The Liège waffle is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Native to the greater Wallonia region of Eastern Belgium – and alternately known as gaufres de chasse (hunting waffles) – they are an adaptation of brioche bread dough, featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and prepared in plain, vanilla and cinnamon varieties by street vendors across the nation.
We can’t say anything good about the Hamilton Beach Belgian Style Flip Waffle Maker (26010). It cost about $40 the last time we checked, and it’s worth maybe half that. Our notes literally say, “I would not wish this on my worst enemy.” Not only is the cord microscopically short, limiting the machine’s placement in the kitchen, but forcing the machine to flip over took quite a bit of effort in our tests. The resulting waffle was terrible: The batter slid around in the machine, pooling on one end and baking unevenly, with parts that were completely uncooked.
Unless you lead a life of leisure (or run a bed and breakfast) chances are your waffle iron is not going to be a daily-use appliance, so ideally you shouldn't have to allocate much of your kitchen real estate to store it. Since most waffle irons are pretty bulky, we paid special attention to the design—does the size of the machine make sense? Is the space well-used? Does it feel solidly built? Does seem like it will hold up well to cleaning and other wear and tear?
Some waffle makers are equipped with nothing but an on-off light and a "ready indicator," but even an increasing amount of budget-friendly models have extra features like numbered dials to adjust the preferred degrees of doneness, beeps or buzzers that indicate when the cook time is finished, and removable plates that can be popped into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
This did the job, but it sure wasn't streamlined. Here is a photo from a World War II era training pamphlet. The subject was "How to use electrical appliances." Many rural households were just getting electricity due to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the pamphlet was intended to get folks up to speed with the rest of the country. This photo shows the Government-approved method of "seasoning" a waffle iron (you put oil on it and let is burn in, creating the organic equivalent of Teflon). Any vegetable oil will do.
Brussels waffles are prepared with an egg-white-leavened or yeast-leavened batter, traditionally an ale yeast; occasionally both types of leavening are used together. They are lighter, crisper and have larger pockets compared to other European waffle varieties, and are easy to differentiate from Liège Waffles by their rectangular sides. In Belgium, most waffles are served warm by street vendors and dusted with confectioner's sugar, though in tourist areas they might be topped with whipped cream, soft fruit or chocolate spread. Variants of the Brussels waffles – with whipped and folded egg whites cooked in large rectangular forms – date from the 18th century. However, the oldest recognized reference to "Gaufres de Bruxelles" (Brussels Waffles) by name is attributed from 1842/43 to Florian Dacher, a Swiss baker in Ghent, Belgium, who had previously worked under pastry chefs in central Brussels. Philippe Cauderlier would later publish Dacher's recipe in the 1874 edition of his recipe book "La Pâtisserie et la Confiture". Maximilien Consael, another Ghent chef, had claimed to have invented the waffles in 1839, though there's no written record of him either naming or selling the waffles until his participation in the 1856 Brussels Fair. Neither man created the recipe; they simply popularized and formalized an existing recipe as the Brussels waffle.
The waffle maker has seven different browning settings to accommodate all tastes. Regardless of which setting you pick, the advanced heating technology ensures consistent cooking straight through the waffle. A special steam-release system prevents condensation from building up, too, thus ensuring that your waffle comes out crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
We are including a look at Table Broilers here because they are part of the "make it at the table" ethos that prevailed when electric appliances were relatively rare and consequently tres chic. Wealthy hostesses missed no chance to show off their shiny new appliances. In turn, companies like Manning-Bowman sold appliances that were more like chrome sculpture. When appliances became more commonplace, they were removed from the table and relegated to the kitchen.
"... No appetites are safe from the magnificent Southern Creole cuisine when visiting Wells restaurant, located uptown in the Big Apple. Famous for more than their chicken and waffles, Wells entertains customers with Caribbean flair and a frenzy of live music. Harlem hasn't been the same since Wells opened in May 1938. The owner, Elizabeth Wells, is determined to bring people a humble, homey atmosphere with exciting home-style cooking, but with a twist of island flavor and a lot of fun. Joseph T. Wells, the late husband of Wells, had a record of cooking techniques in the mix. Working as a waiter and manager of a restaurant in Florida, Joseph took his craft to New York during the late 1920s. It was inevitable for the young entrepreneur to start his business and, by the spring of 1938, the restaurant bearing his name opened its doors. Elizabeth Wells entered the picture later. They married in 1966, even though she had joined the establishment in 1963. The married couple produced a son named Tommy Wells. With an avalanche of victory for the restaurant, Wells bloomed as one of the greatest hot spots in Harlem, with a bevy of entertainers who dropped in...Wells has been spinning the wheels of the restaurant with tip-top soul food and no regrets..."
This illustration anthropomorphizes the Twin-O-Matic and notes that post-war demand for small appliances will be a "half billion dollars" (about $100 billion in 2005 dollars), and encourages dealers to sign up to sell Manning-Bowman appliances. This is actually a very sad artifact, because the Manning-Bowman company was in deep financial distress because they could not get materials -- particularly chrome -- during World War II. This was an attempt to sign up dealers so that credit and financing could be obtained to last out the materiel shortages imposed by the War. It did not work, and soon thereafter, Manning-Bowman sank into a sea of red ink. The company's assets, including its spectacular Art Deco designs, were sold to the Bersted Corporation of Fostoria, Ohio. Berstead watered down the designs and made low-priced "drug store" versions of many Manning-Bowman appliances. (The Sandwich Grill on our Kitchen Aplliances page is a good example of this "cheapening" process.) Alas, Manning-Bowman met an inglorious end, but it was merely a foretaste of the vast wave of shoddy appliances made in faraway dictatorships that suffocate the American marketplace today.
What’s more reassuring is when you sit down to tuck-in and the waffles are still crisp and warm. In my experience, a moderately warm oven can be helpful in maintaining ultimate crispness, but only in small batches. Large batches can end up unappetizingly rock-hard because they can overcook from the heat of the oven. A better approach to all of this is to toss the freshly made waffles— one at a time— back and forth between your hands. This essentially helps release any steam and allows for divine crispness. However, for another approach to this, I’ve some more tips.
Use one of our Pizelle makers to prepare cannolis that look like they were created by a pastry chef with a professional-style stove. Coated aluminum baking plates cook cannoli shells evenly and let the shells slide out without breaking apart. The cast aluminum plates also quickly recover temperature so the next batch can cook without losing a lot of time. The traditional size for a pizelle is just under 5", and a pizelle maker can cook two shells in just under 30 seconds.
It’s not always easy to compare waffle makers, because there are a number of different styles: those which make thick Belgian waffles, those which make thin and crispy American waffles, ones which can make both types, and even some which have both corrugated surfaces and flat surfaces so you can fry an egg at the same time you’re preparing a waffle.
Most modern waffle makers run on electricity and can be adjusted to produce lighter or darker waffles. Many, but not all, have indicator lights and audible beeps to cue you through the preheating, battering and cooking stages. Even more important, the waffle maker should maintain consistent, even heat to make sure your waffle isn't overcooked on the outside and mushy on the inside, or cooked in some places but not in others.
The Black+Decker Removable Plate Waffle Maker (WM700R) is a new model for 2016. You can take the plates out for washing, which is a huge plus, but unfortunately this machine fell short in several other ways during our testing. The indicator lights don’t tell you when a waffle is done, and it has no browning control. Plus, our waffles came out bready rather than crisp, and after a few rounds of baking, the handle got uncomfortably hot.
We’ve covered plenty of brunch-worthy appliances and tchotchkes in the past, including a waffle iron for Instagram-worthy waffles, eggcups à la Call Me by Your Name, the best French presses and pour-overs, and even skillets to make the perfect Chez Panisse–style eggs. Here, we’re doing a deep dive into the best waffle-makers available on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)