A staple of family bushwalks when I was growing up was the jaffle at lunchtime. These would be cooked easily on a fire using a jaffle iron. When I joined Sydney University Bushwalkers (SUBW), I found jaffles were popular there too. Talk at club meetings (in those days every Wednesday on the Botany Lawn) would be sharing jaffle recipes, the merits of single versus double jaffle irons etc. Legend was that that someone in the club had once cooked an “icecream jaffle” – the ultimate! Also – the perfect jaffle should be cooked on a fire without any need to open the iron part way through the cooking process. An experienced bush jaffle maker should be able to tell when the jaffle was cooked without inspection, and take the iron off the fire at exactly the right time without the jaffle burning.
Well, over the years jaffle irons became hard to find. Old irons were passed down through families. Later made, square shaped irons, would not do. They had the wrong shape and were often too heavy to take on walks. Some walkers (those without access to the old round shaped traditional iron) argued that square bread should be cooked in a square iron. Traditionalists argued that the round iron gave a perfect seal, even though a bit of bread was lost as the corners need to be trimmed off. Walkers would looked through antique shops or village markets seeking out old round irons. Sometimes they would be successful and score a great jaffle iron – and also score some respectability in the bushwalking club.
Many jaffle recipes have been developed. The most common involve cheese and tomato – a great combination as the cheese melts through the tomato during the cooking process. Some add creamed corn – which works well in jaffles (and not well in most other things). For more exotic jaffles you can add smoked salmon, humous, herbs etc. One friend enjoys chocolate and banana jaffles.
For longer walks, a jaffle iron is heavy to carry. One way around this – is for only one iron to be carried and shared by the party. Wholemeal or mixed grain bread is good for jaffle making. I once was present when a friend cooked a jaffle and burnt it so badly she had to throw it away. She had to make another. Unfortunately, she badly burnt that one too. Her third one was no better – it too had to be thrown away. She blamed the bread – in this case – raisin bread. Others in the party suggested that she should have actually watched the jaffles as they cooked, rather than indulge in talking….
With long use, jaffle irons can wear out. The hinge can break. A sad end (it brought tears to a friend of mine when it happened to his long cherished iron on a trip).
Now with eBay, finding old (and round) jaffle irons is much easier. “Jaffle” brand ones are probably the best. They are perhaps the lightest of the good ones and usually seal well – as long as the iron is not warped. One friend has built up a reasonable collection of irons, most of them obtained on eBay.