Perfect Waffles Without a Nonstick Pan

Wanting to avoid using nonstick surfaces, LPJ13 recently got a waffle iron with cooking surfaces made from cast aluminum. But even after seasoning for three or four cooking cycles with safflower and grapeseed oils, the waffles were a stuck-on, burnt mess. How do you clean up after a disaster like this without losing the seasoning—and how do you make successful waffles on a seasoned surface?

For cleaning, tim irvine uses toothpicks or bamboo skewers; plastic utensils are good, too, Chemicalkinetics says. Chowhound kaleokahu finds a small, brass-bristled, toothbrushlike brush to be useful for such situations; just scrub the burnt stuff off and blow all the residue away. If the waffle bits are really stuck, the plates might need to be soaked for five minutes in very hot water before scrubbing, Chemicalkinetics says.

As for making great waffles without Teflon, the same rules apply for cast aluminum as for cast iron, Chemicalkinetics says: Don't use nonstick spray, but use plenty of oil for cooking, more than you would with a nonstick surface. Chowhound tim irvine uses a brush to get the oil into all the nooks and crannies before cooking. Also, make sure your recipe contains plenty of fat; atheorist uses a recipe that has a stick of butter for every 2 cups of flour, 2 1/2 cups of liquid, and 2 eggs. Three-quarters of that much fat can work; half as much fat and you're asking for trouble, atheorist says.

More importantly, you can't check for doneness by looking at the waffles; during normal cooking, the waffle batter will be stuck like glue, atheorist says. Instead, listen for sizzling and look for steam coming out of the waffle iron; if this is happening, the waffles aren't done, atheorist says. Just wait and have faith; once they stop steaming and sizzling they'll come unstuck, atheorist says, and should be the perfect golden brown.

It's a matter of trial and error to get the proper time and temperature, Chemicalkinetics says, but once you get these dialed in, it's easy. Don't be intimidated by the process; to keep expectations reasonable, tim irvine always makes the first waffle for the dog.

Discuss: Help! Stuck waffles :(

Photo of CHOW's Gingerbread Waffles with Vanilla Bean–Orange Butter by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com