The typical service industry schedule greatly conflicts with maintaining healthy eating habits. We often don’t wake up until 10 AM or later, and our battered and bruised bodies are slow to get moving. By the time we’re up, washed, and caffeinated, it’s pushing noon. At this point there’s two options: either have a breakfast-like meal at noon (I’m not talking brunch, I mean cereal and milk) or skip breakfast altogether for lunch.
Work doesn’t begin until 3, 4, or 5 in the afternoon, and in the 30 minutes immediately preceding our shifts, we stuff our faces because we know that once we start, chances are slim that we’ll get more than a 60-second bathroom break (depending on business volume, even that can be a luxury).
Shifts are marathon-esque, and we’re constantly in motion. Grabbing bottles, shaking cocktails, washing glassware, polishing glassware, clearing plates, running dirty dishes to the back. These are all givens. Then there are the random sprints:
Running a steak back to the kitchen because the “mid well” is still bleeding.
Running a salad back to the kitchen because it has bacon and croutons (Why didn’t you tell me you’re a vegan with a gluten allergy?!).
Running down the street after the woman who forgot to pay her tab (Don’t assume the creeper who was mercilessly hitting on you had picked up your tab).
Running down the street after the drunken businessman who left his AMEX in the check presenter (He hastily slammed two shots and asked for his tab after being shut down by every woman in the bar).
We run, run, run all night long. If we’re lucky, we may get some sketchy banquet food that’s been sitting out unrefrigerated for an unsafe amount of time. Maybe we get to chomp on a few pieces of bread and butter while filling ice buckets to haul back to the bar.
These are only hopes. Most likely, dinner service ends, and then the bar does last call. We clean the bar, do paperwork, count money, and leave famished. Sometimes we go straight home and inhale any scrap of leftover takeout food we can find in the refrigerator. More often than not, we head to another bar with coworkers to grab a beer(s) and a shot(s) and unload every frustrating scenario and belligerent guest we encountered throughout the night. Food options are scarce at that hour (it’s definitely after midnight by now – possibly 2, 3, or 4 AM). We give up on our quest for food and head to our homes to pass out.
We wake up the next morning, still starving, and begin the process again.
Blurring the line between breakfast and dessert, I’ve given this cake the waffle treatment for a number of reasons:
- Cooking a cake in a waffle iron takes 1/10th of the time as the oven (not even including preheating time).
- A waffle cake takes only minutes to cool off (far less than regular oven cakes or “ovenies” as I will refer to them only in this instance).
- You can definitely eat waffle cake for breakfast.
- I just spent almost $100 on a double Belgian waffle maker, and to make sure I get my money’s worth, I am waffling EVERY DAMN THING I CAN.
I’ve made it twice now, and honestly, I cooked the bacon in the microwave the second time (5-6 minutes and boom! Crispy bacon), so I wouldn’t have to fool with the oven at all. Cooking the bacon in the microwave also allows for this entire cake to be done in about 30 minutes.
Dangerous, I know.
Make the batter. Cook the bacon while you waffle the cake. Chop the bacon in the blender. Make the whipped cream while the cake cools (waffle cakes take far less time to cool than oven cakes). Slather on the whipped cream. Make the praline topping and pour that goodness all over the top of the cake. Done.
Now you’ve got yourself an indulgent, maple-sweetened cake with fluffy, bourbon-spiked whipped cream, and deliciously easy candied bacon praline topping. What more could you want?
- ¾ cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- ½ cup cake flour, sifted
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp bourbon (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- ⅔ cup maple syrup
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 2 tbsp bourbon
- ½ cup chopped candied bacon (plus more for garnish, if desired)
- ¼ cup chopped pecans (toasted, if desired, for more flavor)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking pan with foil and place a wire rack in the pan. Brush both sides of each slice of bacon with maple syrup and sprinkle with light brown sugar. Lay the slices on the wire rack, not overlapping, and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Be careful not to burn it. Alternatively, cook the bacon in the microwave on a paper towel-lined plate for 5-6 minutes (or longer depending on your microwave). Be sure to use tongs to flip the bacon halfway through baking to ensure even baking on both sides. Allow the bacon to cool for several minutes before chopping (a food processor or blender is the best way to chop up the bacon).
- Preheat the waffle maker according to a low-medium setting (I set mine to 2 and ½).
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar. Add the egg and bourbon (or vanilla extract) and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and maple syrup, beating just until combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the waffle maker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You should end up with 3 large waffle cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature on a wire rack while you prepare the whipped cream.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the heavy cream and using the whisk attachment, begin whipping. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar then the bourbon, and whip until stiff peaks form. Spread half of the whipped cream on top of one cake layer. Top with a second cake layer, and spread the remaining whipped cream on top before placing the final cake layer on top. Prepare the candied bacon praline to top the third cake layer.
- Place the butter, light brown sugar, and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients have melted together. Bring to a boil, and let the mixture boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the confectioner’s sugar and bourbon. Add the candied bacon and pecans, stirring until combined. Spread over the top of the cake immediately and allow it to set at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.