Making Hong Kong egg waffles at home is harder than you think
What began as a way for hawkers in Hong Kong’s 1950s to use excess broken eggs, these portable waffle treats have now become a childhood favorite for Hong Kong locals and visitors alike, winning even one registration in the Michelin guide.
Today, these have become an elaborate dessert, topped with everything from fruit cream, wafers, ice cream and even fried chicken and maple syrup!
And it’s not just the toppings that change – the dough itself undergoes its own variations: from something as classic as chocolate chips to more adventurous cheese and pork bristle. I even saw it in the frozen section of the supermarket!
So what makes them so addicting, and more importantly, can we do it at home?
Here is my deep dive into the egg waffle at home.
Egg waffles are almost the reverse shape of European waffles. Instead of indents to encourage syrup pooling, the egg waffle is more egg-shaped, with small puff shapes to promote a crispy texture on the outside and chewy on the inside. The electric version of these waffle irons, however, costs around $ 150, and well, I don’t open a store selling them.
So I opted for the stovetop version of the iron. Because how much can you go wrong with $ 30, right?
Yeah, more on that later.
At its core, the egg waffle batter is very similar to a European waffle batter, with the addition of a few special ingredients: custard powder (to add to its luscious egg), tapioca flour (which helps a crispy outside and a soft chewy inside) and evaporated milk (makes the dough more creamy, but also because fresh milk was a luxury).
Store-bought egg waffles are often served in a paper bag or cup, and as they cool, the outside of the waffles becomes slightly crisp, while maintaining a soft and chewy interior.
There was still a slight waxy sheen on the golden brown exterior, and the eggy flavor became more pronounced as the waffle cooled.
Originally, it seemed quite simple – prepare the dough and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions (over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes per side). Turns out there is a lot more to do!
Baking the dough this way turned out an uneven waffle that was dense and dry on the inside. The outside stuck together, and when I gave it a light spray of oil (as the pan maker suggested) the waffle pockmarked with little bubbles where the oil sizzled.
So it was back to the drawing board – I had enough dough for a few strokes, and I was determined to get as close as possible.
Baking waffles 4 ways
To combat the uneven color, a friend suggested that I heat the pan in the oven rather than on the stovetop. So I wrapped the handles in aluminum foil and heated it to 200 ° C for 30 minutes, before pouring the dough in and putting it back in the oven to finish cooking.
This provided the most even cooking of the bunch, but unfortunately this applied to the interior as well. Everything was cooked in the same bake which meant I didn’t have the crispy exterior and soft bite that is so essential to classic egg waffle.
High preheating on the stove
Another idea that I had to emulate the commercial electric waffle iron was to heat the pan on the stove over high heat and then lower the heat to finish cooking the waffle. It got me closer to the juxtaposition of textures I was looking for, but the outside was too crisp by the time the waffles were released – the steam created during the baking process created suction in the little egg-shaped pockets and the waffle outside had to be dry enough before the nonstick coating could do its job.
Also, heating the pan on the stovetop meant that one side was piping hot, while the other side was just too cold, resulting in a dough that wasn’t even a similar bake on both sides.
Medium heat on the stove (no preheating)
Maybe the preheating was the problem, so this time I went for medium heat. I had a similar issue with one side being hotter than the other, but at least this time it didn’t burn out. It had a nice elastic waffle quality, but also suffered the same curse of not breaking free until the inside was overcooked. It had a rather pasty texture, without chewing.
Low fire on the stove (no preheating)
I had just enough leftover dough for one more (just!) So why not. Starting with a cold pan, I lowered my burner to its lowest setting. This waffle gave me a bit of the exterior sparkle I was looking for but turned out to be quite similar to the baked waffle. There wasn’t much variation in texture and it had a pasty quality that I personally wasn’t a fan of.
Sadly, I never quite got that perfect mix of crispy fluffy on the outside / chewy on the inside that you get from a store-bought egg waffle. As with most bakes, temperature control and even heating are so important, and the bumpy shape of the egg waffle makes it almost impossible to do manually, in a home setting.
We could probably mimic the results with a commercial electric waffle maker, but that’s $ 150 more to find out.
Or, you know, you can also just pay the $ 5.50 and buy one at the store.
Hong Kong Egg Waffle
By Farah Celjo
For 2 people
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tbsp tapioca flour
- 2 tbsp custard
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup the water
- ¼ cup evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup sugar
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- Pinch of salt
1. Sift the flour, baking powder, tapioca, custard powder into a bowl. Stir in the salt.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, water, evaporated milk, vanilla, sugar and oil until blended.
3. Add the wet mixture into the dry and whisk to form a smooth paste.
4. Grease your egg plate or waffle iron with a little oil or non-stick spray and heat. Pour ½ to ¾ cup of batter, depending on the size of the baking sheet / iron, making sure the batter is evenly distributed in your pan.
5. Cook 2-3 minutes, turn and cook another 2-3 minutes.
6. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly and be sure to serve hot.