Using a cast iron waffle iron on a stovetop, grill or open fire can be a bit of a challenge for a first-timer. But really, all it takes is a little practice. With these tips, you should be knee-deep in waffles in no time.
Cast Iron Waffle Making Tips
As with many modern conveniences, purists prefer the extra-crispy, thin waffles only cast iron can make and have banished their electric equivalent to the basement. If you want to get back to waffle basics, follow these tips.
- Start with a seasoned cast iron waffle pan. If your waffle iron has wooden handles, it cannot be seasoned in the oven and must be done on the stovetop.
- Have heavy pot holders or oven mitts at the ready because the handles will be extremely hot.
- Before pouring the first waffle, heat the iron for 10 minutes over medium heat (in the case of a gas stovetop, flames should not lick up around the sides of the iron). Flip the iron a few times during this process so both sides are evenly heated.
- If you have a non-contact infrared thermometer, point it at the waffle iron and if it registers 425 degrees F, the iron is ready.
- If you open the lid of the iron and it smokes a lot (a few wisps when you first open it are OK), then the iron is too hot. Remove it from the heat for a few minutes, reduce the flame and heat again.
- Based on the size of your iron, pour enough waffle batter so that it comes about 3/4 inch shy of the edges to allow for expansion. You might need to experiment with your model for the optimal amount of batter to use.
- Immediately close the lid, using oven mitts. Cook for about 1 minute. Using oven mitts, flip the iron and cook an additional 2 minutes. Open and remove the waffle with a fork. Based on the results of your first waffle, adjust the cooking time and heat. Let the waffle iron reheat before pouring the next waffle. Repeat with remaining batter.
- When finished cooking, remove waffle iron from heat and open the lid. While it is still warm, but not hot, clean it by wiping the interior and exterior with a dry paper towel or cloth. Use a sturdy pastry brush to whisk away any crumbs caught in the iron's grids. It shouldn't be necessary to use water but, if that's unavoidable, never soak the iron in water and dry immediately after washing.
- To protect the iron from rust-causing moisture, lightly rub a small amount of vegetable oil into its crevices and surface but not so much that it becomes sticky.
- Store the cleaned, cool and seasoned cast iron waffle iron in a cool, dry place away from moisture or rust-causing situations.
Simple Cast Iron Waffle Recipe
Waffles made in a cast iron pan are decidedly different from those made in a conventional or Belgian waffle maker. The former are thinner and crisper than those made in an electric maker.
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 large room-temperature eggs, separated
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or 2 cups cake flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 tablespoons melted, cooled butter
- In a medium bowl or stand mixer, beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a separate medium bowl, beat together egg yolks, milk, sugar, vanilla and butter until well incorporated.
- Gradually add reserved flour mixture, beating only until just combined. Do not overmix.
- Stir in 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter. Then, gently fold in remaining egg whites trying not to deflate the volume.
- Portion into a hot waffle iron until batter is within 3/4 inch of the edge to allow for expansion (see the note, below). Start with 1/4 cup batter, but this will take a little experimentation with your particular waffle iron. Close the lid. Cook for 1 minute. Flip the waffle iron and cook for 2 minutes. Remove cooked waffle with a fork.
- Let the waffle iron reheat and repeat with remaining batter. Adjust the cooking time based on the results of your first waffle. Serve warm with butter and syrup or fresh fruit and whipped cream.
Note: The iron should not be dragged across a glass or ceramic cooking surface because it might cause scratches. It should be lifted vertically before repositioning.
Benefits of Using a Cast Iron Waffle Maker
There are some real pluses to using a low-tech waffle maker. Consider these:
- Waffles made in a cast iron pan are thin and much crisper than conventional waffles, making them ideal for ice cream sandwiches and for those who like a crunchy texture.
- Cast iron waffles are lower in calories because, if the pan is seasoned properly, no additional fat is needed.
- Cast iron is not coated with harmful BPA plastics as many nonstick electric irons are, making cast iron waffles a safer eating choice.
- No electrical outlet? No problem. Cast iron pans can be used over a wood fire, on a grill, in an oven, and on any cooktop, including gas, electric, ceramic, glass and induction. Cast iron should not be used in a microwave.
Waffles Worth the Learning Curve
Using a cast iron waffle maker is easy as long as certain steps are followed. It takes a little getting used to, in terms of heating and cooking times, until the perfect waffle is achieved. In addition to a good recipe, patience and thick hot pads or oven mitts are essential for a tasty cast iron-made waffle that stays crisp under a deluge of syrup and butter.