Ironclad tradition

Categories: Reflections and opinions

Ahead of Father’s Day, Borough Market demo chef and Great British Bake Off finalist Beca Lyne-Pirkis shares her memories of making waffles with her dad, and how she’s continuing the tradition with her own children

Weekends are precious. For the majority, it means no work and free time to do whatever it is you like to do. Weekends are extra precious in our house, because it’s when my husband comes home. He’s in the British Army and during the week he sleeps in the mess on camp, as it’s too far to commute home every day. Our girls obviously miss him, but they know that dad works as a solider and that “he’ll be home in five sleeps”, or however many sleeps it is until he’s back.

When I was a little girl, my dad would often work away too. It’s something you just accept as normal, really, and look forward to seeing him when he’s home. My brother and I would obviously look forward to seeing dad on the weekends for several reasons, but Saturday breakfast was near the top of my list—it meant waffles.

Now, these waffles weren’t anything fancy. Dad would literally help us weigh out the ingredients, self-raising flour, caster sugar, baking powder, eggs, milk, and butter. The key is to separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the milk and gradually adding them to the dry ingredients, and whisking the whites till stiff before gradually adding them to the mixture. The result is a light batter and fluffy waffles that absorb syrup and butter like a dream. 

Beca as a young girl making waffles

Dipping my finger in
As a girl, my favourite part was tasting the raw batter and to this day, when I inevitably have to check the quality of the batter before I cook the waffles, the action of dipping my little finger in to taste it immediately takes me back to being in our old kitchen as a two-year-old, stood next to dad.

When the batter was ready, he would ladle it into the searingly hot waffle machine and we’d wait for four very long minutes while the waffles cooked. Begrudgingly, my brother and I would share each waffle so that dad would have a small respite from cooking them. Toppings would again be very simple, just butter and golden syrup—maple syrup hadn’t quite reached Wales in the early eighties. We never knew quite when to stop to say we were full, as the waffles were lush and we didn’t want to stop eating them!

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve taken on the gauntlet of chief waffle-maker in our house now—apart from when we stay at my parent’s house, then dad is obviously in charge. The girls love helping me make the batter, just like how I used to and they too love checking the batter before it’s cooked, because licking the bowl and spoon are the two best bits of baking.

Beca's daughters making waffles

Make a fuss
Sadly, my husband won’t be home on Father’s Day this year as he has to work, but I’m sure we’ll make a fuss of him when he’s home and that will no doubt involve me and the girls making waffles for him. Don’t worry about us though—we’ll be staying at my parents’ house, where I will tell dad to stay in bed while we make him waffles for a change… I just hope they’re as good as his!

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads!

Read Beca’s recipe for cornbread waffles