For years I wanted to try making gluten-free waffles that my clients could enjoy, because most frozen waffles contain soy in some form, often soy flour. Since most of my clients avoid soy, I was very interested in making homemade gluten-free waffles. The challenge was that I didn’t want to buy or use most of the waffle irons on the market as they virtually all use a non-stick or Teflon coating that I wanted to avoid.
Through a client, I discovered a cast iron waffle iron!
If you’ve never used cast iron, it’s quite different than most other cooking surfaces you’ve used and takes some getting used to both in terms of seasoning, cooking with it and cleaning it.
The non-stick properties of cast iron works by “seasoning” the pan. To season cast iron you need to build up a thin layer of baked on oil. So to do so, you apply a small layer and bake it, the heat opens and closes the “pores” of the metal and bakes in a tiny layer of oil each time. This makes it non-stick.
This almost means you can’t wash cast iron with soap like you would all other pans – it will remove all of the oil, and subsequently it will rust.
Preparing and seasoning your Cast Iron Waffle
First wash off the manufacturer protective wax coating. Then brush on a high smoke point oil so it doesn’t burn when baking. There are many choices but I avoid any refined oxidized oil like canola, corn, soy, etc. While these have a high smoke point, they are not healthy oils and are often genetically modified. I tend to like to use melted refined coconut oil. Other choices might include ghee, duck fat, or lard though I like refined coconut oil because it is flavorless. It is not as high of a smoke point as ghee so I bake it on a little lower temperature. Bake it in the oven for 1 hour on 325 degrees. Let it cool completely. Technically it is now seasoned; although I like to season it more than once at the beginning, so I let it cool thoroughly and did it one more time 6 hours later. Once it has thoroughly cooled, it is ready to use.
Use any waffle recipe, from scratch or a mix. In this example, I used a pancake mix. Pancake and waffle batter differ slightly. When available use a waffle recipe. If you have a pancake mix at home that doesn’t describe how to make waffles, a general rule of thumb is that waffle batter is a bit thicker so I often have to spread it with the back of a spoon around the iron before closing it. Also a waffle recipe is often a bit sweeter, but since my clients and I try to keep our sugar intake low, I don’t usually add more sugar to my recipe. Bottom line, if you have a waffle recipe or mix, use that. If not, use a pancake recipe.