Finally, beyond the structural superiority of the All-Clad's waffles—their lovely architecture and delicate texture—there was one more winning factor that pushed them over the top: they just tasted better. I can't explain the chemistry behind it—as I said, we used the same batter for every test—but the waffles from this machine seemed to have nuances the others lacked, like apparent notes of vanilla and caramel and a toasty depth of flavor. They tasted like $200 waffles.
This Oster model made the most substantial waffles among the waffle makers we tested. About 1¼ inches thick, they looked like the kind you might get at a hotel brunch, puffy and evenly browned all over. Unfortunately, they were a bit dry and cakey, and none of our tasters liked them very much. The two sides cook quickly and then the waffle steams from the middle, creating a pronounced pale crevice where the waffle can be broken apart easily (good for sandwiches?).
Here are four ads for the Twin-O-Matic. Manning-Bowman always portrayed its products as being used in very fashionable surroundings. If you can't read the third ad, in the Quin cartoon, one Dowager says to the other: "Looks like our cook has been handling these. Thank Goodness I've got an unbreakable percolator." Manning-Bowman products were targeted at the ladies who had time to go to art museums, leaving the dirty work to servants.
Belgian and American waffles differ in size and thickness, which means you can’t use one waffle iron to make both kinds. Belgian waffles are taller—1 to 1½ inches thick—and have deeper wells than their thinner American cousins. Traditionally, they’re also made with a different batter. As Kathleen Purvis writes in the Seattle Times, “Most Belgian waffle recipes are yeast-based, to get that crispy texture.” But you can certainly put yeast-raised batter in a regular waffle maker (as we did in our tests). Likewise, you can put regular old Bisquick, baking-powder-leavened batter, or even pancake batter in a Belgian-style waffle maker. The resulting waffles will just have a different texture and flavor than those made with yeasted Belgian-waffle batter. Any kind can be crispy, depending, as Maichel told us, on the recipe you use and how hot the waffle maker gets: “The more oil [or fat] in your recipe, the higher the temperature you cook it at, the crispier your waffle will be.”
Earliest of the 16th century waffle recipes, Om ghode waffellen te backen – from the Dutch KANTL 15 manuscript (ca. 1500–1560) – is only the second known waffle recipe after the four variants described in Le Ménagier de Paris. For the first time, partial measurements were given, sugar was used, and spices were added directly to the batter: Take grated white bread. Take with that the yolk of an egg and a spoonful of pot sugar or powdered sugar. Take with that half water and half wine, and ginger and cinnamon.
The thermostat allows the automatic control of the temperature in the waffle iron. However, the "Twin-O-Matic" also has a thermometer -- a device that indicates the actual temperature of the iron. The principle behing the thermomenter is basically the same - a bimetallic strip is made with the property that its warping is a linear function of temperature. This strip is connected to a lever mechanism that causes the small needle to rotate. Hence, the position of the needle is a direct function of the temperature. The dial is calibrated to reflect this.
The Black and Decker G48TD earns a nod from the lifestyle website Groom and Style, and many positive reviews from users who like that it can make four waffles at a time -- a plus for larger families, although you'll get more even browning if you let the heating plates warm back up for a minute or two between uses. Of course, that four-waffle capacity means this waffle iron has a larger footprint that single-waffle irons, and you can't stand it on end to save storage space. But most say they're more than willing to give up some counter space to this appliance and a little bit of control over the final waffle color in exchange for its versatility and the ability to give it a thorough cleaning.
Just as important, nonstick surfaces are significantly easier to clean. This also means the waffle iron will last much longer, since you won’t be scratching the iron trying to clean it out. Many experts suggest using some kind of oil (be it butter or something veggie-based like a spray) to help release your waffle from the iron, but even after a few years of testing our non-stick coatings have held up well and we wouldn’t say that oil is necessary. A little bit of butter is very nice, though, and gives some extra crispiness.
American-style waffle irons are used to make traditional waffles, which are thin and crispy with relatively shallow pockets. This means they cook fairly quickly, too. The savory batter used for this type of waffle makes it particularly well-suited to making special shapes like hearts, or for use in place of bread for things like breakfast sandwiches.
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Like most electric waffle irons, the Cuisinart WMR-CA waffle maker isn't meant to be submerged, and the waffle plates are built right into the machine, so you can't remove them for a good scrubbing. Surprisingly, removable plates are relatively rare, especially in the American/traditional waffle maker category. But the Black and Decker G48TD (Est. $40) has them, which makes it very convenient to use. Not only do the non-stick waffle plates pop out for easy cleaning, they also have a completely flat reverse side (also non-stick). Flip the plates to their flat side and open the G48TD's lid all the way, and you have yourself a mini griddle for cooking things like pancakes and bacon; or close the "floating" hinged lid and use it to toast sandwiches.