Thursday, 5 May 2011

Authentic Belgian Waffles

Photo courtesy of Nancy Brown

Ok, I have a confession to make.  Even though I was really excited about the Royal Wedding and chose to bake a few things to help celebrate it, I wasn't even in the country to watch it!   Why?  Because I had booked a 3 day trip to Brussels instead!  In hindsight I should have booked my Brussels trip to leave a day earlier so I could be back on UK soil to watch and celebrate the Royal Wedding live with everyone else, but I choose to use my Airmiles for the flights in order to fly for free, so flight availability was a bit tight.  Instead, I recorded the Royal Wedding and watched it on Friday evening when we got home.  Didn't Kate look amazing?  And did you see their cake?? 

It turns out that we went to Brussels at the perfect time.  The weather was almost perfect (except for a torrential downpour during our day trip to Brugge - but that only lasted half an hour before the sun popped out again), there were minimal crowds, and the food was delicious. But the best thing of all were the waffles!  Oooh the waffles!  I'd always thought Belgian Waffles were just a larger thicker waffle with whipped cream & berries on top - nothing really different than a regular waffle, but boy was I wrong!  The waffles that we were eating in Belgium weren't like anything I'd ever had before. They were crispy and caramelised around the edges, and the actual waffle was chewy and yeasty and full of vanilla flavour.  As far as toppings go, we had a choice from the simple yet always delicious Nutella, or the Belgian specialty Specaloos to strawberries piled high with whipped cream.  I opted for Nutella, because after seeing the ridiculously tiny fork they give you to eat your waffle with, there was NO way I could manage eating one covered in strawberries and whipped cream.  After biting into my first Belgian Waffle I just knew I had to recreate them at home.  After getting back to our hotel room and quickly googling an authentic Belgian waffle recipe I discovered that the waffles I'd fallen in love with were actually called Leige Waffles or "Gaufres de Leige" in French - but for the simplicities sake I'm just going to continue calling them Belgian waffles ok?


See those silly little forks!

The main differences between Belgian Waffles (aka Leige Waffles) is that they use yeast as a rising agent in them, and the batter is more like a very sticky dough rather than a runny batter like North American waffles are.  They also had something completely different in them that resulted in their caramelised edges - pearl sugar!  I'd never seen or heard of pearl sugar before, and instead of looking like little pearls it actually looked more like white the white little rocks you'd find in a fancy planter or walkway.  I did manage to find some pearl sugar in a Belgian grocery store.  


I've read that it can be rather hard to find outside of Belgium, but crushed up sugar cubes can be used in place of of pearl sugar if you can't find it.  The recipe I used called for 1 cup of pearl sugar, but after making the waffles I would suggest reducing that amount down to 1/2 a cup.  I thought the pearl sugar would have melted while the waffles were cooking in the iron, but most of it didn't which did result in nice little crunchy bits in the waffles, but I thought 1 cup of pearl sugar was just too much.  I opted to top my waffle off with Nutella (my favourite), even though I did have some other specialty Belgian toppings that I brought back as well.  The waffles were delicious, and very very similar to the waffles we had in Brussels.



Belgian Waffles (aka Leige Waffles)
Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients:
1 (1/4 ounce or 6g) package yeast
1/3 Cup (80ml) Lukewarm Water
1 1/2 Tbs Sugar
1/8 tsp Salt
2 Cups (250g) Flour
2 tsp Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Bean Paste
3 eggs
1 Cup (225g) Softened Butter
1/2 Cup (approx 1-2 handfuls) Pearl Sugar or Crushed Sugar Cubes

Instructions:
1.  Mix yeast, water, sugar and salt, and let develop for 15 minutes.
2.  Place flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Pour in yeast mixture and vanilla and begin to knead.  Continue to knead while adding the eggs one at a time, along with approx 2-3 Tbsp of the soft butter at a time.  Make sure the dough is mixed well.
3.  Leave the dough in a warm spot to rise in the bowl until doubled - approx 1.5 - 2 hours.
4.  Gently mix the pearl sugar into the dough, and let rest for 15 minutes.  Heat waffle iron.


5.  Place about 1/3 cup of the waffle dough into the middle of your hot waffle iron and spread out slightly with a fork or spatula.  Cook the waffles on low heat for 3-5 minutes, until waffles lightly brown on top.

My waffle iron - sorry it had too many crumbs to take a photo of the inside!

6.  Serve the waffles warm with your choice of topping such as Nutella, Fruit, Whipped Cream, Specaloos, etc.



There's that tiny fork again!

I don't think I could live without my waffle iron.  Thanks to some good friends back in Canada, it was one of the first appliances we got when we moved to the UK as we got it for a wedding gift.  Waffle irons aren't nearly as common here in the UK as they are in North America, so finding a waffle iron in physical store can be kind of hard. Often if a store does carry waffle irons in stock, they will only have 1 or 2 brands or designs.  The waffle iron I have is no longer available, but if you're looking to purchase one I'd recommend the one below.

23 comments:

katescakesandbakes said...

Those look lush! We're hoping to go to Bruges later this year...I'll try not to eat for at least the preceding 72 hours in order to have plenty of room to indulge every possible variety of waffle!

A Trifle Rushed said...

They look delicious, and now I need a waffle iron!!! Thanks for a super post, and I'm glad you got to watch the wedding, we followed via iPad from Brittany, and yes the cake was splendid! Jude x

Valerie said...

OMG that's a real waffle! I've never been to Belgium, but i have a friend living over there, after seeing those waffles i really want to go there and be lucky like you!

Lala said...

Wow! I couldn't stop looking at the photos. I love waffles! Thanks for the recipe. Can I omit the pearl sugar in this recipe? Thanks.

TheMadHouse said...

These look amazing. I am so glad that I don't have a waffle iron, if I did I would be evn fatter. We love Belgium and visited a lot pre children and this hs brought back lovely memories

Made With Pink said...

Lala, the pearl sugar is partially what makes these waffles so authentic. If you definitely do want to omit the pearl sugar, then you'll need to add a bit more sugar (maybe 1/4 cup?) to the batter to sweeten it up.

Maggie@BritishBaking said...

I was dreaming about these sugar pearls the other day!! I didn't know what they were - but I've recognised them in waffles and in a lemon loaf cake too (at the top) and they're just wow.

Thanks so much for sharing your secret ingredient, I hope you bought lots of them back to the UK with you. I'm off to see if I can buy them online somewhere! :)

LittleAsianGirl BigAppetite said...

omgg!! love love love belgian waffles..so delicious..esp when topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits or nutella!! def one of my fave breakfast items

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I'm crazy about waffles! Would love to have the kit to make them myself!

Taya said...

Wow those waffles look sooo delicious! My mouth is watering. Is that the waffle maker we got you guys?! Sounds like you had an amazing time in Belgium :)

catering Fort Lauderdale said...

This is a very great post. The Belgian waffles look really delicious. This is one breakfast treat that the whole family will surely enjoy.

Rakel said...

Thanks for the lovely recipe, and for anyone looking for pearl sugar in other countries, here in Sweden we have it (in case that's closer for anyone) and we call it 'pärlsocker'. I hope this helps someone :-) It's waffle day this weekend so I'm going to give these a whirl, I love authentic Belgian waffles!

Anonymous said...

I visited Bruges 2 weeks ago so was thrilled to find this recipe here. The results were light and fluffy with a delicious crispy outside. We topped them with nutella, strawberries, banana and cream. To die for!
Thank you for sharing now I just need to find the pearl sugar in Australia . The sugar cubes still gave a lovely crunch though...

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous recipe. You can get pearl sugar from http://bakerybits.co.uk/Pearl-or-Nibbed-Sugar-P2026518.aspx which is pretty reasonably priced!

Maria_W said...

I go to Belgium four times a year for work, and I love the waffles! I'm always asking the different vendors for they're secrets. I have been told that they use honey and soda water in the batter. Have you heard of this?

Amy Rembacki said...

We are currently stationed over here in Belgium, but when we go back to the States in 2 years, I am going to need a recipe for the waffles since we simply cannot do without them now! lol. I will be trying this one soon! Over here, you just can't pass up the storefronts when you smell that sweet vanilla scent of fresh waffles and cappuccino! :-)

Anonymous said...

Little add to your post, Lovely to read btw.
I'm from Belgium, I love our waffles, but the other name is "Luikse wafel" or "Gauffre de Liège". Liège is a city in Belgium :) ;)
Groetjes uit België

Anonymous said...

My husband was stationed in Germany 22 years ago. We went to Belgium and I had my first true Belguim waffle. OH MY!! I still rememeber the taste. Just like you, I always thought they were just how they are made in the USA. Thank you for this recipe. I can't wait to try. I'm also going to google the pearl sugar to see if I can buy it on line. It also seems to me they put the waffle iron in a wood stove type thingee. These were the street vendors....Not really sure, as that was so long ago ;) Thank you!

Anonymous said...

In the photo with the tiny forks, one topping looks like Nutella, the other looks like chocolate and something akin to dulce de leche. What is it for certain? I have seen it in other photos. Thanks.

Tina Christensen said...

I stumbled upon your blog via Pinterest...These waffles look delicious! Can't wait to try them. You can find Pearl Sugar at IKEA. At least, that's where I last purchased mine. They use Pearl Sugar in Europe and Scandinavia. My mother is from Sweden, and we grew up with it...still can be hard to find, look for online import stores too.

Made With Pink said...

Hi Everyone, thank you so much for all your nice and helpful comments. For some reason I'm not getting email alerts to let me know you've commented, and it's hard to keep up with some of my older posts.

To answer your questions:

The toppings on the wafffles with the little fork are Nutella, and the other one has both melted white chocolate and dark chocolate.

Tina, Great tip on the perl sugar! I'd never thought to check Ikea before. We have one fairly close to us, and I've been meaning to go lately so will look for it there.

Revisiting this post has made me crave these again! Good thing I've still got some extra pearl sugar. I might try and find a way to combine honey and soda into this recipe.

Anonymous said...

What about the malted milk powder?

Anonymous said...

It's Liege waffles, not leige and Speculoos not specoloos

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