I think we can all agree that waffles are an amazing treat and a great alternative to pancakes. The only real issue is that they can be a bit tricky to make if you’re not completely sure what you’re doing. Like anything cooking or baking-related, it’s difficult to get it right without the experience, and you’re bound to run into at least a few mishaps along the way.
It’s easy to think that your waffles are going to be perfect until you open your waffle maker only to see them looking back at you, all flat and dense.
Fortunately, this is a learning opportunity for you to see what went wrong.
Waffles won’t rise if there isn’t enough gas in the batter. Whipping the egg whites before adding them will incorporate a lot of air, which allows the waffles to rise correctly. Similarly, if you have a yeasted batter, allowing enough time for the yeast to produce gas results in perfectly light waffles.
Like most things, getting perfect waffles will take practice, and you’ll only start to be able to make good waffles once you’ve put in that practice and have had the experience of making some mistakes.
I’ve listed the most common mistakes below, so you can have a look through them and see where you’ve gone wrong.
There are absolutely loads of mistakes you can make when making or baking anything, but waffles have pretty common mistakes which cause a lot of people to make bad waffles. Let’s have look at them.
Not Whipping Ingredients Before Adding Them
Incorporating air into the batter of baked goods is a key part of making sure that your bakes get enough rise to them. It’s why you see recipes call for creaming the butter and sugar, or whipping the egg whites.
Similarly to so many other baked recipes, you’ll see waffle recipes call for whipping egg whites until they’re either soft or stiff peaks. Whipping egg whites incorporates a huge volume of air and they hold onto it very well. It’s obvious to see that the whites go from a liquid to a literal white foam.
If you’re whipping your egg whites and you’re still not getting the rise you want, you may just not be whipping them enough.
Plenty of people don’t whip in enough air, which results in less than ideal results. You’ll know the whites are whipped enough when you lift the whisk out of the bowl and the whites hold the peak. If the egg whites are still very soft and fall quickly, they’re not ready.
You can either whip the whites with a hand whisk, which can take a while, or you can use an electric mixer, which saves both time and your arm from aching. I’d recommend an electric one if you have one, but using a hand whisk still works and gives you a good workout.
Not Heating The Waffle Iron Up Enough
Without enough heat, your waffles will come out disappointing.
When only a small amount of heat hits the waffle batter, it won’t be enough for whatever leaveners you’re using. When using any leaveners like yeast, baking soda/powder, or whipped egg, they require a lot of heat initially so plenty of gas can be produced and they can rise.
The idea is to get plenty of gas production at the start of the cooking process, so it leavens the waffle before the structure sets in place. If it doesn’t rise within the first minute or so, a dense structure sets rather than a light one, which results in a bad texture.
Not Giving The Yeast Enough Time
If you’ve ever made bread, you know that yeast takes a long time to do its magic.
Without allowing the yeast enough time, it won’t be able to lift the batter, so the waffles will become dense.
Yeast needs plenty of time to eat away at sugars and starches in the batter in order to produce the gas that allows rising.
If you’re adding yeast and trying to cook the waffles right away, it’s not going to work as the yeast can’t do anything in the cooking process.
What you need to do is cover the batter and allow it to rest until it doubles in size. This takes an hour or so in a warm place. Then you can use it and get the fluffy waffles that you’re after.
You Overmixed The Batter
Mixing the batter results in some gluten development, which is needed in order to give the waffles structure. Mixing is generally okay to do, but if you mix too much, you’ll end up developing too much gluten in the batter, which will result in more than a dough than a batter.
Too much gluten will tighten the structure of the waffle as well as give it a chewy texture.
When you mix the batter, you want everything to be combined just enough. Don’t continue mixing for the sake of mixing.
You Can’t Trust Old Leaveners
If you don’t bake all that often, you’ve probably got some old ingredients in your pantry. If you have old leaveners like baking soda or baking powder, they may be much less effective. If you have old yeast, it’s probably dead and needs to be replaced.
Top tip: Dried yeast lasts almost forever when stored in an airtight container in the freezer.
You might be doing everything else right, but if your leaveners are old, your waffles won’t be good. It’s important to test your leaveners if you’re unsure about whether they’re still good or not.
Fortunately, it’s easy enough to test if your leaveners are still active.
To know if baking soda is still active, mix it with some vinegar. If it’s active, it’ll be pretty obvious, since it’ll be fizzing. If it doesn’t do anything, you’ll need to replace it with some fresh stuff.
To know if baking powder is still active, pour some boiling water over it in a heatproof bowl. If it bubbles and foams, it’s still in good shape. If it doesn’t react, you’ll have to replace this stuff too.
To know if yeast is still active, mix it in with some warm water and a large pinch of sugar or a large spoonful of honey. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes and the surface of the water should have a thick foam floating on top. If there’s no foam, it’s most likely dead.
What To Do Next Time
Mistakes will be made. It’s up to you to correct them next time and start to make perfect waffles. Here’s what you can do next time to ensure you’re getting a good rise on your waffles.
Whip The Egg Whites Before Adding Them
By whipping the egg whites, you’re incorporating air into them, which is then folded into the batter, making it lighter.
When the batter hits the heat of the waffle iron, it causes both gas expansion and steam, so the waffle rises as it should.
Add enough whipped egg whites and you’ll have some of the lightest waffles you can get.
Preheat Your Waffle Iron Properly
You might be missing something when it comes to working your waffle iron. If you’re using it without ever looking at the instructions, that might be the problem.
Take a look at the manufacturer’s instructions so that you know exactly how to work the thing.
I know you probably don’t want to, but it’s important to know how long to preheat the waffle iron for.
As I said earlier, if your waffle iron isn’t preheated properly, your waffle isn’t going to rise properly.
Double Check The Recipe
Okay, so we can all make mistakes, regardless of how easy something might be.
Although following a recipe is generally a simple thing, it’s still very easy to miss ingredients or misread amounts. In fact, it’s easy to make mistakes in these types of recipes because they’re so simple.
Whenever you’re following a recipe, you should double or triple checking the ingredients and what you need to do with them before doing anything.
I know how easy it is to think you know what you’re doing and just get on with it, but this attitude leads to annoying mistakes that could easily be avoided.
Okay, so you know what to do and what not to do now, so you should be much more prepared to make tasty waffles.
It may still be a game of trial and error though.
Despite having the tips above, your waffles might not be perfect, but that’s to be expected. Like with anything, waffles do take plenty of practice to get right. You’ll need to test different waffle makers and recipes before you can find one that works great for you.
With enough practice, you’ll be cooking up perfect waffles every time. I know it.