Going Old-Fangled with My Wafflemaker

Most people who know me know about my obsession with cast iron—it’s sturdy (will last for generations), versatile (equally good on electric, gas, or campfire), almost as non-stick as teflon without the risk of its surface coating flaking off into your food, and economical (many fine specimens are available at antique stores and flea markets for $30 or less).

Still, when I bought my cast iron wafflemaker it was, in my mind, a curiosity piece: an unusual specimen from a bygone era. After all, I had a perfectly good wafflemaker that plugs into the wall and heats predictably, whereas the cast iron piece would have to sit on my burner and would only get heated on one side. As I purchased it, I decided it was a good thing that Aurora wasn’t with me because she probably would have vetoed the $50 price tag (even if she does on occasion talk me into buying pieces of cast iron that I’m on the fence about).

Once I got it home, I discovered how well-designed this antique actually is.

The waffle irons are two separate pieces that pull apart; they nestle together in a base, each half of the iron boasting half of a ball joint.

The flat sides of the ball fit together in the cast iron base

and everything is perfectly sized to allow the waffle iron to stand open (thereby making it a cinch to pour batter).

The joint also permits you to rotate the closed iron and switch which half is exposed to the flame.

And, voila… all of a sudden, the waffle maker was transformed from an exotic knickknack rarity to a tool of applicable practicality: if I heat the iron with one side toward the flame, stand it open and pour the batter; all I have to do is turn it immediately upon closing it to expose the cooler side to the flame. Halfway through the cooking process (about 2 1/2 minutes), I just give it another spin to make sure that both sides cook to an equal extent.

The result? Beautiful waffles.

As a result, I examined my Hamilton Beach machine in a whole new light. Its design lacks the flair of the Wagner. Even the trademark is not permanently affixed to the machine, but applied in such a manner that it is starting to fade after only eight years of moderate use.

And though I have cared for it well and its non-stick irons have naught a scratch on them, the first waffle it makes has a tendency to stick when you open it, resulting in a hassle-fraught experience of trying to scrape the remnants from between the chevrons with a wooden chopstick so as not to scratch the teflon. For some reason, subsequent waffles don’t seem to stick as much, so it’s possible that the problem could be corrected by letting the machine warm up several minutes longer.

But I just don’t think I’m up for solving the challenge—especially not when I have such a perfectly-performing work of art as the Wagner Ware waffle iron.  So… mediocrely-performing Hamilton Beach wafflemaker free to a good home. Comes with box and never-used sandwich-press flat plates.

7 Responses to “Going Old-Fangled with My Wafflemaker”

  1. QoE Says:

    I have always thought that you were just supposed to throw out the first waffle.
    My grandmother told me that was the way and my mother told me that was the way and I have passed it on to my sons and my grandchildren. If I can find a waffle iron like yours, we’ll see if things change.
    Love your blog!
    Cathy in MN

  2. mom Says:

    If I were you, I wouldn’t give away the new one just yet. There may be times when you want to make waffles for more than 2 and you can have your guests compare the two and rate them for flavor, etc.

    You might try putting a little bit of oil on a paper towel or brush and lightly greasing the non-stick grids before pouring in the first waffle. I’ve had some that tended to stick with the first one and others that work perfectly from the start.

    At least your Wagner doesn’t have the annoying smoke detector beeping sound that our new Villaware one does.

  3. stefanie Says:

    I, too, am a fan of cast iron. I’ve never come across a waffle iron before, though.

    I tried making waffles for the first time since childhood not too long ago, and the first few were disastrous, really a pain to scrape out with a chopstick even though I used plentiful oil.

  4. stefanie Says:

    And I love that word, oldfangled. I tried to use it wherever I could slip it in when I worked as a copywriter.

  5. justin Says:

    i would imagine greasing/oiling/buttering a waffle iron is similar to doing the same to a frying pan, i.e. you’d preheat it to the point that when you flick the surface with water from your fingertips, the water beads and dances across the surface (doesn’t stop and sizzle). at that heat, the oil forms a much more effective non-stick barrier on the pan surface, and my guess on the ruined waffles is that the iron surface just isn’t quite hot enough before you add the oil; by the second or third waffle, the iron has heated up sufficiently.

  6. justin Says:

    just to clarify my previous post, you would add the oil -after- the iron is sufficiently heated (after the water bead test). many people make the error of putting a pan over heat and immediately slapping down a pad of butter or slosh of oil.

  7. jwsharrard Says:

    Extremely good point—adding the oil too soon won’t work anywhere near as well. How I gauged when the waffle iron was ready to oil was when the faintest whiff of smoke was coming off the hotter side; I’d flip that side so it was on top, away from the heat, and then use a stiff brush to put an even but thin coat over the surface of both sides.

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