Friday, August 5th, 2022

Batter Up!

The Coldwater Squires make the gooey mix for their waffles, a festival delicacy

By Erin Gardner
COLDWATER - There's no better respite from walking around an area festival than biting into a fresh, crispy waffle dusted with powdered sugar.
Just ask Scott Gels, Coldwater Squires chief counselor.
The Coldwater Squires make the festival food favorite for the Coldwater K of C Picnic and the Coldwater Community Picnic every year.
"My dad and mom have been making waffles for the Squires for at least 50 years," Gels said.
The Squires have the waffle process down to a science. They make the batter a few days ahead of the festival, which consists of flour, sugar, water and a few secret ingredients.
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Coldwater Squires assistant counselor Mike Simper and head counselor Scott Gels mix their famous waffle batter in a five-gallon bucket Thursday evening at The Gels Home Bed and Breakfast in Coldwater. Waffles can be purchased at the Coldwater Community Picnic this weekend for $3 a bag.

On the day of the festival, the group fills a five-gallon bucket with batter. Designed to incorporate the family, the operation has the fathers manning the fryer, the moms sugaring and bagging the waffles and the Squires bagging and selling the waffles, Gels said.
The dads will dip the rosette iron into the batter and put it into the oil to fry, giving the waffles their signature floral shape.
"It's got those little rosette irons that come out in that waffle shape that everybody's used to in this area," Gels said. "After they've fried, you can tell when they're done cooking. They kind of sit for a little while and cool down, and then we'll have a crew of people that will put the powdered sugar on. After they're sugared and cooled down in the bag, they're ready to sell."
The iron molds originally came with one rosette, but the Celina Knights of Columbus came up with the idea of a handle with three rosettes, said Ralph Gels, Scott's father. Lefeld Welding 40 years ago designed the handle with the three irons for the Coldwater Squires.
"That way we can cook three on an iron, so you're cooking 12 at a time," Scott Gels said.
Any local worth their salt knows what makes a waffle a waffle is the thinness and crispiness, he said. Those qualities depend on the batter.
"You don't want to let the iron sit in the batter too long," he said. "As far as the crispiness… if you take them out too early, they get a little bit doughy and chewy. If you leave them in too long, they get too crispy and too dark. The crew that is frying them at the time has to just trial and error to get that right mix to get the right color (and) crunchiness."
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

A finished waffle.

Typically, it takes three to five minutes to fry a waffle to perfection, Scott Gels said.
The waffles have long been loved by community members of all ages, he added.
"You'll have other family members buying a box of them (waffles) so that they can send them to their kids who aren't able to make the picnic," he said. "That's part of the Coldwater Community Picnic and the Coldwater K of C Picnic. If you go to the picnic, you got to have a bag of waffles, and it doesn't matter if you're from the area or not from the area. If you're not from the area, people here are going to tell you to get waffles so that you can experience them. And if you are from the area, you know to go get waffles."
Ken Schmiesing of the Knights of Columbus Celina Council 1800, agreed locals crave waffles because they have the perfect amount of sweetness.
"I think there (are) probably a lot of individuals around here that have a sweet tooth and it's just that perfect recipe of sweetness," he said. "You get a little crunch out of them just when you have that little bit of a hunger tang and (it) hits the sweet spot."
Waffles can be purchased for $3 a bag at the Coldwater Community Picnic this weekend. The Knights of Columbus also will sell waffles on Main Street in Celina for the U.S. Route 127 yard sales this weekend.
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Two and a half bags of flour get poured into five-gallon bucket.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Nathan Cupp pours sugar into a measuring cup as Janet Gels watches.

Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Helpers pour mixed waffle batter into a bucket.

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