Waffle tips: building a better waffle, step by step

When was the last time you made waffles?

A long time ago, huh? And why is that?

Oh, because they’re too much fuss on a weekday, when everyone’s buzzing around the kitchen slapping PB on toast and standing in line for their turn at the Keurig.

And then Saturday rolls around, and you’ve got a million things to do, starting with hitting the gym… Sunday, blessed Sunday, is a day of rest. A bagel and cream cheese is your upper limit of effort in the kitchen, so there you have it: the weeks go by, and NO WAFFLES.

Which is a shame. A well-made waffle is every bit as pleasurable as a perfectly flaky Danish pastry, or sumptuous eggs Benedict. Add whipped cream and fruit, and you’re approaching fancy hotel $22 breakfast levels.

So, why don’t you make waffles more often?

Because you have to drag out the waffle iron, that’s why. And it’s in the back of the cupboard, behind the Tupperware and your old electric eggbeater, and who wants to move all that stuff and then put it all back, just to make waffles?

I’m with you. My 39-year-old waffle iron sits unused in the pantry, buried under a haphazard landslide of other seldom-used gear, awaiting its once-a-year-or-so appearance. In fact, it’s usually my husband, Rick, who finally retrieves it; waffles were one of the things he became “expert” at during his bachelor days.

I recently found myself craving a waffle. Maybe it was a couple of food porn waffle pictures I saw on Instagram recently. Or maybe I’ve simply grown tired of the daily glass of almond milk mixed with Ovaltine. At any rate, I thought I’d turn this craving into a blog post – because between me, Rick, and many years of sporadic though happy waffle making, we have some waffle tips to share with you.

P.S. After making a couple of batches of absolutely delicious, crunchy/tender waffles, I’ve rearranged my shelves for easier access to the iron. Because it will surely be making more regular appearances from now on.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #1: Add a bit of spice.

Waffle batter is a simple combination of eggs, butter/oil, milk, flour, salt, and leavening. It’s a blank palette, awaiting your favorite spice. I love both vanilla and cinnamon; add a touch of nutmeg for doughnut-like flavor.

How much should you add? For a typical waffle recipe, I’d add 1 teaspoon vanilla, or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Want to add all three? Go right ahead! Allspice and ginger give waffles a winter holiday flavor, while lemon oil or extract is perfect for summer – especially if you’ll be topping the waffles with fruit.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #2: Warm your liquid ingredients.

Why? Two reasons. First, if your recipe calls for melted butter, stirring it into cold buttermilk will coagulate it, leaving you with little nuggets of solid butter which refuse to become one with the batter.

Second, liquid ingredients blend together more easily and completely when they’re all around the same (warm or room) temperature. Consequently, when you add them to the dry ingredients, you won’t have to stir as long to make a smooth batter.

Think of waffle batter as you would pie crust or biscuit dough: the less handled, the less gluten development, the more tender the end result. Don’t beat your waffle batter; for light and tender waffles, stir just to combine.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #3: Separate the eggs and whip the whites before adding them to the batter.

This seems like an unnecessary step, on the face of it. Won’t the egg whites just lose their air when the waffle batter is flattened and baked in the iron?

As it turns out, no. Above, at left, is a waffle made without whipped egg whites. On the right, one made with whipped whites. The difference is fairly subtle, looks-wise, but when you eat them side by side, waffles made with whipped whites are noticeably lighter.

One caveat: more isn’t better. Whip whites only until soft peaks form (as pictured above); they shouldn’t be insubstantial and cloud-like, but should mound in the bowl. Too-stiff whites won’t blend easily with the other ingredients (see tip #2, above).

Also, make the waffles ASAP, once you add the egg whites. This isn’t a batter you want to stow in the fridge overnight, or let “season” on the counter while you fry the bacon. The whites will gradually deflate.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #4: Unless your waffle iron is reliably non-stick, grease it before using.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I made the mistake of thinking my ancient iron must be “seasoned” by now, and wouldn’t need to be greased. WRONG – as the picture on the right graphically proves.

Rick swears the best bet is to brush the iron with melted butter; I prefer vegetable oil. Either way, we find that a simple spritz with a can of non-stick vegetable oil spray doesn’t do it. When using an older iron, take the time to use a pastry brush to paint all the nooks and crannies with the fat of your choice.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #5: Figure out ahead of time how much batter to use for each waffle.

A scant 3/4 cup batter in this deep-pocket 7″ Belgian waffle iron, enough batter to completely cover the surface of the iron, makes a perfectly round waffle. Some waffle irons will ooze batter from the sides if you fill them completely; not this one.

My shallow-pocket, standard American iron needs 1/2 cup batter for each 5″ square waffle; so the amount of batter you use will change, iron to iron. Take the time right up front to learn your iron’s optimal capacity, and from then on you’ll make perfectly round waffles.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #6: Don’t lift the lid until the iron stops steaming.

How do you know when your waffle is done? Some irons tell you via a light or a beep; with some, you just have to guess. A good clue is to NEVER open your iron until steam has stopped seeping out its sides.

I ignored that advice (above) to prove the point, opening the iron while it was still steaming. The waffle looked lovely, but was completely stuck to the top plate. After giving it a couple of additional minutes in the iron, it slipped out easily.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #7: Serve with room temperature or warmed butter.

A cold pat of butter atop a hot waffle will just sit there. Unlike pancakes, most waffles don’t have much interior to keep them warm; as soon as they’re out of the iron, they cool quickly. Using room temperature or even slightly warmed butter will give you a better melting-butter-and-syrup eating experience.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Waffle tip #8: Keep finished waffles warm in the oven.

You’re not baking just a single waffle, right? Most recipes make 5 to 7 waffles. Unless you’re going to sit down and eat the first one, then make the rest later, keep the finished waffles warm and crisp in a 200°F oven. Placing them right on your oven’s rack will prevent sogginess.

Waffle Tips via @kingarthurflour

Now, tell me again why you don’t make waffles more often?

Looking for a good waffle recipe? I highly recommend The Best Waffles Ever, which includes a “secret ingredient:” a touch of cornmeal/cornstarch, for extra crunch. Does your favorite waffle recipe have a secret ingredient? Share with all of us in comments, below.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Margy

    How about liege (yeast) waffles with pearl sugar? I get them every Sunday from a stand at our local farmer’s market, and would love to make them at home, especially when the market closes for the season.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Those are delicious! We’ll put them on our fall to-do list! Happy baking-Laurie@KAF

  2. Christina

    I too make my waffles when its feeding time for my starter. KA sourdough waffles (with buttermilk, though I use kefir) is great.

    I’m thinking spices next time.

    Reply
  3. cle

    Buttermilk makes the waffles even lighter and fluffier. I don’t care to drink buttermilk so I use my mom’s and grandmother’s substitute. Add 1 TBS of white vinegar to a cup of milk. Let it “curdle” a bit, then add to recipe. I prefer the vinegar to lemon juice which can also be used.

    Reply
  4. Jen in Madison WI

    PJ I never miss your blogs. You are just about exactly my speed as far as baking, I have two favourites when I do waffles, and I always feel that the time, the mess and the shear indulgence of a waffle splurge calls for out of this world waffles. Waffle 1; I have my great grandmothers old recipe that calls for melted butter and a cast iron waffle iron that I found at an antique shop to make them on. There is no comparison to the modern American electric ones. Waffle 2: your recipe for Belgian waffles calling for yeast. Mix it up the night before and tuck it into the fridge while you sleep. Bring up yo room temp in the morning and bake in the Belgian waffle iron. Wow. So hood you can eat them plain!

    Reply
  5. Daniel Shumski

    Can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that you have easier access to the waffle iron. Good things happen when the waffle iron comes out (or stays out)! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Sue Bibee

    Thank you for your wonderful guide to the waffle. I also make a lot of waffles. I use a recipe that calls for brown sugar instead of white sugar for the sweetener. I usually chop pecans finely and put them over the waffle before I close the lid with a grind of fresh nutmeg. I put more pecans over the finished waffle with the maple syrup. I will use your tips of warming the liquid, I do get the coagulation from the melted butter. Thanks again

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you’d like to print just the recipe, go to the recipe here: http://bit.ly/1JNXCEG Under the title, you’ll find the icon of a printer that says “Printable Version”. It will eliminate most of the pictures and all of the comments. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  7. Edward Garren

    I found this recipe decade ago, still love it. The corn is just the right touch. If you really want to go “fresh” and “natural” scrape some white corn off of a husk, uncooked. The sweet crunchiness is perfect in the waffles. And yes, separating the egg whites and beating them is essential to fluffy waffles. Enjoy !!!

    CORN WAFFLES

    (From Sunset Magazine, March 1929)

    2 cups flour

    1 cup whole milk

    3 1/2 tsps baking powder

    2 eggs, separate and beat the whites stiff

    1/2 tsps salt

    1 cup corn kernels

    1/4 cup butter, melted

    Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in milk and egg yolks. Add corn and butter, fold in egg whites.

    Bake in in a hot waffle iron.Makes about 4 large waffles. (The egg whites are what make waffles “fluffy”)

    Note: Thawed frozen corn, or canned corn without liquid such as Nibblets may be used.

    Reply
  8. Kris

    OMG PJ, I have the same waffle iron (tip #4). I think it might be over 39 years old. I inherited it from my grandmother who died in 1984 and it was well used by then. It has the waffle grid on one side and a flat griddle on the other.I been making panini with it since before anyone knew what a panini was!

    Every time I use it, I am afraid it’s going to die! I also own a Swedish waffle maker which makes paper thin heart shaped waffles (basically a popover batter cooked in the waffle maker) and served with lingonberries and whipped cream. YUM!

    Reply

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