Almanac Food: KD’s Kitchen – The Jaffle

Typical jaffles. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

The Jaffle

 

Jaffle! The mere mention of the word makes me want one. Covet one, in fact!

 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Why is it that almost all sandwiches taste better toasted? (The special exceptions are such wonders as white bread crayfish sandwiches.) Whatever the answer, most do.

 

But when one is talking toasted, the jaffle is on an even higher plane, I’d argue.

 

What the difference between a jaffle and a toasted sanger? The intensity of toasty-ness, is one thing. The pocketed, shaped and hot nature of the ingredients within the toasted bread are three others.

 

What I fondly remember from my childhood is the long-handled jaffle iron with the round “head”. You’d butter the outside of the filled bread to be put within the round area, to enable the golden toasted look and taste, then cut around it, roughly, to fit the shape of the jaffle iron and clamp it in. The clamped bit (of course) could then be placed on a fire, such as a campfire or open fire – or onto the hot coals of a pit dug into the ground. About half way through the process you’d turn the iron to make sure both sides of the jaffle were equally well done.

 

Classic round-headed jaffle iron, c. 1950. (Source: Australian food industry timeline website.)

 

It seems that these days, judging by the internet, the long-handled square-headed jaffle iron is more readily available than the round one. I’m not sure why. Aesthetically, I prefer the round variety, maybe in part because it’s got nostalgic connotations for me and is more novel because it produces something shaped differently to a typical sandwich.

 

The distinctive round jaffle. (Source: Wikipedia.)

 

Most likely because of its general ease of use, the electric jaffle maker is also popular now. That’s the one I use at present. Perhaps it doesn’t add the smoky, charcoly taste to the end product like the long-handled jaffle iron, but it still does the job very well.

 

Electric jaffle maker. (Source: Wikipedia.)

 

For me, a classic jaffle is one filled with savoury mince or tasty cheese. Ham, or ham and cheese are also wonderful, as are baked beans and many things that one could also use in a normal sandwich, though I’d avoid leafy salad-type fillings such as lettuce as these wilt and become unappetizing in the heat of the jaffle maker. Also, most breads are suitable to be turned into jaffles, though I wouldn’t use heavy, dense breads like artisan sourdough types as a general rule – lighter types of bread tend to toast better. Remember to butter the outside of the bread before placing it inside the jaffle apparatus.

 

Finally, it’s interesting to note, according to the Australian Food History Timeline website, that the Jaffle brand jaffle iron is a patented Australian invention (of a Dr Earnest Smithers) dating to 1949, even if other countries were producing products along similar lines in roughly the same era – though the basic concept of an “iron” to cook food within dates back to the wafer irons of the Middle Ages.

 

Culinarily yours,
KD

 

More from Kevin Densley HERE

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His work has appeared in print in Australia, the UK and the USA, as well as on many online venues. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for educational films made for tertiary students.

Comments

  1. roger lowrey says

    Great read Kevin.

    Haven’t had one for ages but my abiding memory is to be wary about burning the roof of your mouth.

    BTW the reference to the hitherto modestly known “Australian Food History Timeline” website earns big brownie research points.

    RDL

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for the comments, RDL.

    Yes, protection of the roof of the mouth is important. Usually, I’ll open the jaffle a little after toasting (and before eating) to let out some steam, so that the aforesaid mouth isn’t burned!

    And finally, never let it be said that I don’t do my research – and acknowledge sources! (Ha!)

  3. Shane Reid says

    Thanks for this Kevin. Great to find another jaffle fan. One of my favourite jaffles was to simply crack an egg into the sandwich maker, load it up with salt and pepper and wait three minutes, The runny yolk half way through was the best part. The problem is most modern designs have the diagonal cut across the middle meaning the egg doesn’t “sit” and is squeezed out the sides. I’m all for progress and technology but the self cutting jaffle design doesn’t work for eggs! My kingdom for the jaffle maker of my childhood!

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Shane.

    Thanks for your jaffle expertise. And of course you’re so right about how the particular design of the jaffle iron affects the kind of jaffle you can make – I really like the sound of your egg jaffle.

  5. Nicole Kelly says

    Thanks, Kevin! A spaghetti jaffle coming up for lunch, complete with the required hot-jaffle-juggle as I eat!

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Nicole! The spaghetti jaffle – another classic variety.

    And yes, it’s important not to forget the “hot-jaffle-juggle”!

  7. Preferred method for the toastier is in an old fashioned griller section of a stove. They were once part of the conventional freestanding oven set up – think chef, Westinghouse etc – but have largely disappeared from modern kitchen designs as the cooking appliance became integrated into the cabinetry ( and became a set of optional parts)
    I’m also not a fan of any cooking tool that has a non stick surface, so I still stick to my open griller, turning from one side to the other, with lots of butter on the outside (and the inside too). Old fashioned ham and cheese, maybe tomato and onion with white sunicrust bread is my toastie fave.

  8. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks for your input, Kate. I certainly agree with you concerning the butter issue – and of course it’s “each to their own” when it comes to the preferred toasting method. Sometimes, though, I’m in the mood for a sealed toasted sanger from the jaffle; at others, I want the more conventional toasted sandwich which is not sealed at the sides – it partly depends, too, on the kind of fillings one is using.

    And the disappearance of the old-fashioned griller section of a stove … interesting indeed.

  9. Spaghetti jaffle? An abomination. Baked bean jaffle is the go. (Bloody yanks. I’ll throw this iMac out the window if it changes it to waffle one more time).
    Jaffles were the start of a life long addiction to toasties for lunch.
    Some people have a cricket bat under the bed for intruders. I suspect mum took the long handle to the jaffle iron.

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Peter.

    That’s one of the main things about the jaffle, isn’t it? Its capacity to be filled and sealed with the filling of one’s personal choice, without a kind of lava flow out the sides of ingredients – as can happen with the conventional toasted sandwich.

    And yes – regarding the consequences of wielding the long-handled jaffle iron, the words “blunt instrument trauma” spring readily to mind!

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