My husband surprised me one Christmas morning over fifteen years ago with a shiny new Belgian waffle maker and I've been making what I thought were real Belgian waffles ever since - but boy was I ever wrong!.....................
Now don't get me wrong, the waffles I've been making have been quite delicious and my family and friends will attest to this. But several weeks ago I did a bit of research and, much to my surprise, found out that I've been making "pseudo" Belgium waffles - good, but just not the real McCoy! You see, I realized that I've been making regular old waffles and although I prepared them in a Belgian waffle maker, this by no means made them authentic.
You might be asking, what in the world is the difference? The big difference is that true Belgian waffles are made using yeast as a rising agent in contrast to the typical North American version which is prepared with baking powder. The yeast makes an amazing difference, the inside of the waffle has a light, tender, slightly chewy crumb while the outside is delicate and crisp in comparison with a muffin-type texture in the baking powder waffle.
Honestly, once you try these real Belgian waffles, I think you will agree that there is actually no comparison between the two varieties. One of the articles I came across while I was doing my research, from a blog called Kitchen Addiction, gave the perfect illustration; she said that she thought "the difference between quick (baking powder waffles) and yeast waffles to be as significant as the difference between Wonder bread and a good artisinal loaf"! I totally concur with this! Give these delicious waffles a try and I think you'll be hooked!
P.S. "Real" Belgian waffles are not hard to make - even though they use yeast as the leavening agent there is no kneading or anything tricky involved. However, you do need to plan ahead as the batter has to "sit" for an hour for the yeast to work it's magic. You will need a Belgian waffle maker which is deeper than a regular waffle iron.
Classic Belgian Waffles
1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast1 cup very warm water, 110-115 degrees F - I reccomend using a thermometer
¼ cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar, for dusting, if desired
butter and maple syrup, if desired
2. In a large bowl, stir the flour with the salt. Whisk in the yeast mixture, milk, butter, egg yolks and vanilla until smooth.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold them into the batter and let stand for 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 225°. Heat and grease a Belgian waffle iron. Pour 1 ¼ cups of the batter into the iron and cook until the waffles are golden, 3-5 minutes, depending on your waffle maker. Transfer the waffles to the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter. Dust the waffles with powdered sugar or serve with butter and warm syrup. We also love these waffles topped with fresh fruit.