Tuesday, September 24, 2019

It's How Old?

Waffle Irons, Waffle, Kitchen UtensilI adore waffles covered with real butter and real maple syrup.  I actually will order waffles over pancakes any time because they are lighter and fluffier.  I've been playing around with yeast raised waffles but it's taking a bit to get the waffle just right.

In order to get the waffle, you have to cook it in a waffle iron.  According to records, there are indications that something similar to a waffle existed in Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greeks would pour a batter into hot iron plates with long wooden handles to cook Oblieos over a fire but we might not think of them as waffles because they were neither sweet nor savory.

In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church produced large, unleavened wafers known as "oublies".  Originally they were imprinted with biblical scenes or crosses but once the Catholic Church gave permission to artisans to begin making them, these new "oublies" had pictures of family crests, landscapes and other designs. As knights came back from the Crusades, they brought cinnamon, and ginger with them.  These spices livened up the "oublies".  In addition, butter, cream, leavening agents, and creme were added to the basic grain flour and water recipe making the final product lighter and more cake like.

Furthermore, the irons used to make wafters deepened so they product changed from wafers to a wafel as the Dutch called them.  By the 15th century, the Dutch switched over to rectangular shape from the traditional circular shape and began using a grid pattern.  No one is sure why the grid pattern started, but it is thought the grid allowed cooks to use less batter over a larger area.  These were the ancestor to the modern waffle.

In 1725, Wafel changed to Waffle when Englishman Robert Smith spelled it that way in his influential   "Court Cookery" which had a the first known Waffle recipe.  Various European countries developed their own version of the waffle.  Germany had the coffee waffle while the French made their waffles with Spanish wine, cloves, and lemon zest.  Most waffles eaten in Europe were snacks, eaten by hand.  It wasn't until the Dutch brought the waffle to the United States that they were doused with maple syrup.

Thomas Jefferson so loved waffles, he brought several waffle irons back from Europe with him but waffles didn't become a main stream meal until 1869 when Cornelius Swarthout patented the first stove top cast iron waffle iron with a handle and clasp so the iron could easily be flipped without loosing the waffle.  His invention, made it so people no longer had blistered hands they used to get when making waffles.  Furthermore, about 1890, a company produced the first commercial pancake and waffle mix called "Aunt Jemima" named after a minstrel show character. About 135 years ago Mrs Fisher, the first published African American cookbook author recommended lots of oil to keep waffles from sticking.

Soon after the beginning of the 20th century, both General Electric, and Westinghouse began working on  electric waffle irons with a heating coil that produced enough heat to cook a waffle but it was the Simplex Electric Company out of Massachusetts, who marketed the first viable electric waffle iron in 1906.   General Electric began producing their own version of the electric waffle iron in 1911 and it resembled the ones we use today.  In 1932, the Dorsas created and marketed the first waffle mix that only required milk to produce a thick waffle mix.

Over the next few decades, minor changes were made but it wasn't until plastics became common that the price of waffle irons dropped making them much more affordable but what really made waffles part of most people's diet was when the Dorsas created a machine in 1950 that produced thousands of waffles that were then frozen and marketed as Eggo waffles. The same ones marketed under "Leggo my Eggo." phrase.

Along the way, Belgian waffles came over at the beginning of the 20th century, adding a new dimension to the waffle story.  These were thicker than normal waffles and became quit popular.  I remember a waffle maker my parents had when I was young.  It was quite thin when compared to Belgian waffles.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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