The technology of waffles is fourfoldfold: (1)the "iron" or mold in which the waffle is cooked; (2)the method of heating the iron; (3) the method of regulating temperature in the iron; and (4) the recipe for the waffle batter. We will explore the basic nature of each factor of technology. However, this discussion will barely scratch the surface. Those with very detailed appetites for information about Waffle Technology should consult:
Preheat the waffle iron. Sift the dry indredients into a medium sized bowl. Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites in smaller bowl. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. (If you are using an electric mixer, you can beat the egg whites first, then beat the batter without having to wash the beaters. The reverse is not true. If you beat the batter first and you have to wash the beaters before beating the egg whites.) Add the egg yokes, oil and milk all at one time to the dry indredients. Beat until there are no lumps in the batter. Fold the egg whites into the other batter using a spatula or other flat utinsel. Put a full 1/2 cup of batter in your waffle iron to make a 9-inch round waffle. This recipe makes about eight 9 inch waffles. Adjust the quantity by volume if you have an older waffle iron that maxed 4 or 6 inch waffles.
Electric waffle irons are available in flip and stationary models. Proponents of flip waffle makers suggest that they heat more evenly by better distributing the batter throughout the plates. After testing both styles with different batters to see if this was truly a useful feature, we found that our three high-end picks cooked all the batters on the top and the bottom evenly. There was no difference between our flip model and a high-end stationary model. We did, however, find the flip a useful function when comparing lower-end models cooking the thinner buttermilk batter. Ultimately, we didn't pick any low-end flip models because, although they may have heated more evenly than our budget picks, they cooked the batter so slowly that the waffles ended up too dense and heavy.
There’s a lot to love about the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker. It heats up and bakes faster than any other in our test. And it was one of the few that gave a very distinct range of shades from light to dark—although it’s beyond me why anyone would want their waffles pale and flabby. Not only is the appliance itself small and thin, it stands up for storage and the cord can be wrapped in the bottom. While there’s a light to indicate that it’s ready for batter and that waffles are fully baked, there’s no sound so you have to keep an eye on it. We think that’s a small drawback for a waffle maker this good and this inexpensive.
One feature of the Classic Round Waffle Maker which we loved was the browning dial with seven settings, allowing you to choose the exact crispness you prefer. Another was a “ready-to-eat” alert – when waffles are ready, the machine beeps to let you know. That’s a lot better than interfering with the cooking process by continually opening the lid to check on progress.
Of course, it's a waffle iron that makes it all possible. And while the same machine may spend the other 51 Sundays a year wedged in the back of your cabinet, when that craving strikes, it better be ready for the big leagues. Because if you're going to go through the motions—the ceremony!—of making homemade waffles, why bother with mediocre results? If that's what you wanted, you could just defrost some frozen ones.
Recipes for both Waffles and Fried Chicken appear in What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, (Abby Fisher, 1881). Mrs. Fisher was a former slave and her book is generally considered the first cookbook written by an African-American. Apparently, white people were eating waffles and fried chicken as well as recipes for the two appear in Mrs. Porter's Southern Cookery Book published in 1871.
One of our two budget picks, the Cuisinart Round Classic Waffle Maker (WMR-CA), makes consistently excellent waffles, and its compact design is perfect for small spaces. It produces just one round, thin waffle at a time (even smaller than what our runner-up makes), so this model is a good choice only if you like your waffles thin and crispy, and don’t need a high-volume waffle maker. The hardware is also cheaper feeling than that of our other picks.
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.
There are a zillion waffle irons. I own a bunch of them, but my favorite is the Manning-Bowman "Twin-O-Matic" both because of its unusual design and the way that it implicitly fosters "togetherness." The "twin" was designed by Karl Ratliff explicitly for the 1939 NEW YORK WORLDS FAIR. The Twin is a direct descendant of Mr. Cole's design but with an added Art Deco zest. This unique design won world awards and is the ONLY waffle iron shown in Tony Fusco's noted "ART DECO" BOOK, Volumes 1 and 2. It consists of 2 pieces: a double TOP/BOTTOM Waffle Iron derived from the Coles patent (above) and a circular chrome plated "trunion mount" that has 2 heavy Bakelite Cradles to support the irons. It is somewhat unique because it has both a Thermometer and a Thermostat.
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 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.
Oil is best for making these; butter just won’t cut it. If you’ve the time to make clarified butter, it works well here. For those of us that haven’t the time to do so for a batch of waffles, feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil. I used sunflower oil, but vegetable, canola, etc. would work well too. For a bit of flavor, coconut oil is a great option.
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.)
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.