So you just bought a waffle iron. Your big concern is to keep the batter from sticking, so you draw on previous cooking experience. You use grease for cake pans when you bake a cake and grease in a pan when frying. So, you assume you will use grease to keep your waffle batter from sticking to all those lovely little designs in your iron.
Not so fast. Sadly, there exists no consensus of opinion on whether or not you should actually grease those plates. And if you do, what method you should use.
The experts, those among us who make a habit of making waffles for breakfast and those who manufacture them, disagree on whether or not you should grease, and if you do grease, how you should do it.
Basically, manufacturers and waffle makers alike agree that if you have a solid cast iron waffle iron, you should season it before every use. That is, warm the iron then spread olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil or melted butter on the plates before you drop the batter onto them. Use a basting brush, oil sprayer, or paper towel to accomplish this little feat. The heat on the iron will help the grease spread more quickly and evenly.
If you have a non-stick waffle maker, some manufacturers say to never use any sort of grease on the plates because they have been treated and designed not to stick. And when cleaning, don’t scrub with any sort of abrasive chemicals as that will only serve to compromise the Teflon™ or other non-stick coating. Each time you use an abrasive on the plate, it will wear away a little more of that coating.
On the other hand, people who actually use these irons and make waffles say it’s perfectly okay to use some sort of grease before plopping your batter onto the iron for cooking, since nonstick irons don’t always work exactly the way they say they should. So, to make up for any lack of performance of the nonstick coating, they suggest olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, butter or, as a last resort, cooking sprays.
Advice on all fronts suggests you should carefully read the instructions that come with your iron and follow directions. You may be pleasantly surprised. If, however, the nonstick coating doesn’t quite meet your expectations, you have three basic methods to choose from for greasing your plates.
- The first one involves a basting brush, either a silicone brush or the usual traditional sort that looks like a paint brush. Dip it in oil or butter. Once the iron is hot, spread that grease over the grids making sure you generously slather every little nook and cranny because your batter will find its way into every one of them. That should take care of any sticking problems.
- The next is to use cooking spray; while not highly recommended, some cooks swear by it. The problem is that cooking sprays contain lecithin, a fatty substance derived from natural foods such as soybeans, eggs and milk. It does a great job as emulsifier by helping various ingredients in a product mix well together and stay mixed, but it’s not very soluble in water. For that reason, it tends to build up with repeated use. The lecithin will burn and leave a gunky, sticky residue that will result in very unattractive waffles that will dampen any appetite.
After all is said and done and you still choose to use a cooking spray, spray for two seconds on the top grid and two seconds on the bottom grid. This method also works for veggie or gluten-free batter since these types of batters tend to stick more.
- The final method entails adding a little extra grease to your recipe so that as your waffles bake, that little extra bit of grease will push out of the batter onto the grid to prevent the batter from sticking.
In all of these methods, make sure the iron is hot before you add the grease. If you choose to use butter, make sure it is melted and that your iron is not too hot, then begin cooking immediately.
In the end, carefully read your manufacturer’s directions regarding whether or not you should grease your waffle maker, and if so, what method to use. Try following them at first to see how they work for you. Then make any changes you think necessary that will enhance your waffle making experience and your waffles.
Remember, not only do they have to taste good, but as with any food, they have to look good too. Then create those wonderful breakfast treats that cause your family’s palates to yearn for waffles with butter, maple syrup, strawberries, whipped cream, etc.