Belgian Waffles at Home

The first written mention of a waffle is from Le Ménagier de Paris, a late fourteenth-century French aide-memorie. There it is stated: Gauffres (waffles) are made in four ways. In the first, beat eggs in a bowl, then salt and wine, and add flour, and moisten the one with the other, and then put in two irons little by little, each time using as much batter as a slice of cheese is wide, and clap between two irons, and cook one side and then the other; and if the iron does not easily release the batter, anoint with a little cloth soaked in oil or fat. – The second way is like the first, but add cheese, that is, spread the batter as though making a tart or pie, then put slices of cheese in the middle, and cover the edges [with batter]; thus the cheese stays within the batter and thus you put it between two irons. – The third method, is for dropped waffles, called dropped only because the batter is thinner like clear soup, made as above; and throw in with it fine cheese grated; and mix it all together. – The fourth method is with flour mixed with water, salt and wine, without eggs or cheese (Janet Hinson, trans).

They were popular in France at that time and often eaten with the wine of Cyprus which enjoyed a great reputation in France but then but was very expensive.  The table wine was hypocras, a wine sweetened with sugar or honey and fortified with spices, also associated with a kind of waffle called a métier.

We know less about waffles in Belgium but they were probably sold by street vendors in the Middle Ages outside of churches. However, the Belgian waffle, the famous one, is not as old. It was first showcased in 1958 at Expo 58 in Brussels and was popularized after the 1964 World’s Fair in New York where it was introduced to a wider American audience. That was where I first tasted it at Belgium’s pavilion at the World’s Fair. I along with others went nuts over it.

In Brussels a waffle is best the further away you get from tourists. I also had them years later on the Rue de Brasseurs. There are two major kinds: gaufres de Bruxelles and gaufres de Liege.  The kind from Brussels has the whipped cream and strawberry syrup and the one from Liege was plain with sugar.  This was very close to a tourist heavy zone, so the waffles weren’t too good. Waffles cannot be made ahead of time; they must be made to order and finally it was in Antwerp that I had the real thing. After drifting around I came upon a nice café that specialized in waffles, Quinten Matsys on Oude Koornmarkt 21.  Here were some beautiful waffles.  Big, light and airy with fresh whipped cream and ripe strawberries.  These were the waffles I had been looking for.  My friend and I sat outdoors in brilliant sunshine and quietly ate our waffles.  Every bite was ecstasy and we were happy that we finally found the real thing.  I noted that they were freshly made.

Belgian Waffles
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe will make 4 or 5 Belgian waffles. After they are made, spread cold whipped cream on top and thee strawberries.
Recipe type: Waffles
Cuisine: Belgian
Serves: 6
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • Whipped cream
  • Fresh small strawberries
  1. In a butter warmer, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, then resift with the baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. In a 4-cup measuring glass, beat the egg yolks well, then add the milk and melted butter, stirring as you pour it in. In another measuring glass or deep bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric or hand mixer until they form peaks.
  4. Pour the liquid ingredients, except for the egg whites, into the dry ingredients and fold, don’t beat, with a just a few strokes with a fork. The batter should be lumpy. It should never be beaten, only folded until everything is mixed. Fold the egg whites into the batter until they are well blended.
  5. Preheat a waffle iron over medium heat. Cook according to the instructions of the waffle iron, which should not require any oil or butter, but use it if you’re worried about sticking. Cover with whipped cream and strawberries once all the waffles you want to make are made and then serve immediately.


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