If you’ve ever been in Belgium, there will surely be one thing you must have noticed: their love of good food! Being Belgian myself I grew up with the best fries, waffles and chocolates to name a few, but I must admit I had never attempted to make waffles myself, never even had a waffle iron/maker! But I finally got one and I just couldn’t wait to make my very first Belgian waffle here in Ireland! I was a bit worried about the result at first, since I had never made it and there’s no family recipe for it either so I just chanced it and learned as much as I could from Belgian pro’s who had made it before and shared their knowledge. But they turned out absolutely perfect! Crispy on the outside but so soft and light on the inside!
What may shock you about this recipe is that there’s no sugar inside these waffles, apart from a tiny bit of vanilla sugar. That is because you’re meant to add the sweetness on top of it. I always go for some powdered sugar myself but you can go crazy and add berries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce if you’d like. If you’d rather have more sugar on the inside you can add some to the recipe, but then you’re of course not really making a traditional Belgian waffle anymore.
Now in Belgium we don’t actually call these Belgian waffles, we refer to them as Brussels waffles (and we also have Liège waffle). These waffles have been around for centuries, but have changed a bit over the years. They were first made in the Middle Ages, and were sold as crispy unleavened and rich cakes outside churches. Back then they were made out of a mix of barley and oats, of which there was much available to the public. They also used waffle irons, which were two metal plates connected by a hinge and an arm attached to a wooden handle. They then put that iron over a fire, and flipped it like a pancake to cook the waffles on both sides. Many historical articles say that eating waffles was so popular, that King Charles IX of France ruled that waffle vendors had to set up their stalls at least 4 meters away from each other as there were just so many of them.
As I said, the recipe changed over the years and nowadays it’s made with flour and yeast, although more people use baking powder rather than yeast. Some recipes also use normal flour but I used self-raising flour as this combined with the yeast will make the waffles airy and light. I also used dry yeast instead of fresh yeast, for the very simple reason that it’s very hard to find this here in Ireland. The waffles are very easy to make, but you do need a bit of preparation as the dough needs to rest for an hour and a half.
Makes: +-20 waffles
- 400g self-raising flour
- 150g butter
- 200ml boiling water + 100ml cold
- 300ml milk
- 3 eggs
- 8g dry yeast
- 9g vanilla sugar
Start by adding milk, water yeast to a bowl. Mix it together well. Start melting the butter at medium-high eat, and let it cool down a bit before using.
Separate the eggs, put the egg whites in a grease-free bowl and add the yolks to your milk mixture. Mix together really well!
Now sift the flour into the bowl, mix it and add vanilla sugar as well as the butter to it.
Last but not least we’re going to beat the egg whites into a stiff peaks. For this to work you really need to have a clean & grease-free bowl, fresh eggs and some patience. Start beating the whites at low speed until they are foamy, then move on to medium-high. If you’re struggling to get the foam to be sturdy enough, add just a little bit of sugar to it. The result should be a thick foam that should stay put if you hold your cup upside down. Add all of the foam to your bowl and fold them under the mixture carefully with a spatula. Using a mixer at this stage will destroy the texture of the foam and will break your dough.
Cover the bowl with a wet towel and let it stand for 1,5 hours in a draught-free space.
Now that the hard part is over, all you have to do is heat up your waffle iron and bake the waffles until they are brown and crispy on the outside. Some people prefer to grease the iron a little bit with oil or butter, but I didn’t do that myself. Also, be careful not to open the waffle iron too fast, you’ll need to wait at least 2 minutes before opening it or else you might split the dough in half and it ain’t easy to clean that back up!
If you see steam coming from the sides: don’t worry, that’s what we want! Once the steam goes away that usually means your waffles are done, well either that or you accidentally switched off your iron. So check them after 2 minutes, if you’re not happy with it you can continue to bake them longer and check them regularly.
Top them off with some powdered sugar, whipped cream, fresh fruit and chocolate sauce and enjoy, or as they say in Belgium: smakelijk!