I have a really cheap (Rival) Belgian waffle maker that is old enough I can only find a replacement on eBay under "Vintage Rival Belgian Waffler." And the guy wants $40+ bucks for it AND shipping! Walmart has the new Rival version for ten bucks! Anyway, I have been making Belgian waffles in it for at least thirty years. Maybe forty! I don't think fifty, but who knows? So for the vast majority of those years it made absolutely fantastic Belgian waffles. I even created my own recipe just for it years ago. Buttermilk waffles that come out with a really crispy shell on the outside and fluffy beautifully textured interior. Fool proof! UNTIL a housekeeper who should not have been a housekeeper because she didn't know how to keep house took the plates out of the waffler and ran them through the dishwasher! Since then, waffles stick, no matter what I do. Even spraying with Pam prior to each baking does not help. Obvious conclusion: Buy a NEW Belgian waffle maker!
So I searched, studied, read, evaluated. I learned that I don't want round Belgian waffles! A four inch square can be packed with more fruit and whipped cream (not that I serve Belgian waffles that way all that often) than a 4 inch diameter circle. Obvious. And if waffles were intended to be round, they would have round holes in them after they bake instead of square. Something bugs me about a round waffle with a bunch of mutilated square dimples around the edges. But that's just me. I also decided I did not want one of those elevated waffle irons (they come in one and two waffle models) that you have to turn over to enssure the batter is cooked on both sides (or whatever turning the waffle iron a half turn does) that require more attention than just pouring the batter in, closing the lid, taking the waffles out when they're done. Ultimately, I decided on a Cuisinart from amazon.com. It makes four waffles at a time and has bells and whistles like a beep when it's ready and a beep when the waffle is done to the setting you've chosen. What could be better than that? It arrived a week ago, but today was the first opportunity to give it a try.
BUMMER...! If you like uncrisp soggy waffles that deflate as soon as you take them out of the waffle iron, and that cook holes all the way through the waffles where the dimples are, and that make you wish you'd made English muffins from scratch for lunch instead of Belgian waffles, this is your machine!
But that only pushed me to try to figure out why. Obviously my great created-it-myself Belgian waffles from scratch recipe does NOT make great Belgian waffles in just any old waffle iron. I THINK I have things figured out. The "dimplers" (those raised platforms that increase the cooking surface and make waffles waffles) are shaped very differently in each of these waffle irons. In the ancient Rival machine, they are almost vertical sided platforms with just a bit of cant on the platform sides and a little round dimple in the center of the top of the platform. In the Cuisinart, the platforms are more like pyramids with the cap knocked off. The Cuisinart also locks the lid down once you close it, thereby restricting the batter from rising to its fullest potential the way the Rival allows with a floating hinge. I think the Rival originally came with another set of plates for grilling so the machine opens and folds flat for that use, as well as floats to accomodate grilling thicker foods on both sides at the same time. When I make waffles in the Rival, the lid rises and about a full quarter inch of cooking batter shows through the sides. It's exciting to watch! No show anything close to that with the Cuisinart. And I think the shape of the dimplers and the floating hinges are what make the difference between crisp on the outside heavenly on the inside Rival waffles and mottled almost burnt and barely tanned surface spotting of dense, wimpy, soggy waffles with the Cuisinart. I also suspect the Cuisnart must make waffles that some people like or they wouldn't still be making them. It just doesn't work for me!
So the Cuisinart is going back to Amazon for whatever recycling they choose to do with it. I am trying ONE MORE TIME to rehab the old plates to my ancient Rival. If I could just figure out how to remove that Teflon coating I could cure the plates like a wok and have a really great waffle iron! And if all else fails, Walmart now has new Rival Belgian waffle makers for ten bucks. But I'll have to go to a Walmart and examine the dimplers and hinges before I give 'em ten bucks for one. Here's to rehab! Hope it works!
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