By Harold McGee
Waffles and wafers have two things in common: the root word for their names, and the unique method by which they’re cooked. Their flour-water mixture is spread in a thin layer and pressed between two heated and embossed metal plates, which spread them even thinner, conduct heat into them rapidly, and imprint them with an attractive and often useful pattern. The usual square indentations increase the area of crisp, browned surface and collect the butter, syrup, and other enrichments that are often added on top. The French version, the gaufre, goes back to medieval times, when street vendors would make them to order and serve them hot on religious feast days.