- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Wafering irons are long-handled iron tongs with circular or rectangular plates. These plates are engraved, incised or punched with designs and inscriptions which would be impressed into the wafer when in use. The long handles serve to keep the user at a safe distance from the hot fire.
Some irons were used to make Eucharistic wafers for the Mass and are decorated with religious imagery. Many other surviving irons were used to make wafers or waffles (cialde or cialdoni) to be eaten at weddings, baptisms, and festivals, particularly on the Sunday before Lent. Thin decorated wafers were served at the end of a festive meal with candied fruit, spiced wine and nuts.
Their use originated in Umbria in Italy in the later fifteenth-century. The irons were greased and heated, batter was poured on and they were pressed together, so that the decoration in relief transferred onto the cooked wafer. The grease used to make the wafers may have helped to prevent rust on the irons.