Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just About The Best Waffle Maker, Westinghouse's 4-Section Belgian Waffle Maker Is Still Not Perfect!

The Good: Easy to use, Easy to clean, Fun, Stylish
The Bad: Footprint, Expensive, Long cooldown period
The Basics: Despite the stifling initial pricetag (especially considering one can buy waffles fairly cheap), the Westinghouse WST3037 is a fun, easy-to-use waffle maker.

When my wife moved in, it was a pretty chaotic time and we accidentally liberated her mother's Westinghouse 4 Section Belgian Waffle Maker (WST3037) and have been using it for the past few years.

This is not, by any means, the first waffle maker I have used or reviewed. Indeed, I have my own waffle maker, a Cuisinart waffle maker that I have had and used for years. I also had a Hamilton Beach waffle maker (reviewed here!) that I did not like so much and gave to my mother, who does not use it any more than I did! Until the moment we return it to my mother-in-law, I will continue to use this because it is easy to use, makes decent waffles and is easy to clean.

The Westinghouse WST3037 waffle maker is hardly one of the most discrete appliances in my kitchen, as it is a foot 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. This waffle maker is stainless steel 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 four 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 WST3037 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 this came to us fairly well-seasoned, 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 WST3037 seems to know when batter has been placed on it and it bakes the waffles accordingly!

The WST3037 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.

The batter cooks at whatever setting it is on and when the WST3037 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 name suggests, the waffle maker makes four 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! This is a good-sized waffle and that the four-section waffle maker makes so many at once and makes them uniformly large, crispy and delicious is a great sign!

The Westinghouse WST3037 classic waffle maker gets hot on the iron, warm on the stainless steel top, but I've not found any of the plastic components to ever heat up. The waffle maker's top gets very hot, indeed, and while this might seem like an obvious thing, the problematic aspect of the stainless steel top is that it stays hot for about a half hour (sometimes more) after it is done being used, which is problematic for cleaning up and storage.

Once you've made waffles in the classic waffle maker, clean up varies some. The only reason the exterior temperature of this device truly matters is because of the cleanup. It's a good idea to let this particular waffle maker cool down. Again, with up to half an hour before that happens, this device is more appropriate for lazy Sundays than busy weekdays.

Cleaning the outside is very easy. It's stainless steel and a plastic that is easy to clean. Wiping it down with a warm, wet cloth will clean this baby right off. The outside is ridiculously easy to clean, though the outer edge may have baked on batter if you fill it too much. 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 that has long since expired and there is no component on here that seems like it is in danger of kicking out. My final note would be that this is definitely a device intended for adult kitchens and the temperature the top reaches is a liability for kitchens with active young children or intrusive cats.

For other kitchen appliances, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Westinghouse WSTBW2 Waffle Maker
Chef's Choice 675 Electric Kettle
Frigidaire FRT18S6AW refrigerator


For other kitchen appliance reviews, please visit my index page on the subject!

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