Introduction: Empathetic Designing: Making Comforting Homemade Waffles

During this global pandemic, Covid-19, many people are more stressed and uncertain than ever. Not knowing what’s going to happen next, or when society will return to normal can take a toll on people. Since we are all isolated at home with our families at this time, we can all use something to make this bitter time sweet. My father who is working during this time has to wake up early in the morning and prepare breakfast before going to work. Normally, my whole family would be awake by this time, but due to the current situation, this is not the case. This makes it harder for my father as he has to do more in the mornings to prepare for his day. Additionally, when he is in a rush, he tends to leave his dishes and cooking equipment dirty and out of place. As a result, my mother has to then clean up after him and reorganize the kitchen area. This often times upsets her and adds to the list of household chores she has to do every day. In order to alleviate some of the stress put on my mother and father, I plan to make homemade waffles from scratch. Having a breakfast item which can be made ahead of time and reheated, makes a great tasting quick breakfast. It saves time and does not result in a big mess. Waffles can be sweetened with syrup to the way you like them. When the whole world seems to be bitter at the current situation, treating yourself with a sweet treat makes you feel a lot better. Not to mention, everyone appreciates when they’re cooked a homemade meal.



  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • butter/non-stick cooking spray
  • maple syrup/honey (optional)
  • whipped cream (optional)

Cooking equipment:

  • waffle iron
  • large mixing bowl
  • spatula
  • hand beater
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • ladle
  • cooling rack & sheet pan (optional) - allows waffles to cool without getting soggy
  • cooking tongs

Cleaning supplies:

  • dish soap & sponge - to clean cooking equipment
  • paper towel - clean cooking surfaces
  • drying towel - dry clean equipment and store away neatly

Reheating supplies:

  • saran wrap
  • freezer/fridge - preserve made waffles
  • toaster oven/microwave

Step 1: Empathetic Research

Empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” In this case, compassionate empathy is displayed through the designer’s ability to understand the client’s situation, and feel moved to help them. Showing empathy is when you are able to place yourself in someone else’s situation and understand what that person’s feeling. This understanding will improve the way humans interact with one another. I was able to empathize with my parents by observing the amount of stress put onto them by the current situation. My father stated, “I need to leave the house quickly, so I don't have time to make a good breakfast.” “With you being at home more, there is more cleaning to do. It frustrates me when I find extra messes to clean up,” my mother added. Homemade waffles can be reheated in a microwave oven, or toaster in minutes and eaten on the go. The minimal amount of cooking equipment needed, along with the quick prep time, allows my father to leave the house quicker and relieves my mother of extra cleaning duties.

Step 2: Gather Supplies

Gather all ingredients and cooking equipment.

Step 3: Mix Dry Ingredients

Measure out the correct amount of each dry ingredient. In a large mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients together using a hand beater.

Dry ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon white sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt

Equipment used: large mixing bowl, hand beater, measuring cup, measuring spoons

Step 4: Mix Wet & Dry Ingredients

Once the dry ingredients are mixed, add the wet ingredients to the large mixing bowl. When all wet ingredients are in the bowl, use the hand beater to mix the wet and dry ingredients together until it becomes a smooth consistency.

Wet ingredients: 2 eggs, 1 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 tea spoon vanilla extract

Equipment used: large mixing bowl, hand beater, measuring cup, measuring spoons

Step 5: Set Up Cooking Apparatus

Heat up the waffle iron and have the cooling rack and tongs near by. This allows for easy removal of cooked waffles from the hot iron. The cooling rack allows the hot waffles to cool down without becoming soggy.

Equipment used: waffle iron, tongs, cooling rack and sheet pan (optional)

Step 6: Butter/Spray Waffle Iron

Use non stick spray or butter, to coat the waffle iron to prevent waffles from sticking after cooking is complete. Be sure to refer back to your waffle iron's instruction manual for proper use. When applying butter, make sure the iron is hot and butter should not be soft. Simply rub a stick of butter quickly across the iron, leaving a very light coat. When using cooking spray, be sure to apply brief gentle sprays. Excessive amounts of butter or spray may affect the taste of the waffle and cooking ability of the iron.

Step 7: Cook the Waffles

Use the ladle to pour the batter into the waffle iron. Once the iron is full, cook the waffles to your liking. I prefer to have crisp waffles, therefore I recommend setting the iron to the hottest temp.

Note: It is important to be familiar with the operation of your waffle iron by this step. Improper use of the iron may result in burnt/undercooked waffles, or damage of your equipment.

Step 8: Remove Waffles

Remove the waffles from the iron when cooking is complete using tongs.

Caution: Waffles should be very hot. Allow them to cool on the cooling rack before serving.

Step 9: Enjoy or Save

You may now dress up the waffles to your liking and enjoy fresh homemade waffles, or allow them to completely cool (at least 30 min) and wrap them in saran wrap. Next, place the waffles in a freezer or fridge. They can later be reheated for a quick breakfast or snack.

Optional Ingredients: maple syrup, honey, whipped cream

Supplies for reheating: saran wrap, freezer/fridge, microwave/toaster oven

It is recommended that you allow the waffles to thaw out over night in the fridge before reheating. This will cut down reheating time, and result in a better waffle texture. From the fridge, place waffles into the microwave (30 sec., 80% power) or toaster oven (recommended time: 4 min on "toast" function). If waffles are frozen, place in microwave (1min, 80% power) or toaster oven (6 min on "toast" function).

I recommend thawing out the waffles before reheating them in the toaster oven. Reheating frozen waffles will make them more soggy due to residual moisture and using a microwave leaves a softer texture. A toaster oven heats the waffles evenly leaving you with a crisp texture. I recommend turning over the waffles halfway through heating in the toaster oven so that each side heats up evenly.

Step 10: Cleaning the Equipment & Area

Now that cooking is complete, remember to clean all equipment and cooking areas. If you are unable to wash the equipment right away, soaking the equipment in warm water to soften dried batter. This makes scrubbing easier.

Suggested Cleaning Equipment: dish soap, sponge, paper towel, drying cloth/towel

Step 11: Revisiting Empathetic Design

This project fulfills each criteria created by empathetic design. By making the waffles and properly storing them to be reheated later, I have accomplished my goal of providing my father, who has to leave the house early, with a quick meal, as well as creating a sweet snack to take our minds off these tough times. Additionally, I rid my mother of additional cleaning duties created when my father leaves behind dirty dishes, as he doesn't have time to clean up after himself. Washing, cleaning, and storing the equipment fulfills the last criteria. I created this project in hopes of relieving stress in my family created by the current pandemic. Now that I have accomplished this, I hope that anyone who is experiencing similar stress due to the current situation, can follow along with the steps that I have taken to create a great tasting, quick treat for their family.

First Time Author Contest

Participated in the
First Time Author Contest