Our travels to Belgium over the years has contributed heavily to our love of the iconic dishes, drinks and produce from the central European country. Double-cooked frites with a liberal crowning of mayo. Delicate, rich and intense chocolate truffles. Comforting stodge in the form of stoemp and unctuous stews like carbonnade flammande/vlaamse stoofvlees. But any trip to Belgium is not complete for us without scoffing down warm, sweet, icing sugar-adorned waffles – or gaufres as they’re known – and gloriously adorned with all sorts of toppings, from melted Biscoff speculoos spread to fresh fruit and cream.
We’ve often returned home from Brussels, shop-bought waffle mix in tow, but we’ve struggled to recreate that iconic flavour in our own kitchen, leaving a void needing filling and a craving unsatisfied! We had contemplated investing in a waffle iron, but often put off for several reasons, but then the Smart Waffle™ Pro from Sage Appliances came into our lives. Those clever clogs at Sage put a challenge to us to see if we could recreate the magic of our beloved Belgian-style gaufres right in our own kitchen.
To backtrack, our original dilemma was: ‘is a waffle iron just another gadget that’s going to gather dust in the cupboard?’. The other worry was that a waffle iron would be poor quality; a bit of a gimmicky imitation giving an amateur version of something really quite specific and technical. Often you’ll see them as novelty products at suspiciously low prices, and without fail you’ll find those are the ones that the batter gets welded to and that break after three uses.
You’ll see already where this was going – both of those worries were totally unfounded when this arrived. Worried about how amateur and gimmicky a waffle iron would look – can you believe us? This mighty machine is the sort you’d be proud to display pristinely on your kitchen countertop – always to a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’, it’s a piece of kit everyone who sees asks about and is always mega impressed. We don’t really deal in cheffy tools in our happy little home cook’s kitchen, but this is us to an absolute tee.
The Smart Waffle™ Pro is all about delivering pinpointed precision with every function, from the precise even colouring of the waffle to varying heat settings and adjustable timings. It also wants to know what style of waffle you’re looking to make so it can ensure it comes out perfectly. From classic buttermilk to chocolate, they’ve even made it that much easier for us as there’s a dedicate ‘Belgian’ setting. *bows to waffle gods*
The Smart Waffle Pro is incredibly simple to set up, and making your waffle batter is similarly a cinch. While there are several batter mixes available in supermarkets, nothing can beat the homemade version, whipped up freshly from scratch. You’ve got a cup measure included which handily indicates how much batter to make per amount of mouths to feed.
An instruction manual and recipe booklet is also of course included, with lots of great options. We found across the board that the sweet recipes didn’t have enough sugar at all – which for Belgian-style waffles is essential. We often simply just doubled the suggest sugar – but each to their own! Start with their recipe suggestions to get to grips with ratios and settings and then set your inspirations loose and start experimenting with flavours!
As it goes, Sage Appliances actually has another waffle iron, called the No-Mess Waffle®. This one’s smaller and rounder, ideal for a simple and classic circular (four-quadrant) waffle recipe, especially for breakfast – the stuff of Instagram dreams, and can we suggest our friends @SymmetryBreakfast for all manner of breakfast waffle topping inspiration.
Worth mentioning – while it’s tempting to rip it out of the box and use tout de suite, it’s recommend to give it clean first using a damn sponge and leaving to air dry. Just like frying a pancake on Shrove Tuesday, you really should treat that first one as a test! Our first attempt was a tad overcooked for our liking and still had that “new appliance fragrance”, similar to a frying pan, so we tried again with number two, which was spot on. We’ve now used it pretty much on a weekly basis for about six months. Sorry, not sorry. We will never apologise for our gaufres addiction and now we can make Belgian-style waffles at home with what is fast becoming our favourite new kitchen gadget!
In terms of what you can do with the Smart Waffle™ Pro, we’ve made lots of different options – which you can see some of above. One we really want to tell you about, and show you how to make with your machine, is our Homemade Potato Waffles