(True Belgian waffles)
Few foods immediately evoke the warm, hazy feelings of breakfast more so than the Belgian waffle. Unlike the contemporary American rendition, true gaufres de Bruxelles are airy, thin, and slightly crispy with distinctly deep pockets. It should be noted that the authentic variety is also enjoyed at all hours of the day. Waffles come from an age-old tradition of cooking runny batter between iron plates heated over a wood burning fire. Though this practice can be dated back to the ancient Greeks, the more familiar version of the waffle came into play sometime in the Middle Ages.
One of the biggest distinctions between the fluffy, dense treat we find at our local IHOP and the lighter, more flavorful cake purchased straight from a Belgian street vendor lies in the leavening agent. American waffles typically depend on baking powder instead of fermented yeast, creating a large difference in the flavor profile. While waffles weren’t originally prepared with sweeteners, and are still often enjoyed as savory treats, gaufres de Bruxelles can usually be found topped off with confectioner’s sugar and a healthy dollop of sweet cream butter.
I tried my absolute best to recreate a recipe for true Belgian waffles in my own midwestern kitchen. The crispy edges created for a interesting contrast against the plushy center, while the full-bodied batter spoke for itself. With fresh fruit and powdered sugar, the waffle stands alone as a satisfying midday snack. Unfortunately, my American sensibilities could not resist drowning the cakes in syrup…