Science of waffle making – Do you need to flip them over?

A while ago we bought a waffle iron as a present for someone else. It was actually one of those machines that could also make grilled sandwiches or use it as a grill for meat, etc.

When I think of waffle irons, I think of those machines that you can flip over to let the batter spread to the other side. This waffle iron however, didn’t have that option. It made me very wary of whether it would work. Nevertheless, we gave it shot since not everyone agreed with my doubts.

Good thing we did, cause I learned something new: waffles can be made in a waffle iron that cannot be flipped without any issues! Want to know why and how? Continue reading.

My waffle experience

I admit, I didn’t have a lot of experience making waffles. We don’t have a waffle iron (our grill doesn’t have the option and I don’t like having a piece of equipment that can only do waffles). So most of my experience in making waffles was in American hotels with that hotel-waffle-maker that simply can’t go wrong.

Nevertheless, those hotel waffles are great fun. You get to pour the pre-made batter in a waffle iron, turn over the iron and wait another 2 minutes before your waffles are ready!

making waffles in a waffle iron that doesnt flip over

Is it necessary to flip the iron when making waffles?

So there you go, my main reference with waffle making is in hotel breakfasts and hotel breakfast waffle irons. I reasoned you probably need a waffle iron to flip to make a good waffle. And I wasn’t the only one, when browsing the world wide web I found several people advocating for using a waffle iron that can flip.

Why flip the iron? The most simple answer is: they will cook faster. Once you pour batter on the iron the bottom will start to cook and spread. By flipping the iron, the batter flows to the bottom, again allowing direct contact, thus faster heating.

I also read that flipping the iron is done in case of large thick waffles. However, that seemed to be quite unnecessary to me. If both sides of the waffle iron are heated the heat into the waffle goes at the same rate for both sides. It will take just as long to get to the middle, whether you turn it or not. So if you managed to spread the waffle batter on both irons without flipping (which, as you will see in just a minute is exactly what happens super quickly) it doesn’t matter for heat penetration as to whether the iron is turned. The heat will have to travel the same distance from top and bottom so it will not matter whether it’s been flipped.

You can make waffles without flipping

Yes, you can! And here’s why.

A proper batter will contain leavening agents (baking powder in most cases, or baking soda). Once the batter is placed in the waffle iron and the lid has been closed, the batter will be heated considerably. This causes the leavening agents to do their work. They start producing a lot of gas (carbon dioxide), causing the waffle batter to expand. As long as you add enough batter it will simply rise until it can go no further, filling up all the spaces within the waffle iron (until it will ultimately overflow if you added too much…).

Good to know that as long as you’ve got a waffle iron heated on both sides, and enough leavening agent in your batter, you don’t need a waffle iron that flips to make great waffles!

freshly baked waffle with icing sugar
A freshly baked waffle, in winter time.

Two waffle recipes

Of course, if you’re a scientist, you don’t like doing just one experiment. So we made two types of waffles. To test the iron and see which style we liked best.

Both recipes are from Dutch blogs. The first is from Endless Weekend. This waffles is slightly sweeter and richer in flavour than the second one which is from Pauline’s Keuken. That recipe is far more neutral, but gets an extra sugar shot thanks to the blueberries.

Science of waffle making - Do you need to flip them over?
 
Author:
Ingredients
Waffle recipe 1 - Sweeter, approx. 12 waffles (not too big)
  • 125g melted butter (or margarine, both will work, make sure the butter is not hot when you add it, just warm)
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 250 ml milk
Waffle recipe 2 - More neutral, but with blueberries - again approx. 12 smaller waffles
  • 150g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 200ml butter milk
  • 100g blueberries (but feel free to add more, they're Jum with the waffles)
For both
  • Icing sugar to serve
Instructions
  1. The good thing is that both recipes are made in the exact same way, no need to adjust methods here.
  2. Mix the sugar, (butter)milk, eggs and butter together.
  3. Add about half this mix to the flour and bkaing powder. Mix together and try to get rid of as many lumps as possible. If all lumps are gone, add the rest of the liquid in one go. If not, add in two or three portions, allowing you to whisk away the last clumps.
  4. Fold in the blueberries.
  5. Turn on the waffle iron on the heat setting suitable for waffles.
  6. Pour a large spoonful of batter on the waffle iron (the optimal quantity will depend on your iron, just try it out).
  7. Close the lid of the waffle iron.
  8. Have some patience and leave the waffle as is for at least a couple of minutes. If you try opening it too soon the waffle will stick to the sides, causing you to rupture the whole thing (if you still did it, no problem, just close it back quickly, and leave to 'heal').
  9. Take the waffles out once they have a nice golden brown colour.

Ready to get those waffles rolling off your waffle iron? Be sure to check out my post about the consistency of a waffle batter.

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