I had the good fortune, some years ago, to visit Bruges, Belgium. It is a beautiful and preserved Medieval city that I had been wanting to visit for some time. They have the best chocolate (really, really… the best) and beer and waffles! absolutely wonderful waffles. Now, there are two kinds of waffles in Belgium I’ve encountered: the sugar-middle street fare and the light, crisp and delicate cafe version. This post is dedicated to the latter as I find the former to be far too sweet. After returning to the states, I spent months searching and experimenting on recipes to get back to that elusive Belgian waffle. Below, I shall share what finally worked and why. But for now, I must explain how a fluffy Belgian waffle saved me. So… the ATM’s in Belgium are different from the ones in the states. I had recently gotten married and I had only a single debit card in my new name which is a bit of a problem to match with my new id cards and passport. At the time, I had no reason to believe I really needed more than one card so I only brought the one. I was not familiar with european ATM machines and unfortunately, forgot my card in it… my only card!!! Luckily, my very kind sister in law helped me out… and was stuck with a grumpy and somewhat devastated me who’s thinking of all the ways I might not be able to make it back to the states. I don’t know why we ended up at the cafe that we did land in, but we sat and ordered waffles. When in Rome… Back to the short story made long… after the first bite, which I can only describe as taking a bite of a cloud, I no longer had a care in the world. Other than “is it socially acceptable to order another? Will my sister in law think I’m a big pig who’s going to stuff the last remaining cash in my name into waffles? Delicious, delicious waffles”. I had the most heavenly waffle that completely reversed my misery, wiped it clean away. Light, slightly sweet, and the most simple, delicious waffle I never knew existed.
My biggest regret is not eating more waffles… and not buying more chocolate. The recipe below will yield 3 waffles
Cloud Belgian waffles
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
3 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 cup buttermilk (or 2 Tbsp plain yogurt and 1 cup whole milk)
Turn on your waffle iron. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Combine egg and buttermilk (or yogurt and milk mix) together. Melt butter (30 seconds in the microwaves should suffice). Slowly add the melted butter into the egg mixture while whisking. Add the egg mix to the dry mix. Be sure to whisk as little as possible. Clumps are alright but large lumps need to be broken up. Pour 2/3 of a cup (or 1/3 cup two times) of batter into the waffle iron and spread to the edge then close the iron. Pouring just in the middle and closing makes the waffle more dense and doesn’t really spread as far.
I add sprinkles right before I close the iron for colorful waffles that my kiddies love. Or maybe they’re just humoring me for trying to make breakfast fun. Dust with a little powdered sugar for a proper Belgian waffle, or Americanize it with syrup. I do not think there is a way to mess this guy up! Enjoy!
Couple of tips!
The biggest reason to spend little time blending with the flour mix is when liquid is added to flour, it causes gluten to form. That would be great if you’re making bread or pizza but in the case of waffles or even pancakes, typically a softer crumb is desired. It is a matter of frequency not time, so don’t whisk as quickly as you can in a minute or anything. Also, I’ve seen recipes with whipped egg whites rather than more baking powder. I’ve tried this and I don’t exactly know why but the waffles had a tougher texture and did not taste like taking a bite of a cloud. It was good but I feel this is closer to what I had in Bruges. Also! if you don’t have buttermilk or yogurt, you can just use milk but the acid in those will help tenderize the flour. You can add a tsp of distilled vinegar in a pinch.