There are countless styles of waffles, including the light and crisp Italian gofri, the sugar-speckled Belgian liège, and the charming, heart-shaped Scandinavian vafler. For our testing we decided to limit ourselves to the two most common waffle styles in the United States, broadly divided into the "American" and "Belgian" categories. Although there are dozens of varieties of "Belgian" waffles alone, for marketing purposes, thicker waffles with deeper wells are considered Belgian, while shallow, thinner ones are categorized as American or "regular." Both American and Belgian waffles can be made in either a circle or a square shape, so it’s up to you to decide which form is more waffle-y to you.
You can freeze waffles -- why pay the Eggo people to charge a lot for something that you can make cheaply. After the waffles have been cooked in the waffle iron, put them out on a cooling rack. When they are cool, place them in a plastic bag taking out as much air from the bag as possible. Then freeze the bag of waffles. The next time you want a quick waffle, microwave one from the freezer for about 45 to 60 seconds. They are almost as good as fresh waffles.
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.
With all three batters, as well as our bonus rounds of stuffing and grilled cheese, there was a clear difference in the quality of results between higher-end, more expensive models and lower-end, budget models. The high-end models heated up significantly faster and hotter, and had a much shorter recovery time between waffles. They all have heavier plates than the lower-end models, resulting in even heat and consistent browning. The waffles made in our more expensive models all became deeply browned in under four minutes, while the less expensive models took anywhere from eight to 15 minutes. This resulted in huge variations in the density of the inside and the texture of the exterior of the waffles.
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.
Stroopwafels are thin waffles with a syrup filling. The stiff batter for the waffles is made from flour, butter, brown sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs. Medium-sized balls of batter are put on the waffle iron. When the waffle is baked and while it is still warm, it is cut into two halves. The warm filling, made from syrup is spread in between the waffle halves, which glues them together. They are popular in the Netherlands and Belgium and sold in pre-prepared packages in shops and markets.
The mechanisms of all stand-alone waffle irons are pretty much the same, and relatively unchanged from those of their stovetop predecessors. Traditional waffle makers consist of two molded cast iron plates connected by a hinge, and feature a long handle to keep your hand out of the heat. The iron is preheated over a stove before the batter is added, and the waffle is manually flipped. These traditional styles work well, but they require some coordination on the cook’s part, as well as attention to heat regulation.
What's the difference between Belgian Waffles and "regular" American-style waffles? According to Chowhound, Belgian waffles are bigger all around — in diameter and thickness — and also have deeper square pockets than their American counterparts. They are also traditionally made with yeast, which makes them light and fluffy. Regular waffles, on the other hand, are usually made with baking powder and are thinner and crunchier than Belgian waffles. Belgian waffles require a different kind of waffle maker.
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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.
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.
Sadly, those are the only nice things we have to say about the new Oster. Despite being rated for the same wattage and designed in nearly the same way (even the maximum warm-up temperature was basically identical to the old model when we checked with a K-type thermometer probe) this model does not cook satisfactory belgian waffles. We even sent the first machine we got back for a replacement, certain that it must be broken.
However, we found the absolute best value to come from the BELLA – 13591 Classic Rotating Belgian Waffle Maker. With just a slightly larger footprint than the Cuisinart, this will give you the tastiest, most consistent, and most evenly cooked waffles. Best of all, the BELLA is even quicker than our old top pick, so you can grab a cup of coffee and start enjoying those delicious waffles as quickly as possible.