Author: Tosh Lubek Published: 6th April 2021
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Have you found that when you try and make your favorite breakfast treat when you open the waffle maker your waffles are falling apart or split?
These are the main reasons you can lead to waffles falling apart:
- Your waffle maker’s non-stick surface is no longer effective.
- The grid plates are not hot enough.
- You have not greased the plates.
- There is not enough fat in the batter.
- Insufficient cooking time before opening the waffle maker.
- The waffle maker was closed too soon.
- A batter that is too thin was used.
- The waffle maker was opened when the middle of the waffle was still raw.
- Too much batter was used.
- The iron needs cleaning.
When your waffles separate, with half stuck to the top of the iron and half stuck on the bottom, you can see there can be several causes. So, let’s look at the potential problems one by one and how you can avoid your waffles falling apart.
Waffles might split because the non-stick coating is ineffective
If you’re using a waffle maker that has a non-stick coating, it’s important to make sure the surface is still effective. If your batter sticks or doesn’t release easily from this type of iron, then there could be a few things going on.
But where the waffle iron has been used for some time, it could be that the coating may have become worn and damaged, and the waffle maker plates will start to stick.
An effective way of avoiding this happening in your own kitchen is to make sure you read and follow the instructions that came with the waffle maker. Also, make sure you only use non-stick safe utensils, like silicone or plastic. Never use metal ones, like a fork or flipper, when removing the waffles after cooking.
The culprit to a damaged non-stick surface may be harsh cleaning. Never clean the grid plates too vigorously by scrubbing hard on those coated surfaces. Don’t use a scouring pad/brush and avoid abrasive cleaners. When the non-stick surface has been worn or has started to come away, the waffle maker plates will be ineffective, and your waffles will stick and tend to split apart.
However, where you’re experiencing splitting when using a new waffle maker, then you need to look at eliminating other potential problems. One of these is heat, especially when using a non-stick appliance, which should be hot before adding food.
Waffles might split because if the waffle iron is not hot enough
These days, almost all new electric waffle makers include non-stick coatings. Whether you like it or not, the chances are that you’ll have to learn how to use a non-stick waffle maker.
The surface is effective when the temperature of your waffle maker has reached the correct level. So, you need to wait until the plates have achieved this optimum heat before adding the batter, otherwise, the waffles will stick and split when you open the lid of the waffle maker.
Here I not talking about the position of the temperature dial on your specific machine. The Min or Max setting has more to do with how brown and crispy you like your waffles. So, here is what I recommend. Set the heat dial so the waffle maker produces your preferred amount of browning and try the following to judge the correct temperature.
An old-school way of ensuring the grid plates are hot enough is to use the water sizzle test. If you’ve not come across this, i.e., you’re younger than me, then let the waffle maker heat up, and when you think it’s hot enough, wet the end of your fingers and flick the water onto the hot waffle grid plates.
If they’re hot enough, the droplets of water will perform a little sizzle dance on the hot surface as they turn into steam. So that’s how to use the sizzle test to know when to add the waffle batter: the plates need to be sizzling hot.
TIP: Make sure you keep the waffle maker lid down to cut the heating time.
Another way of making sure the waffle maker is hot enough is to give it a little extra time to heat up.
Have you noticed that the first waffle out of the iron isn’t as good as the rest? I think that’s because even when the waffle maker’s temperature indicator light says it’s ready, there’s still not quite enough heat in the iron. My solution is to leave it alone for another 5-10 minutes to make sure the level of heat is exactly right. That way, the waffle batter instantly forms a good skin that will let the waffle come away cleanly from the grid plate.
Waffles might split because if the grid plates have not greased
A debate I frequently hear is to grease or not to grease. I’m certainly in the grease camp, but only lightly. You’re not trying to fry the waffles, the purpose of greasing the plates is to make sure the waffles come away cleanly. The grease acts just as a release agent.
If you’re always asking yourself, “why does my waffle maker stick”, when you open the waffle iron lid it’s possible that you are not greasing or oiling your grids properly.
To grease the plates, use a silicone basting brush or a pastry brush to apply a thin coat of vegetable oil, butter, or coconut oil to the grids. If using butter, melt it first or use clarified butter (or ghee), which I prefer since it has a higher smoke point than ordinary butter. If using butter from the refrigerator and holding a little piece between your fingers, please be careful so as not to burn yourself on the hot plates. An alternative to brushing on the grease is to spray the oil, but don’t use the non-stick cooking sprays.
Whatever you use as the grease and whichever method you use to apply it, wipe off any excess so that you leave just enough to help release the waffles. Using too much oil risks making the waffles a bit greasy!
Many people report that you should use butter to grease the plates. They say, when using butter instead of oil, the waffles rarely stick to the plates. The same is true if butter is substituted for oil in the recipe. Of course, the other benefit of using butter is that the waffles turn out to be crispier and, I would say, tastier.
One final reminder when it comes to greasing the plates. Do not use non-stick cooking sprays, like PAM, on non-stick waffle plates. Using them will lead to the build-up of a tacky film that will cause further sticking.
The trouble is that cooking sprays contain soy lecithin, which, when heated, turns into a gummy mess on the plates. If you try using those kinds of spray, you’ll have to use increasing amounts each time you make waffles. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where repeated use will have caused a terrible baked-on layer of sticky gunk to build up that will make your waffles stick to the plates.
Waffles might split because if there is not enough fat in the batter
If the waffles don’t come out easily, sticking to the grid and then splitting as you open the waffle maker, it could be because the batter has no fat.
Although fats have had a bad press in the past, especially butter, they are not all bad and they are a necessary ingredient in your waffle batter recipe. The inclusion does help to release the waffle from the waffle grid plates.
That’s why most waffle batters include fat in some form. Usually, the fat comes from oil or butter, and egg yolks. One of the best oils to use is Canola oil. It has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. It’s also a healthier oil.
If you don’t want to use oil or butter you can try coconut oil, both in the mix and to grease the grid plates. Again, it’s thought of as a healthy oil and is easily available on Amazon in jars or tubs. If kept in the refrigerator it’s a hard white solid but soft at room temperature.
Should sticking and splitting remain a problem, try adding a few more tablespoons of fat to the batter.
Waffles might split because if you try peeking too soon
If you find that your waffles split it could be because you’re too eager to check on their progress. So, resist the urge to peek and don’t open the waffle maker too soon.
If you really do need to check the progress, wait for at least two minutes before opening the lid of the waffle maker. Lifting the lid any earlier risks having the tops and bottoms becoming cooked and a little crisp but leaving the batter in the middle of the waffle still liquid and raw. So, if there’s even a hint of the top of the waffle adhering to the top grid, the liquid middle will make it easy for the waffle to split apart as you open the waffle iron.
Another reason not to open the waffle maker is that you’ll be letting all that lovely steam escape. Steam contains a lot more heat energy than the same amount of water at the same temperature. The steam is necessary to ensure the batter cooks properly on top and bottom.
Waffles might split if you close the iron too soon
Your waffles falling apart could be averted if you wait for a little before closing the waffle iron. The idea is that you need to let the top of the batter harden a little before lowering the upper grid on top of the waffle.
I’ve not tried this yet myself, mainly because I’ve not needed to, but I did see this recommended on a popular and respected food forum and the idea seems credible.
The writer suggested that after pouring the batter into the waffle grids you should wait for the batter to slightly harden on top before closing the waffle iron. By “harden” I assume he meant that the batter forms a kind of skin on top, and this helps prevent the waffle splitting.
Waffles might split because the batter is too thin
In my experience, waffle batter should always be thicker than pancake batter. When it’s too thin and more like a pancake batter then that’s when I’ve experienced more waffle sticking and splitting issues.
If your batter has too much liquid in relation to dry ingredients, i.e., too much milk, oil, and eggs or not enough flour and sugar, then this can also lead them to split apart when cooking. This is because of two possible reasons. First, the excess liquid will lead to a longer than usual cooking time, so the inside of the waffle is likely to still be soggy and lack cohesion when you lift the lid of the waffle maker. Second, there won’t be enough gluten to hold everything together, as it does in bread.
Thicker, and even thick yeasty batters, seem to be the rule if you want to keep your waffles in one piece. If you’ve ever seen Brussels waffles being made by street vendors in the Belgian capital, you’ll know how thick the batter can be. It’s almost like bread dough and I’ve never seen it stick. I’m not suggesting you make your batter that thick for regular American waffles, but it should be thicker than pancake batter.
If you use a pre-made commercial mix for both pancakes and waffles, try reducing the quantity of water or milk when making waffles. I’ve been told you should cut the amount of liquid in the batter by about a quarter. When I’ve tried this tip, it certainly seems to make a difference.
When I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to make a waffle batter from scratch, I use a commercially available waffle mix from a wholesale grocery store. The instructions suggest a ratio of 1kg of waffle mix to 1-liter of water, plus 150ml of oil. In my opinion, that’s too much liquid for waffles. I’ve reduced the amount of water so that the batter is a good bit thicker and not only are the waffles good, but I’ve also never had them split.
Waffles might split because if not fully cooked
Cooking time is important if you want to prevent your waffles from falling apart. If not cooked for long enough, the waffles will be too soft and won’t hold together. The exact cooking time will vary depending on the recipe you use. For example, if the recipe calls for somewhat more liquid in relation to the dry ingredients, you’ll need to cook the waffles for longer.
As a rough guide, you should cook the waffles until they are golden brown and crispy on both sides, but don’t peak too soon.
The exact cooking time will vary depending on the recipe, but it is usually between three to seven minutes for a standard-sized Belgian-style iron with four sections. Another thing that can guide you is to wait until steam stops escaping from between the waffle maker’s grid plates. No more steam should indicate the waffle’s done and ready to be taken out of the waffle maker, without sticking.
Waffles might split apart if you use too much batter
When you pour too much batter into the iron, this may also prevent the waffles from staying together in one piece, and you’ll end up with a lot of small pieces that stick to your iron’s grid plate instead – it can be quite frustrating!
Pour just enough batter so each section of the grid plate has a little space around the edges, or the sections are almost full. This will ensure the batter rises and expands into the top grid without oozing out between the plates. If you have a batter that oozes out the sides, it can stick and lead to splitting apart of the waffle when you open the iron.
If you’ve not used the waffle maker before or if the recipe is a new one, start with slightly less batter than normal, and with the next batch, you can add a little more if necessary. That way you’ll figure out the ideal amount of batter to use without it oozing out and sticking.
Waffles might split if the iron needs cleaning
Each time you’ve finished making a batch of waffles you should clean your waffle maker. This can be as simple as a quick wipe with a draw paper towel and maybe the use of a soft brush to “flick” any little bits of remaining batter debris. However, over time the plates can become a little “sticky”, especially if at some point you were tempted to use a non-stick cooking spray like PAM.
You can occasionally give the plates a more thorough clean, like a steam clean. It’s not complicated and doesn’t rate too high in terms of effort.
To steam clean your waffle maker use a damp (not dripping wet) dish towel and lay it over the waffle iron plates, then close the machine. Now let the waffle maker warm up to the point where it begins to turn the water in the dish towel into steam. Let the steam do its work of loosening the tacky film on the plates.
When the steam stops coming out from between the plates remove the dish towel and use a dry paper towel to wipe away the softened residue and debris. To avoid burning yourself use a chopstick to push the paper towel through the grid plate grooves. Do not do anything that could lead to you burning yourself.
If your waffle maker requires a more thorough clean you can try the baking soda deep clean method.
As you can see, your waffles falling apart can be caused by several things, so you may need to use more than just one remedy. However, always remember to check the non-stick surface of your iron, if it’s seen better days, you may be better off getting a new waffle maker.
Remember to wait until the iron is hot enough before greasing the plates and pouring in a thick batter that contains enough egg yolks and oil. Don’t be tempted to open the waffle maker too soon. The instructions that came with your waffle maker should include a cooking time guide, so leave the lid shut for at least that length of time.
Finally, don’t add too much batter and ensure your waffle iron is clean and free of any sticky residue.
Tosh learned how to cook while watching his Polish Mom at home. He also worked in a family-owned restaurant while a student and learned much from the chefs. Cooking has always interested him, especially the hearty Polish recipes he learned from his mother. He has helped create and appeared on cookery shows on radio stations in Scotland.
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