Are you baffled by the newfound craze for jaffles popping up on café menus across Australia? Don’t be! Thesesealed triangles or squares of toasted happiness were a staple snack of millions of Australian children from the 1970s on. They were also a quick, cheap and tasty meal for many a poor student after a heavy night of studying (or drinking).
What is a jaffle? Is it simply a toasted sandwich? Yes and no. A jaffle can only be a jaffle if its edges are sealed, the bread becoming a tasty packet around the ingredients.Traditional fillings included: cheese and tomato, tinned spaghetti, baked beans with cheese and— last but not least— leftover curry or Bolognese sauce. They were a delicious Sunday lunch or sometimes a quick dinner made by an overworked Mum.
The original jaffle iron was a cumbersome cast-iron sandwich mould (known as a pie-iron in the US) that was inserted into the coals of a campfire. It was not a piece of equipment that was used day-to-day, rather it was reserved for camping. Then in 1974, Breville introduced the first electric jaffle maker into home kitchens— forty years later more than six million people worldwide have a Breville jaffle maker.
Some jaffle makers have a ‘scissor action’, which cuts jaffles into triangles, while others only seal the edges. The latter creates more room for ingredients and is preferred by overfillers. Be wary, however, of ingredients which heat up too quickly. You don't want to burn your mouth, especially if you're feeding kids.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Across Australia jaffles are making a comeback in cafes and even upmarket restaurants. But some are putting a twist on it, making jaffles go upmarket by concocting new and exciting fillings:
- Smoked corn, chorizo and gruyere cheese
- Sourdough, jamón, foie gras and spiced fig jam.
- Brie de Meaux and shaved Australian black winter truffles
Clayton Thompson, who opened his first Jaffle Jaffle store in Geelong, Victoria, in January 2014, has just opened his third store. Jaffle Jaffle has embraced the multi-cultural jaffle, filling their breads with combinations inspired by cuisines from around the globe. Popular favourites include the ‘China Town’ jaffle filled with barbecued pork, pickled cucumber, spring onion, sweet soy and hoisin sauce; and Mexican Nights, overflowing with chilli beef (or bean), spinach, jalapeños and cheddar.
At Bad Frankie’s in Fitzroy, their Shroom jaffle is filled withmushrooms cooked down in garlic, red wine and thyme, toasted with spinach, feta and mozzarella on wholemeal.
One of their most popular inventions is a dessert jaffle called The Lamington: two slices of chocolate sponge cake filled with strawberry jam, toasted then adorned with coconut, cream and chocolate sauce. What’s not to love?