A waffle is a batter or dough based cake cooked in a waffle iron patterned to give a distinctive and characteristic shape. There are many variations based on the type and shape of the iron and the recipe used.
Other waffle-shaped foods exist, and are sometimes referred to as waffles because of their shape. Most are actually potato products.
Wafer and waffle share common etymological roots. Wafre ("wafer") occurs in Middle English by 1377, adopted from Middle Low German wâfel, with the l changed to r. Modern Dutch wafel, French gaufre, and German Waffel, all meaning "waffle", share the same origin. The Dutch form, wafel, was adopted into modern American English as waffle in the 18th century.
The modern waffle has its origins in the wafers—very light thin crisp cakes baked between wafer irons—of the Middle Ages. Wafer irons consisted of two metal plates connected by a hinge, with each plate connected to an arm with a wooden handle. The iron was placed over a fire and flipped to cook both sides of the wafer. The irons were used to produce a variety of different flat, unleavened cakes, usually from a mixture of barley and oats, not the white flour used today.
In 14th-century England, wafers were sold by street vendors called waferers. The modern waffle is a leavened form of wafer.
In medieval Europe, vendors were permitted to sell their waffles outside of churches on saints' days and during other special religious celebrations. Competition at the churches eventually became very heated, and at times violent, so that King Charles IX of France imposed a regulation on waffle sales, requiring vendors to maintain a distance of at least deux toises (4 m/12 ft) from one another.
Waffles can be eaten plain (especially the thinner kinds) or sprinkled with powdered sugar. Depending on the region they may be eaten with various toppings such as syrup (maple syrup, flavored syrup), butter, jam, fruits (e.g. bananas, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, strawberries), chocolate chips or dulce de leche. Ice cream cones are also a type of waffles or wafers.
A waffle is a cooked food made from a batter that consists of flour, water, baking powder, oil, and eggs. It has a gridlike appearance because it is cooked in between two hot metal plates in an electric kitchen appliance called a waffle iron. Waffles are cooked until they become golden-brown in color, with a crispy outer texture and a soft interior. Waffles are served as a breakfast or as a dessert, and they are usually served with sweet sauces or toppings.
In North America, waffles are often eaten for breakfast on weekends or holidays. Freshly-baked waffles are topped with maple syrup and served with breakfast sausages, eggs, orange juice, and hot coffee.
In Belgium, France, and the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, waffles are often served as a dessert, after dinner is finished. Freshly-baked waffles are topped with sweet toppings such as chocolate syrup, bananas, strawberries, or whipped cream.
Waffle is also a slang term meaning "to keep changing one's mind.". For example, if a reporter is asking a politician a question, and the politician does not give a clear answer, the reporter might say that the politician was "waffling." It can also mean to keep repeating the same information in a different way or make no useful points.