The first time, we knew nothing about it so we put our kids in the car and drove them to the swimming pool. Back then we were forever on a shark-like drive to be constantly in motion: it seemed to be central to life with two tiny people. They were 2 and 4, a barely controlled explosion of desires and emotions, everything lived and felt intensely. Forever in need of amusement or occupation, we their serfs/butlers/keepers took them to parks and museums, tiny trains and zoos and soft play warehouses on industrial estates. I spent half my life, it felt like, on moulded plastic chairs toying with a cup of terrible coffee in the strip lit, stale fat-scented play areas of Quick restaurants in out of town shopping centres, wondering if the sticky residue on the table was juice or something much worse.
This waffle maker is definitely for large families who prefer different types of breakfast meals. In the mood for waffles? You can cook four at a time with this baby. Some members want pancakes? You can remove the waffle plates and cook on the smooth griddle surface. The 180-degree hinge allows you to double the cooking area, perfect for creating a stack. Does someone want a sandwich? You can grill it using this appliance as well.
Since a waffle maker is a single-purpose kitchen item (though Will It Waffle? author Daniel Shumski and others are doing their best to change that), it should be small enough to store easily. That means no flip waffle makers, which easily take up twice the space. Don’t worry, though—you aren’t missing much. We did test a few flip models, and we found them to be no easier to use (and with worse results) than standard countertop models. “The reason flip models are designed that way,” Matt Maichel said, “is because gravity causes the batter to fall on the bottom plate, and you flip to mitigate temperature loss by putting some of the uncooked material on what was initially the top plate.” Maichel doesn’t use any flip models, because he doesn’t find that the feature actually improves cooking. Interestingly, we discovered that other pros prefer flip models. J. Kenji López-Alt expressed a strong preference for flippers, though his favorite is the stovetop variety that you manually flip. He said, “It makes getting the waffle out easier, especially if you’re doing sticky things. I rely on gravity.” We believe it takes practice and experience to get a good feel for obtaining the best results from flip models, so for most people, we don’t think they’re worth all the extra space they take up.
Unlike the Krups GQ502D, the Chef’sChoice 840B does not handle thin batter well—in fact, the manual explicitly states, “A thicker batter that pours slowly works best.” This model did a great job with Bisquick batter, turning out perfectly cooked waffles every time, but with our favorite yeasted batter it produced blotchy, limp, flat, and soggy waffles. So the Krups model is the winner in terms of versatility.
The Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker wins this category by a landslide, not because of fancy bells and whistles but because of the one thing it does very well: Turning out thin, crunchy American-style waffles. Cooking time is quick -- about three minutes per waffle -- and as long as you apply a little oil to the grid, its non-stick coating releases those waffles quickly and cleanly. The three-year warranty is impressive in this price range.