Saturday, June 18, 2011

Once You've Had Four, It's Hard To Go Back To The Westinghouse WSTBW2 Waffle Maker!

The Good: Easy to use, Easy to clean, Stylish
The Bad: Footprint, Expensive, Only makes two waffles at a time.
The Basics: Because of the stifling initial pricetag, the Westinghouse WSTBW2 is a mediocre waffle maker given it may only bake two waffles at a time.

As I wait to review the Westinghouse WST3037 waffle maker I have been enjoying for the past few weeks, it seems like a good time to review the Westinghouse WSTBW2 waffle maker I tested and did not enjoy. As I considered waffle makers, I had a great opportunity to test a bunch of waffle makers. This was somewhat an exercise in raw consumer testing for me as I have been generally happy with my Cuisinart waffle maker. In fact, I use that one because I gave up using my Hamilton Beach waffle maker (reviewed here!). And there is a story to how I came to use the WST3037, but the WSTBW2 I used only under controlled circumstances at a cooking appliance store. I was drastically underwhelmed and I suspect those who have access to good waffle makers will easily see why.

The main problem for me with the WSTBW2 is that it only makes two waffles at a time. Yes, I have recommended waffle makers that only make one waffle (albeit larger ones) at a time, but when one has great experiences with a four-waffle waffle maker, the waffle maker that only makes two Belgian waffles at a time is a true disappointment.

The Westinghouse WSTBW2 waffle maker is hardly one of the most discrete appliances in my kitchen, as it is a little over six inches deep (front to back hinge), ten and a half inches wide and almost five inches tall. There is no dimension in which this is a convenient appliance to use or store. In fact, the biggest strike against this waffle maker is that it has a pretty significant footprint, though to be fair to it, this is just over half the size of the four waffle waffle maker I have enjoyed using. This waffle maker is white plastic with a black plastic base and handle to lift the top of the iron to open it. Like most waffle makers, the hinge is in the back. The browning control is on the front of the base and is controlled by a series of four push buttons and one knows just how the machine is operating via two LEDs on the front display. The two section Belgian waffle maker has six browning positions and a crisping function that essentially toasts the waffle after it is baked. There is a tiny green LED that lets the user know when the waffle maker is ready to use.

The Westinghouse WSTBW2 is fairly easy to use. When the waffle maker is plugged in, LED display lights up with a simple green dash, to let the user know the power is on. This is handy because right up front, there is a strong visual indicator for those of us who get distracted in the kitchen. When this waffle maker is plugged in, the LED display will be on! As an added safety feature, the waffle maker then has to be turned on by touching the leftmost "on/off" control. When the unit is turned on, the light above the power button is lit green. As well, the LED control panel changes from a dash to a number between one and six, which are the various baking settings.

When the waffle maker comes up to temperature, the unit beeps four times. At that time, the top cover may be lifted to put the batter in. The device is opened by lifting the black handle in front. It swings up easily.

The inside of the waffle maker is a black non-stick surface that still requires a little margarine to insure that waffles do not stick to it. The manual recommends against using non-stick cooking spray and the one I tested had been fairly well-seasoned as a display module, so we simply used margarine and that keeps the cooked waffles from sticking to the surface. After the surface is sprayed, dump a ladleful of batter in and close the top. When the top is closed, the waffle maker comes back up to temperature and actually bakes the waffle. There is no visual indicator from the LED that the unit is operating any differently, but the Westinghouse WSTBW2 seems to know when batter has been placed on it and it bakes the waffles accordingly!

The WSTBW2 actually works to make decent waffles of varying texture. Depending on what position the selector is in, the waffle will vary from barely baked (1) to crispy like it was left in a toaster a little too long (6 + "crisp" button). The factory default for preheating the unit is 3 and I have not had to use a setting other than 3 or 4 with the "crisp" button to get the waffles I have desired. I often make waffles en masse and freeze the ones I do not eat. When I reheat them, I use my toaster oven and they get only a little crispier in that, so three with the "crisp" engaged seems to be a good setting. I have experimented with the various settings and found they actually do prolong the cooking time and make waffles of varying crispiness. Herein lays the point where the WSTBW2 failed to sell me; because I like to stock up on waffles when making them, the WSTBW2 takes twice as long to stockpile waffles than the WST3037, which makes four waffles at the same time. Considering the electrical usage between the two models is virtually identical and the WSTBW2 can frequently be found only $15 less expensive than the other waffle maker, the one that makes more at a time seems to be the more environmentally and economically smart device.

The batter cooks at whatever setting it is on and when the WSTBW2 is ready, it beeps four times again and one opens the top and the waffles are done! At that point, simply open the front again and pop the waffles out with a fork. As the numbering implies, the WSTBW2 waffle maker makes two Belgian waffles at a time. The resulting waffles are four and half inches square with sixteen large nooks for waffle toppings, like fruit or quite a bit of syrup!

The Westinghouse WSTBW2 classic waffle maker gets hot on the iron, warm on the plastic top, but I've not found any of the plastic components to ever heat up too much. The waffle maker's top gets hot, but this might well be the better model for those who have children who might be inclined to touch the waffle maker while it is operating. Sure, the sides of the iron will still burn kids, but the top will not and that is a good thing.

Once you've made waffles in the classic waffle maker, clean up is simple. The plastic surfaces wipe off easily with a cloth and hot water. Cleaning the outside is very easy. It is glossy plastic on top and a base that is a dull plastic that is easy to clean. Wiping it down with a warm, wet cloth will clean this right off. The outside is ridiculously easy to clean, though the outer edge may have baked-on batter if it is overfilled. This easily flakes or washes off, though. Even the waffle maker's heating iron surface is ridiculously easy to clean because of the size of the iron components that make the waffle cells. This waffle maker has a thick non-stick surface, but is should still not be cleaned with anything abrasive. Because the manual recommends against submerging this device, one needs to use a cloth and once the inside is cool, there is no part that is difficult to wipe off.

This is easy to use and it creates rather satisfying waffles. As far as storage goes, this is a larger device and once the unit is cool, clean and dry, the cord wraps nicely around it. It makes it easy to store out of the way for those who lack the space, but the overall size of it is still a bit stifling to those who have very limited space.

This device has a limited one year warranty, but given that I tested this under "laboratory" kitchen conditions and did not enjoy it enough to buy, the need to exercise the warranty is not something I can fairly evaluate. Still, given my experiences with other Westinghouse waffle makers, I doubt that the WSTBW2 would break down easily.

For other kitchen appliances, check out my reviews of:
Frigidaire FRT18S6AW refrigerator
Black & Decker CTO7000 Toaster Oven
Chef's Choice Electric Kettle


For other household appliance reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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