Crisp Waffles: Lessons in Texture
Ask most people to describe the feel of the perfect waffle, and they’ll say, “Crispy on the outside, light and tender on the inside.” Achieving those textures should simply be a matter of blending the ingredients with good technique and in correct proportion to one another, right? Not so fast. That’s only half the battle.
Aside from ingredients and mixing technique, there are 3 other factors that will determine the texture of the end product.
1. Ingredient Temperature: My breakthrough moment in waffle baking came when I accidentally overheated some ingredients I was trying to get quickly to room temperature. What had previously been a serviceable recipe suddenly achieved that crispy/light ideal. While this technique applies specifically to baking soda/powder-leavened waffles, it’s the most crucial crisping technique for such recipes. When the ingredients are warm, the batter can expand in the iron more freely, more moisture can escape, and the interior becomes light enough so that the exterior doesn’t reabsorb too much moisture post-bake.
2. Cook Time & Temperature: Not all recipes cook up the same way. While denser waffles (e.g., pumpkin waffles) may need over 5 minutes at 360°F, another (e.g., yeasted buttermilk) may need only about 3 minutes at a higher temperature. Finding the proper time and temp is a balancing act, which is why using a digital iron is the only option for true waffle enthusiasts and pros.
3. Undercooking & Going “Besquis” (twice cooked): With the exception of the Liège waffle here on the site, all the recipes are meant to be slightly undercooked. The premise is simple. If you subtly undercook the waffle, and then place it on a wire rack to cool, it will let off a considerable amount of moisture that it could not left off in the iron under any time/temp circumstances, without also burning the exterior. If you then put it back in the iron for a final 10-15 seconds of cook time, the baking completes and the outside re-crisps to perfection. So many recipes advise baking waffles fully and then putting them in a warm oven to keep them crisp. That’s both a waste of time and energy. The most efficient and delicious way is to lay the waffle back in the iron.
As a final note, I’d like to point out that whipped egg whites are generally unnecessary — except in some traditional recipes or under special circumstances — and additives like corn starch are completely unnecessary. Gaming the recipe is just lazy and often doesn’t work. Following the guidelines above is all that’s needed to instantly improve almost any formula, from Aunt Jemima’s mix to the most sophisticated batter.