Brussels Waffles

First off, can I say how proud I am of this photo? Really, all the photos I've taken lately, which should be getting up here SOON! We moved into our beautiful, beautiful new home, which has a huge front window with a large, white ledge where I can prop my creations with not only a wonderful white backdrop, but a lot of natural light. The shadowing can get tricky, but I've had some good luck with lighting, so far!

This delicious dish you see above was breakfast this morning...though, I suppose it was really more like brunch, considering how late I made it :) Billy and I recently went on a shopping trip with my mother to take advantage of the ever-elusive thirty percent off coupon she had for Kohl's, where I found a great, stainless steel, Belgian waffle iron by Food Network. HAD to have it! 

The funny thing is, I've generally hated waffles all my life. When my parents would make them for breakfast, they had to make a separate batch of pancakes, just for me. Recently, though, I've learned to love the crisp outer crust of these beauties, and decided I needed a waffle iron so I could start making them. 

Recalling that the only waffles I was willing to eat were Big Boy's Belgian waffles, I thought it only fitting to purchase a Belgian waffle iron...and to begin my search for the most authentic recipe I could find! That's where I discovered that the waffles we, in America, know as "Belgian" are actually Brussels waffles, specifically, as there are many more than one type of Belgian waffle, all with their own unique texture/flavor. The difference between these and a more traditional waffle you'd make at home is that Brussels waffles are made with yeast...which I found very exciting since I've been baking my own bread.

While I found the dough/batter quite easy to put together, cooking it scared the life out of me. With a more traditional batter, you simply pour it to cover the peaks of the bottom iron. The yeast dough, however, is much thicker and stickier, like a very, very wet bread dough. The issue that arose is I couldn't simply pour it as needed...even spooning it with a ladle was a problem. I found the most foolproof way to fill the iron was to use a soup spoon, placing a dollop of doughy batter in each corner of each quadrant (the iron has four quadrants and I prefer to fill them separately so that I have four perfect, small waffles, rather than filling the entire bottom as one and having a giant waffle with four quarters that end up being cracked apart anyway). Therefore, I used four spoonfuls per quadrant/waffle. This method ended up working quite well for me and I was able to spread the batter quickly and get that baby closed for even cooking. I'm excited to do it again in the future!

Now, as far as I've seen, our restaurant Belgian waffles are always served with fruit, ice cream, and whipped cream...which I ADORE. However, I've been reading that, in Belgium, these waffles are actually served as snacks with simply powdered sugar! I find, of course, that you should eat them however you like :) which is why I made myself a pair of waffles with a dusting of powdered sugar, two spoonfuls of Belgian chocolate spread, a few slices of banana, and a giant...GIANT scoop of toasted almond gelato. Scrumptious. Simply scrumptious :)

Billy had half his waffles with chocolate syrup and half with Golden Griddle, which I ended up copying with one of my waffles because I was feeling jealous by missing the simple flavor of maple syrup. Eating two waffles each with a different topping was the best of both worlds! I highly recommend it :)

Gauffre de Bruxelles: Brussels Waffles (recipe courtesy of europeancuisines.com)
makes approximately eight to nine 4x4" waffles

I cut down the original recipe so that it would feed 2-4 people, in which case the measurements aren't perfect (you'll see many 1/3's), but definitely work. For this recipe, you will need a scale, as all but three ingredients are measured by weight.

  • 3/4 pound flour (I used all-purpose because type wasn't specified. I may experiment with bread flour later)
  • 10 grams instant yeast
  • 8 1/3 grams brown sugar
  • 14 oz lukewarm water (use tepid, sparkling water, if possible)
  • 83 1/3 grams powdered, nonfat dry milk
  • 3 1/3 grams salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 133 1/3 grams melted butter
  • 3 egg whites

Note: All of your mixing can easily be done with a wooden spoon, even after the doughy batter has proofed and become thick and sticky. An electric mixer of any sort is not necessary and I don't recommend it.

Measure the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center; add the yeast and 3 oz of the water. Add the brown sugar, powdered milk, salt, vanilla extract, and remaining water. Mix the dough well, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for at least 20-30 minutes. During this period, melt the butter and allow it to cool.

When your dough is finished proofing, add the melted butter and mix well; then, beat your egg whites to stiff peaks. You don't want to do this until the very last minute because they'll break down if left to wait! Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter until fully incorporated. At this point, it's okay if your batter sits while you wait for the waffle iron to preheat and as you make multiple batches.

A Belgian waffle maker will give more "authentic" waffles, but you can obviously use any iron you have; the dimples simply won't be as deep. You should use your iron as recommended by the manufacturer. My iron has four quadrants, in which case, I can make four small waffles all at once (about 4x4" each). As most irons tend to have a similar setup of quadrants, I suggest using these to your advantage and filling each separately rather than trying to fill the entire bottom of the iron at once, which can be difficult with this batter. By filling the quadrants separately, you may work more quickly and fill each more evenly. I like to use a soup spoon (probably holding 1-2 tbsp) to add four spoonfuls of batter, one to each corner of my quadrant, gently pushing the batter to cover it fully. Therefore, in total, I've dropped 16 spoonfuls, four per quadrant. Then I close my lid and wait for the steam to disappear! 

If making multiple batches, you can keep your waffles warm in a 200-250 degree oven. To serve, simply cover with your favorite topping :)

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