Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande, are a specialty of northern France and portions of western Belgium. The original recipe, published in 1740 by Louis-Auguste de Bourbon in Le Cuisinier Gascon, is as follows: Take "deux litrons" (1.7 liters or 7 cups) of flour and mix it in a bowl with salt and one ounce of brewer's yeast barm. Moisten it completely with warm milk. Then whisk fifteen egg whites and add that to the mixture, stirring continuously. Incorporate "un livre" (490 grams or 1.1 pounds) of fresh butter, and let the batter rise. Once the batter has risen, take your heated iron, made expressly for these waffles, and wrap some butter in a cloth and rub both sides of the iron with it. When the iron is completely heated, make your waffles, but do so gently for fear of burning them. Cooked, take them out, put them on a platter, and serve them with both sugar and orange blossom water on top.
What we liked: This large and affordable unit makes four waffles at a time. The square waffles produced by this model don’t feature wells as deep as those of the Cuisinart or All-Clad, but they are chewy and tender, with crispy edges and peaks. The removable, dishwasher-safe plates are our favorite feature, as deeper-welled Belgian-waffle makers can be difficult to clean. This waffle iron is particularly worth considering if you typically use a store-bought waffle mix, which is less sensitive to inconsistent heating than homemade batter. The cord storage and locking handles make the Krups simple to store, even with its large capacity.
American waffles vary significantly. Generally denser and thinner than the Belgian waffle, they are often made from a batter leavened with baking powder, which is sometimes mixed with pecans, chocolate drops or berries and may be round, square, or rectangular in shape. Like American pancakes they are usually served as a sweet breakfast food, topped with butter and maple syrup, bacon, and other fruit syrups, honey, or powdered sugar. They are also found in many different savory dishes, such as fried chicken and waffles or topped with kidney stew. They may also be served as desserts, topped with ice cream and various other toppings. A large chain (over 2,100 locations) of waffle specialty diners, Waffle House, is ubiquitous in the southern United States.
Hamilton Beach's Belgian style waffle maker makes round waffles that can easily be split into eight individual waffle sticks, which kids and adults alike will love (we're already dreaming of setting up a waffle dip buffet table at brunch, plus the opportunity to carry waffles with us on the go). The product's deep grids — in addition to the deep overflow channel around their edge — make it near impossible for even the klutziest cook to spill.
Unlike most flip waffle makers, the Presto FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker doesn’t take up a lot of space when it’s not baking waffles. Its slim and sits low on the counter and it can easily be locked into place so it can stand up for storage. However, you do need to make sure you have room on the countertop to flip it completely over on its side after you fill it with batter. Rather than settings, the Presto has a timer which you set by pushing a tiny button. It is designed to beep with only two minutes remaining, but often, at that point, it didn’t beep and stopped counting down. Nonetheless, it produced evenly browned, crispy waffles one after another and it is among the less expensive Belgian waffles.
Today there are many (many!) Belgian waffle makers on the market. We set out to find the best one by making hundreds of waffles and by going the extra waffle-making mile by consulting a postdoc in MIT’s mechanical engineering program to learn the basic thermodynamic principles at work in waffle irons. After a month of waffles for breakfast and for lunch, we had a solid winner—an iron that made picture-perfect Belgian waffles, two at a time, in under 5 minutes.
Waffles remained widely popular in Europe for the first half of the 19th century, despite the 1806 British Atlantic naval blockade that greatly inflated the price of sugar. This coincided with the commercial production of beet sugar in continental Europe, which, in a matter of decades, had brought the price down to historical lows. Within the transitional period from cane to beet sugar, Florian Dacher formalized a recipe for the Brussels Waffle, the predecessor to American "Belgian" waffles, recording the recipe in 1842/43. Stroopwafels (Dutch syrup wafels), too, rose to prominence in the Netherlands by the middle of the century. However, by the second half of the 1800s, inexpensive beet sugar became widely available, and a wide range of pastries, candies and chocolates were now accessible to the middle class, as never before; waffles' popularity declined rapidly.
Waffle makers range widely in quality and features, not to mention in the waffles they produce. Opinions on what exactly constitutes a great waffle vary enormously from person to person. Some people want them brown and crispy, others like them softer and fluffier. We set out to find the model that could make the most broadly appealing waffles with the least hassle.
Cleanup is simple. After grids have cooled, brush crumbs from the grooves, and absorb any excess cooking oil by wiping with a dry cloth or paper towel. You may clean the grids by wiping with a damp cloth. To clean exterior, wipe with a soft dry cloth. After you are done, wrap the cord under the bottom of the unit and then turn it on its side for compact storage. It comes with a three-year warranty, as well as a recipe book.
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.