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 4 waffles
Cloud Belgian waffles
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
4 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 2 Tbsp plain yogurt and 1 cup whole milk or 1 cup milk and juice from half a lemon) *1 1/2 cup milk for desert or elevation
Turn on your waffle iron. Mix the first four ingredients together in a bowl.
Melt butter (30 seconds in the microwaves should suffice). Whisk butter and sugar together. Add your egg and whisk until smooth. Add your buttermilk to the egg mix and whisk smooth.
Combine your liquid and dry ingredients. 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 gently 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. Also be careful to not disturb the batter after you’ve mixed. The leaveners (baking soda and powder) will have been activated and will create bubbles. If you disturb these bubbles you lose fluff in the waffles and they will become more dense.
Dust with a little powdered sugar for a proper Belgian waffle, or Americanize it with syrup. I add some sprinkles for my kids. 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 waffles had a tougher texture. It seems the additional protein from the eggs 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.