Welcome with Waffles

Welcome to my corner of the world. (Cue song by Yo La Tengo.) Well, several corners. I was born in Belgium and raised in the US. As an adult, I have lived on both sides of the Atlantic and it’s hard to say which one is my home. But for our introduction to each other, let’s stay in Belgium where, if you visit someone, you must be fed. Otherwise it doesn’t count.

When you think about Belgian foods, waffles, or gaufres, pop to mind. The most common are Gaufres de Bruxelles which are meltingly light and are usually eaten warm with a knife and fork, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, and topped with  real whipped cream (crème chantilly) and seasonal fruit.  Yes. I know. More on these later.

Today, I want to talk street waffles. Food trucks or carts are nothing new to Belgium. Gaufres de Liège or Liège-Style Waffle vendors dot the pavements all over the country. They are eaten warm while walking down city streets or relaxing on a park bench, each waffle wrapped in a square of waxed paper to keep your hand from getting sticky.

Gaufres de Liège

Liège-style Belgian Waffles

IMG_2500There are many variations to this recipe. This one is fun and simple enough to make with kids.  It also uses dry active yeast instead of fresh. Depending on where you live, fresh yeast can be tricky to find. (I will add another recipe with fresh yeast later.) My daughter and I whipped these up one afternoon when the Liège Waffle craving was too intense to wait and we used ingredients we had on hand. They do not require toppings like Brussels waffles. My kids said one bite made them feel like they were in Belgium.

You can play around with the quantity of pearl sugar, which is the only ingredient that you might have trouble finding. It can be ordered off the internet. It’s worth the extra effort because the pearls don’t melt when cooking the waffles but do soften which ensures sweet, soft sugar pearls throughout the waffle. It’s considered a key ingredient in Liège Waffles. You can read more on the difference between Belgian and Scandinavian sugar pearls here:

Personally I have never been disappointed in Tirlemont sugar. And just to be clear, I have no financial stake in any Belgian sugar sold online or elsewhere.

serves 6

  • 375g (1.5 cups) flour
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 22 cl. (scant 1 cup) warm milk
  • 150g. (2/3 cup) butter, melted
  • 100g. (1/2 cup) pearl Belgian pearl sugar

IMG_24991) Mix the flour, vanilla sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the eggs. Mix well

2) In a separate bowl, mix the yeast and the warm milk

3) Mix well until the dough forms a compact ball

4) Cover the with a dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes at room temperature away from any drafts

5) Add the melted butter and pearl sugar and mix well. These 2 ingredients should be completely mixed in. The dough will be a bit looser

6) Cover with a dish towel and let rise for anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 ½ hours

7) Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a hot waffle iron

8) The waffles cook very quickly so keep an eye on them. They are ready when they are golden brown.

Let cool a few minutes then serve immediately when still warm. They are best when eaten fresh. If you must, freeze any leftovers. Reheat in a toaster or oven. Avoid using the microwave which will change the texture and make them rubbery.

Bon appétit!