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Belgian beauties. Yes, they’re worth it. (Have fun, search engines.)

September 15, 2009

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For many years, I claimed to be a strict savory breakfast eater. No pancakes for me. No waffles. No French toast. No funny little Danishes. No, thank you. I’ll take eggs, I’d say. Give me an omelet any day. And more bacon. And sausage.

I stand by my love for the saltier breakfast fare, but I admit that a taste for the sweet has crept in there. And in the case of these Belgian waffles, perhaps more than crept. Maybe more like stormed in with the sound and fury of the first ten minutes of a Michael Bay movie.

It’s important to note that I included the nationality “Belgian” in the description of these waffles. I mean, an ordinary waffle is nothing to stop traffic for. A pancake, unless packed with extra love and ingredients (see the husband’s Orange Ricotta Pancakes), is tasty but not remarkable. French toast is, too often, just some eggy bread. But those Belgians were onto something. They’ve taken an ordinary breakfast bread and, er, waffled it, expanding the possible crispy delectable surface area by multiples. It’s crispy, yet fluffy and soft. It’s caramelly and yet also complex. It’s fragrant and, yes, oh so seductive. Still more fiendishly, it has these generous square cups to hold syrup or trap dainty pieces of fruit or puddles of ice cream in. Is genius too strong a word? I think not.

How did this love affair begin? When we encountered some outstanding Belgian waffles at a local restaurant one evening as a dessert item. Granted, I was nine months pregnant and out for the rare dinner without a two-year-old, so that might have made them extra delicious. But the husband’s reaction was even more mighty (and, let’s face it, predictable). He ran right out and bought himself a Belgian waffle iron (natch) and set to work trying to replicate said waffles. After several batches of subpar waffles – which I managed to force down – this recipe emerged.

Is it worth it? Is it worth wrangling with those yeastie-beasties? Waiting an hour for the batter to “develop flavors”? Worth buying a freakin’ Belgian waffle maker? I can only speak for myself. And the answer is: Yes, indeed, and please pass the waffles.

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And now, the Husband’s take…

I know, you’re thinking, “Waffles are easy.” And if you just whip together commercial pancake mix, then you’re right. These waffles are something else. They’re more like a “gateway drug” to interesting culinary possibilities. You see, these waffles eschew chemical leaveners like baking soda and baking powder. Instead, they gain their volume and gusto from a combination of whipped egg whites and slower acting yeast.

Wait, wait… I know what you are thinking: Yeast is a microorganism that should be left in the hands of serious bakers. But, think of the potential magic to be unlocked. The yeast provides not only volume, but also delicious taste. It provides the tang of fermentation that makes these waffles serious contenders for glory. While they are a great breakfast/brunch food, they are also great for dessert with a little ice cream or even just nude as a snack.

In addition, if you get hooked on these waffles, you just might find yourself experimenting with other tasty, yeast-oriented projects… like donuts, bagels, country loaves or those crunchy, crusty French baguettes. The possibilities are really endless once you make friends with yeast. You just might become an addict.

Before I go, just a little note. These are not quick-to-make waffles from the back of the box. I typically make them for weekend brunch or as a dessert for a party. The big reason is that you need some time to let the flavor develop. So, either begin the process early in the morning or start the night before, refrigerate the batter and then let it warm back up on the counter an hour or two before you make the waffles. In any case, you will be incredibly well rewarded for a little patience.

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Belgian Waffles

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk (warm or room temperature)
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. rapid rise yeast
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt

Directions:
1. Let the milk come to room temperature, or warm it. This is important because the yeast will not be getting the classic bloom you see with bread recipes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt (dry ingredients) and whisk to integrate. In another bowl, combine the milk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla and whisk until homogeneous (wet ingredients). Finally, in a third bowl, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.

3. In the larger bowl, combine the dry and wet ingredients until they just come together. The mass should be relatively dense and very sticky.

4. Fold in the egg white in three stages. In the first stage, you can be a tad bit rougher as the moisture of the whites will make the mixture more workable. In the next two installments, simply work the whites in just enough as to bring the mixture together and ensure there are no large portions of whites. You don’t want to overdo this step. We want the air and moisture to integrate well.

5. Let the batter rest covered on the counter for a minimum of 1 hour. If you take more than 3 hours, move the batter to the refrigerator. The batter should expand significantly (double) and may require a stir to keep form overflowing if the bowl is small.

6. Ensure your waffle maker is as hot as possible before pouring on the batter. Cook until the waffles reach a golden brown. Serve as desired.

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28 comments

  1. You didn’t scare me off by suggesting the use of yeast. I love yeast and the wonderful things one can make with it (as you mentioned above). It’s the whipped egg whites. I know they’re not complicated, and in fact I have a waffle recipe that calls for them…which I have ignored for years now. But! Between your photos and your testimonials, I think waffles of this caliber are in my future. Only thing is, they’ll likely be cooked on my Mickey Mouse waffle iron. Thanks for the recipe. :)

    Anyway, I found you through FoodGawker and am writing to say that if you have any photos that aren’t accepted there, I’d love to publish them. Visit my new site (below), it’s a lot of fun! I hope you will consider it.

    Best,
    Casey
    Editor
    http://www.tastestopping.wordpress.com


  2. Would you need to gently put the batter into the iron, as not to deflate it, or is it ok to let the air get out and then dump it in?

    Greetings from the netherlands!
    *yes, I know, only half an hour away from Belgium, yet I don’t know this stuff.. hahaha*


    • Absolutely, once you have sort of that combination of gluten and egg foam lattice worked out, you don’t want to be whipping it around. With that said, this isn’t a souffle where you need to be overly careful. I just never use too heavy a hand. As for getting it into the maker, I simply ladle it out onto the maker.


  3. Gorgeous closeups!


  4. I really love your blog… Very unique, and I look forward to each new entry. Great writing styles.

    And the waffles look great. Time is all relative, sure on paper an extra few hours for the flavors to pop, but organization gets it all done timely.

    Thanks for the post


  5. Sounds like a good recipe to start before my morning run! Now I just need to get a waffle iron…


  6. A month ago I had seen a wafle maker and I was not sure if I should buy it…. I’m leaning towords yes now! haha Thanks

    Sol


  7. I just discovered you guys. Yay for other husband-wife blogging teams! And double yay for men who really like cooking for their partners. Really, there’s not enough of those voices and stories being told out there in the blogosphere. We’ll be back!


  8. couldnt agree more


  9. Having the right tools in the kitchen is vitally important. As a waffle-lover, I have a wonderful waffle iron (commercial grade – set me back $400) that turns out truly amazing waffles. I’ve got your recipe, and I’ll be giving it a try in a few minutes. I hadn’t tried the whites vs. yolks thing, so I’m exceited about to see how it turns out. Thanks!

    - Walker


  10. I love waffles, and for some reason,I am the only one in my house so any opportunity I am out I get Belgian waffles!


  11. These look absolutely amazing! I just bought a waffler last week and can’t wait to try making this recipe. Quick question: I don’t see where the yolks are used in your directions. Are they part of the wet ingredients? Thanks for the awesome post and beautiful pictures!


  12. Really like the blog and the back and forth between the spouses. We do Mickey Mouse waffles around here since that’s one of our favorite wedding gifts from a loooong time ago. We’re in Austin, Texas so the equivalent for us is breakfast tacos. But, that is another blog posting…

    I have been looking for husband cooking blogs as that is what mine is about.

    http://whendadcooks.blogspot.com

    Chef Dad


  13. Gorgeous recipe, lovely photos. Just one question: your recipe requires two egg yolks, but the method doesn’t state where/when to add them. I’m assuming they go in with the other wet ingredients in step 2?

    Cheers! I’m inspired. :)


  14. Your recipes look amazing and your photos are beautiful!

    I think you might need a The Bitch Stopped Cooking apron! Check out The Bitch Stopped Cooking – a site devoted to the culinary liberation of women and emotional and tactical support for the men who take over!

    http://www.thebitchstoppedcooking.com

    There are some fun products, recipes, and tips! Feel free to leave your own recipes on our forum!


  15. Love your blog – it’s time for another post…don’t keep us waiting!!! Surely your husband is cooking or you must be very hungry! LOL!
    http://www.theromanticvineyard.wordpress.com


  16. Hey guys,

    It’s been too long since I’ve run into husband; figured I’d say hello. The waffles look amazing, but I think the pic of the egg yolk got me going more than anything else! Hope all is well.

    Nick


  17. Hi There,
    Just wanted to compliment this blog and mention that I really miss the posts. I know it’s greedy and unfair to expect more posts…but if you guys have time, I’d love to see more of your inspiring recipes and enjoyable narrative!

    ~S


  18. This is great, men who cook are the ones worth having! Check out http://tinyurl.com/26okadh and post restaurant reviews!


  19. Oh wow. The line that got me was the last one: “Serve as desired.” After reading that post my “as desired” was “right now” :o)


  20. These look absolutely wonderful. I am new to the food blog world and my woderful hubby is helping me create my site…he too is a great cook…maybe your husband will inspire him to do more than just web work with me.


  21. I laughed right out loud when I saw your reference to search engines :o Andrew (To Love, Honor, and Dismay)


  22. These are completely life altering! Got a new iron for Xmas and this is without a doubt the most incredible waffle I have had in my LIFE. Thanks for sharing!


  23. How many waffles does your recipe make?


  24. I really loved your blog site and I hope to one day have one as good! What I really loved, was I was looking for a Shrimp n grits recipe then found your whole blog and the waffles won me over! Way to go! May I suggest a recipe for chicken noodle soup? I noticed a dutch recipe in there which is the most “oogley” one of all! If you’d like a recipe for the cabbage brattin let me know. :D


  25. my husband only cooks spagetti :)


  26. [...] recipes all that closely, but it sure seems that the JoC version uses a lot of butter (12 T!). So this recipe seems healthy in comparison. (Also, this recipe seems to use half the flour, so presumably this [...]


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