Cast iron waffle makers from Norway

Cast iron waffle pan is not for everybody, but those who use them tend to have a passionate relationship to their pans. Cast iron waffle makers need to be maintained properly, but if you put some extra time and effort in taking care of your pan, it will serve you faithfully for decades. A cast iron waffle maker tolerates higher temperatures than teflon waffle pan, and waffles become nice and crispy.

Different kinds of waffles are an important tradition in Norway, from heart shaped, thick waffles which remind Belgian waffles, to cone shaped krumkake and ever so thin, delicately textured goro. There are special pans for each waffle type, and two Norwegian companies, Jøtul and Mustad, have long history of making quality waffle irons. None of these companies produce cast iron waffle pans any more as most people will rather have electric waffle makers. However, it is possible to find old cast iron pans at flea markets. Whenever I find cast iron waffle makers, I list them available for purchase in the vintage section of my Etsy shop.

This Jøtul krumkake iron below is possibly from the 1960’s and it has bakelite handles. The pan is solid, sturdy and heavy — almost 2,4 kg even though it is quite small. The frying areas are about 14 cm in diameter. The pan has a beautiful, floral pattern with a heart in the middle and it makes fantastic krumkake waffles. The pattern is known as Østerdalsmønster (Østerdal pattern), which refers to a geografical area in South-East Norway.

Jøtul is a well known Norwegian producer of ovens and other cast iron products, with its headquarters placed in Fredrikstad in South-East Norway (you will find more information on the company here.)

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Krumkake is a special Norwegian waffle which is rolled into cone form while hot. In an earlier blog post I describe how I made krumkake using a cast aluminium pan. Aluminium pans are not so usual to find, but they are just fine to use.

Cast iron pans found at flea markets usually suffer from lack of maintenance. They need to be thoroughly cleaned at first and then used, cleaned, and oiled a couple of times in order to restore their former glory. There are different meanings on how to clean cast iron pans which have not been properly cared for. Some people prefer to use extreme heat to burn and remove all dirt deep in the pores of the pan, and rub the pan with unsalted animal fat. I tend to be more conservative and settle for manual cleaning, moderate heating, and oiling, especially in the case of the pans I am going to sell. Buyers will decide how they want to maintain their pans and whether they prefer the dramatic measures or not.

This is another typical Norwegian waffle iron by Jøtul. The sturdy pan with bakelite handles makes cute, heart shaped waffles which are thicker than krumkake waffles.

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The waffle iron below is an older version of the heart shape waffle maker. The handles are not covered with bakelite, which makes this pan somewhat harder to use. The pan looks and feels old, and when I found it at a flea market, there was rust, dirt and possibly soot as well, suggesting that the pan has been used on a firewood heated stove. On the other hand, it is possible to put the whole pan into an oven to clean it by burning the dirt from the pores of the iron. This is a dramatic method of cleaning which I have only heard of, not experienced myself.

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Goro waffles are thin but unlike krumkake, they are served flat. Goro irons are textured and they leave delicate pattern to the waffles. Please see my earlier blog post.

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Another important waffle pan producer is Mustad, a company which started making nails, horseshoes and other metal objects in 1832 in a small town called Gjøvik. Nowadays Mustad produces world famous fish hooks. You can read more about the company history here. The Mustad krumkake iron below has handles covered with pieces of thick leather and the absolutely most beautiful waffle pattern ever made. This asymmetric floral pattern has a hint of art nouveau style.

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Mustad goro irons have a floral pattern which differs from the Jøtul pattern.

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At times I come across vintage cast iron waffle makers at flea markets, and since I already possess a couple of them, I offer extra pans for sale in my Etsy shop. You will find available cast iron pans in my shop’s vintage section.

Now that you have seen how these pans look like after I have cleaned, heated and oiled them, here is an example of the condition they are in — in the worst case! — when I buy them. None of the waffle irons above were this bad when I bought them, so these two pose me a new challenge.

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The krumkake iron with a base is a rare find in Norway. During my ten years in Norway I have never seen such a krumkake iron before. The pan may be from the 1920’s, and the base was possibly made to be used on a firewood stove. It may also be made for gas stoves which are very unusual in Norway.

In the 19th century and the early 20th century notable amounts of people from Scandinavia immigrated into the United States, especially in districts where the climate and nature were not very different from their home countries. The following generations of these immigrants fostered their food traditions and provided a market for special Scandinavian kitchenware. Unlike in Norway, krumkake irons produced in the US typically come with a base which is necessary as many households have gas stoves. Also the decorations on the frying plates in the US differ from decorations in Norway. The gorgeous floral patterns are typically Norwegian, and there are two main types, the Østerdal heart pattern and the asymmetrical art nouveau inspired pattern. Some pans have two similar sides, like the cleaned and oiled pans above. Some have two different sides, like the pan with the base.

The other iron in the picture above is a Mustad number 7. After lots of rubbing with a steel sponge, heating and oiling, soaking in boiling water for two hours, brushing with a steel brush, and heating and oiling again, the pan looks like this:

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The pan with the base ring is the oldest krumkake iron I have even seen. It may well be from the 1920’s. There is no manufacturer’s name visible. The photo below shows how the iron looked like after I had rubbed it with steel sponge and brushed with steel brush, but before heating and oiling. The pan turned out fantastic  when I got rid of all the rust and most of the dirt. This antique beauty makes it possible to enjoy not only one, but two different, typically Norwegian floral krumkake ornaments.

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I oiled the ring with sewing machine oil. Even though I was able to remove only some of the rust, the ring looks much better. The pan itself looks old and fabulous.

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Back in the 1970’s, I wonder if it was possible to find a househould in Norway without a Jøtul krumkake maker like the one below. With the usual heart shape Østerdal pattern and bakelite handles, these pans are still fully functional. The pans are about 40 cm long and weigh almost 2,5 kg.

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I have heard from elderly Norwegians that rich mansion owners used to have krumkake patterns of their own. Less wealthy families had their krumcakes made by travelling krumkake makers, who carried their own irons. It is possible that local patterns stem from the tradition of travelling krumkake makers. I have not been able to verify this information in written sources.

While cast iron is the most usual material in waffle makers, aluminium has also been used. This Høyang krumkake maker is just as good to bake krumkake as any cast iron pan, but easier to handle as it weighs under 900 g. It is also somewhat easier to maintain and keep clean. This krumkake maker is a flea market find and has not been maintained properly. I gave it a good rubbing with steel sponge, but some dirt is still left. When used and cleaned regularly, it will become better. Unfortunately the uncovered handles will be warm during baking and require some extra carefulness.

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The krumkake irons below have bakelite handles. The upper iron is a newer version of the Mustad model number 7, but the other iron is a more unusual Dravn number 13. This pan is made by Drammens Jernstøberi & Mek. Værksted, a company which produced various iron and steel products from ovens to steam ships and road maintenance machinery. The company was active from 1846 until 1986. More information on the company can be found here (in Norwegian).

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The floral pattern of the Dravn differs from the patterns used by Jøtul, Høyang and Mustad.

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Please visit the vintage section of my Etsy shop to see the waffle makers which are available for purchase at the moment.

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