The waffle that your machine produces greatly depends on the kind of batter you use. The proportions and the ingredients can drastically affect the quality and texture. So, to best reflect the performance level of each waffle maker, we test them using three separate recipes.
By comparing the scores between each recipe, you can see how well the performance of the waffle maker carries between different recipes. On a grander scale, you can also see how it fares against other models on the market.
This article is all about our self-mixed recipe, designed to ascertain how the waffle maker deals with a made-from-scratch batter.
Why the Test Matters
Despite the widespread availability of pre-mixed batter, many people still prefer to make their own waffle batter from scratch.
It’s not just because it’s simple and cheap to make, but also because self-mixing allows for greater versatility. You can change up the proportions or the ingredients to suit your personal taste. As such, a waffle made from a self-mixed batter is almost always going to taste better than one that’s baked from an out-of-the-box batter mix.
Since this is the definitive way to make waffles for so many people, this test is one of the more important ones in our review.
- 225g all-purpose flour
- 15g baking powder
- 500g milk
- 2 eggs
- 20g oil
- 8g vanilla extract
- 22g honey
- A pinch of salt
Our testing methodology is built from the ground up. For each step that you see in this guide, there would be countless trials and errors and meetings behind them. It took us an entire month to finalize the testing structure and began testing in earnest.
Temperature - Timing Calibration Test
No two waffle makers are similar to one another. Each one will have a different control system. The arrangement and strength of their heating elements will also undoubtedly differ. As such, it makes it very difficult for us to compare the performance of each model accurately.
That’s where the calibration test comes in. The primary goal of this test is to find the optimal temperature and time setting that would result in the best-quality waffle. It allows us to judge each waffle maker more fairly. It also makes it easier for us to compare them all with one another by equalizing all models to their best.
We first use the accompanying user manual to find the temperature and timing settings recommended by the manufacturer. The first batch is produced with this setting.
After our in-house chef has judged its quality, our reviewers make adjustments based on their recommendations (lowering temperature, increasing time, etc.)
We repeat this process until we have found the best settings possible based on the quality of the last waffle.
The Calibration Process
We perform a minimum of three small tests to figure out the best cooking time for each waffle. These tests only aim to find the best cooking time for each waffle maker. Temperature is usually adjusted to around 180°F and 200°F and fixed there. For waffle makers that don’t have a browning level dial, we wait until the plates’ temperature is between this range, then pour the batter in.
Now the real test can begin.
Once the waffle maker has been preheated to the aforementioned optimal temperature setting, we use a ladle to pour the batter onto the hot waffle plates. The lid is closed when the batter fills up the plates. A timer — set to the correct cooking time — is started the moment the lid snaps closed.
After the set time runs out, the lid is opened and the waffle is transferred out onto the plate. We will proceed to judge the quality of the waffle using the following scoring system.
A finished waffle is scored using three key metrics: coloring (35%), texture (25%), and taste (40%).
For a waffle to be considered “visually appealing”, its coloring must be just right. It should be a perfect golden brown. The color shouldn’t look so dark that it seems burnt, but not so light that it feels like the batter hasn’t been fully cooked, either.
We decide the waffle’s overall scoring based on the general color tone of the waffle’s crust.
In addition to the color tone, we will also take into account the uniformity of the coloring. The color tone should spread evenly throughout the waffle without any unusually dark or light spots. Scores are deducted accordingly based on how heavy the discolorations are.
- Golden brown — no or very few discolored spots: >=9
- Slightly darker or lighter than normal — minimal discolored spots: >=7
- Darker or lighter than normal — several discolored spots: >=6
- Very dark or very light — numerous discolored spots: 0 - 5.9
Texture refers to the softness of the waffle. The perfect waffle should be pliant enough that it would melt on the tongue, but not so soft that it would break apart when picked up, either. Additionally, it shouldn’t be so burnt that it becomes crumbly.
We also take note of the amount of air bubbles present inside of the waffle. They’re formed via a process called aeration. Air bubbles contribute to the waffle’s fluffiness. The more numerous and pronounced the air bubbles are that we observe in the waffle’s core, the better the final score.
- Perfect texture (Multiple bubbles observed, good springiness): Over 9.0
- Good texture (Good number of bubbles, springy but may not fully come back to original shape): 6.5 - 9.0
- Mediocre texture (Small number of bubbles, springiness is minimal): 5.0 - 6.5
- Bad texture (Little to no bubbles observed, does not return to original shape at all after compression): Below 5.0
Palettes can differ vastly from one person to another. Some people prefer their waffles to be soft, fluffy, and sweet, while others like them dark, crispy, and bitter.
Because the test is such a subjective factor, we rely on interviews. When a test batch is cooked up, we deliver them to our in-house chefs for tasting and grading. Using a 0-10 scale, they will grade the waffles based on the overall quality.
Directly overseeing the taste-testing process will be our chef, Tuyet Pham.