Waffles. We all love waffles, especially topped with all those delicious goodies like maple syrup, butter, strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream. Sorry, I lost my restraint there for a moment as I imagined the joy of this great breakfast food.
So, to get to the waffle feast, you have to make the batter, prepare the iron, and then place the batter on the grid and cook them. But how hot should and for how long should you cook them? That depends on how you like your waffles.
Time and temperature always work together in the cooking process to produce the desired finished product. Right now, we’re going to concentrate on the variable of time.
Start by reading the manufacturer’s instruction manual that came with your machine. That will give you some idea of temperature settings. Most likely, following the instruction manual exactly to the letter will give you a waffle close to what you want, but then you’ll have to work with the time and temperature to get exactly what you want.
Today’s waffle irons make life so much easier than in times past. Most have an indicator light or a beeper that will tell you when enough time has elapsed and that your waffle is ready to serve. The trick here is to set the timer. So where do you set it?
The average time it takes to cook an average waffle is about 4-5 minutes. But there’s the problem. The word “average” and the word “about” don’t tell you a whole lot. What if you want it lighter, or darker? And what about your particular waffle maker? How well is it calibrated?
Some waffle makers can produce a crispy waffle in 4 minutes while others may take 5 or more minutes to give you the same result.
I say experiment, particularly if this is a new waffle maker for you or if some time has passed since your last waffle-making session. We can’t always remember how we used to do things.
Mix up your batter and begin by using 5 minutes as your starting point. Close the lid. You’ll notice lots of steam rising from your waffle maker. That’s a good sign. That means the extra moisture is evaporating from the batter. The more moisture that escapes, the crispier your waffle will be.
When that waffle has cooked for 5 minutes, take a look at the color. Ask yourself if it’s brown enough? Is it crisp enough? Once you make this assessment, determine if you want it lighter or darker. Lighter will be less crisp and darker will necessarily be more crisp.
If you want it more crisp, try sneaking up on your preferred level of doneness in 30-second increments until you get to the desired crispness. If you want it lighter, try baking your waffle for less time in 30-second increments.
Make sure you keep the temperature setting the same because you don’t want to introduce any new variables into the equation.
In all this experimentation, try to avoid the temptation to lift the lid to see how things are progressing. You could really mess up the look of your waffle if you choose to close the lid again because you don’t think it’s brown enough yet.
If the waffle isn’t quite done enough, you could have half the waffle stick to part of the cook plate and make a real mess to clean up.
If you feel like you need to cook it at a higher temperature so the moisture can evaporate more quickly and take less time to bake, start over again at 5 minutes. Raise the temperature a bit and repeat the incremental process until you get the result you want. Make notes and keep them with your waffle maker so you can do it over and over to get the same results.
You may have to repeat the process several times for different levels of crispness because not everyone in the family likes their waffles done the same way. And in your notes, jot down the temperature and the amount of time you baked them at to get a certain level of crispness. You might also add who in your family prefers them this way.
In each case of this experimental process you’ll most likely get a very edible and delicious waffle. It will just be a matter of making a waffle that looks like and feels like you want it to.
As with anything, the more we do it, the better we get at it. Besides, cooking is an art and we should have fun with it. Get creative. Have fun. Open yourself to the possibilities. You may even learn that you don’t like your waffles as crispy as you thought. Go figure.