes with little pockets for your melted butter and syrup to get rest until devoured. Finally, waffles are way more fun to make savory. The are also way better to use as sandwich bread—to make WAFFLE SANDWICHES!!!
Mark: Hey, while I’ve got you here, can I ask you a couple more questions?
Sarah: If you must.
Mark: Are scones just biscuits that have been left on the counter for a couple days to get tough-‘n-crumbly?
Sarah: [laughter] No. I’m actually really sensitive about this. [stomps foot, shakes fist, and says, “Dammit”] A biscuit is tender and flaky, whereas a scone should be tender but CRUMBLY. Scones are meant to be consumed with a hot beverage and clotted cream/jam combo. To achieve that texture, while the ingredients in both the biscuit and scone are similar, it’s the ratios that are different. Lower fat content in the form of butter first and then cream/buttermilk is used to achieve a dryer [cough, cough]—crumblier texture. Obviously, some bakeries miss the mark and go too dry which is not fun for anyone.
Photo by Sarah Dodge
Mark: Do you think McDonald’s expanding their limited breakfast menu beyond 10:30 AM is a good thing for America?
Sarah: This one is tough for me. I currently find myself in direct competition with McDonald’s producing a sandwich at 8 Arm called, “THE McMUFF”, AKA “THE MUFF.” My mother calls me “Muff” which is so special, especially in public, but it is fitting for the sandwich as we make our English Muffins in house and the sandwich is just so perfect in it’s simplicity and flavor. With all this said, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to get a McFlurry and a McMuffIN (distinction here is important) at the same McTime—so yeah, you do you McDonald’s. I think America will appreciate it.
Mark: Sarah, I am going to hyperventilate if you tell me about one more breakfast sandwich you are serving at 8 Arm. To give myself a break here, more than anything else—what's your favorite 90's country song?
Sarah: I have to pick one????? WTF. I feel like Garth was going through something really moody and wonderful in the 90’s.
Mark: Indeed he was.
"Standing Outside the Fire” spoke to me quite a bit. Shania Twain also really got me. “Who’s Bed Have Your Boots Been Under” was a really wonderful attempt at catchy alliteration.*
*Mark note—did you catch what all those morons ignoring Shania Twain were eating in the video? Pancakes.
Finally, Tim’s “Where the Green Grass Grows” was definitely what I thought my adult life would look like, but yeah, that life is only for lyrics.
Mark: I've caught my breath, so switching back to breakfast— I very much like croissants, but the Youtube instructional videos I've watched make them seem like a massive pain to make at home. The shortcut dough that comes from those cardboard toilet paper roll thingies in the refrigerated section of the grocery store clearly isn't the solution. On a scale of one to ten, with ten representing the difficulty of eating a large, lava-hot bowl of soup while driving, how difficult is it to make croissants?
Sarah: On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 20. Just don’t do it.
Mark: Is there anything else that is more trouble than it's worth to make at home? Doughnuts?
Sarah: I would say bread, not because it's hard, but because people tend to not have patience, and give up, and make bad decisions, and then take photos of crappy made-from-scratch bread. They're so frustrated and give it a bad name, then they spread that bad name. Bread requires a lot of patience and understanding of what’s going on at each stage. If you're not a patient person, and not looking to work on that in yourself, just don't make bread at home.
Photo by Sarah Dodge
Mark: Your Instagram @sedodge has beautiful photos of food. What's one thing I can do to improve my food photography?
Sarah: Bring your own light box—just kidding— but, seriously, don't take photos of things when it's dark. If you can barely see it, then folks looking at your photo aren't going to see it either.
Mark: Okay, I've wasted enough of your time—how about some quick questions to end with? Chocolate or Vanilla?
Mark: Lemon or Lime?
Mark: Favorite Beatle?
Mark: Favorite band from Georgia?
Mark: Pound cake or cheesecake?
Sarah: Pound cake.
Mark: Crêpes: Bon ou mauvais?
Sarah: Meh, but bon.
Mark: If you are hungry and stuck in a shopping mall between Thanksgiving and Christmas, do you get an Auntie Anne's pretzel, a Great American Cookie Company Cookie, or a Cinnabon?
Sarah: Hands down, Great American Cookie Co. I live for that M&M cookie life.
Mark is a former lawyer who lives in Nashville. If you see a guy that looks like a former lawyer in Germantown, feel free to say, "Hi." You can also find him on the internet at basketofchips.com and @cmharrod.