The differences between the Liege and Brussels waffles
Just like the French don’t call their bread a French baguette, the Belgium people don’t say Belgium waffles — just waffles, or more specifically the Liège and the Brussels waffles.
“What? No way! Everyone in the world calls them Belgian waffles!” You’re probably exclaiming and gesticulating to the waffles’ Gods.
My family and I are traveling to six European countries this month. Last week, we visited both Bruges and Ghent, which look like storybook cities with decorative and colorful rows of homes that dot the streets of these Belgian towns, where Dutch and Flemish languages are the main languages spoken.
We explored the architecture, history, churches, and their canals till our feet hurt from walking and the excitement that the cities had to offer. Instead of dinner, we opted for the famous Belgian waffles, as we called them.
We had no idea that there are two distinct types of Belgian waffles, or that nobody in Belgium called them Belgium waffles. To them, there were either Liege or Brussels waffles.
The Belgian Waffles history
Dating back to the 14th century, Belgian waffles became popular in the United States when Walter Cleyman introduced them at the Century 21 exposition, also known as the Seattle World’s Fair. Due to its soft texture, Cleyman sold over half a million waffles. His original dough consisted of flour, eggs, salt, milk, butter, and vanilla crystals, which nowadays is replaced by brown sugar.
The Liège waffle is nothing like either version of the Brussels. It originates from the city of Liège in the Wallonia region of Belgium and is made with a dough similar to that of brioche.
“When preparing a Liège waffle, it starts out with yeast, but depending on the recipe you are making it could take up to twelve hours before the batter is ready to be used. The yeast in a Liège waffle goes through a respiration period and is sometimes chilled overnight before the pearl sugar is added. As the waffle is cooked on the iron, the pearls melt and caramelize forming big bites of crisp, browned sugar,” according to The Difference between Liège and Brussels Waffles — The Waffle Wizards.
Our daughter thought the caramelized edges of the waffle looked like chocolate, but we assured her that it was just the sugar dripping into our mouths and making the world a nicer place to be.
Even though the Liège waffle is a denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle, we relished every bite of our first authentic waffle topped with dark chocolate, strawberries, and ice cream. We chose to buy from a small waffle street shop whose sweet aromas spilled onto the streets and languished inside the nostrils of locals and visitors.
With every bite that I took of my oval-shaped Liège waffle, the airiness of the waffle reminded me of summer clouds drifting in the sky.
Although the waffles are predominately eaten with your hands and nothing else, since Belgians prefer not to mask the sweet flavor and beloved texture of the waffle with toppings, we sat down on the steps of the church right in front of the waffle shop and ate them with our forks, since they were topped with fresh strawberries and ice cream.
As opposed to the Liège waffles, according to thewafflewizardswebsite, Brussels waffles start out like most yeast recipes, but end with folding egg whites into the mixture before letting it rise. This makes for a foamy batter when spooned onto the waffle iron. An authentic Brussels waffle iron will have larger squares and deeper pockets.
Moreover, a yeast waffle is thicker than a baking soda waffle and does not soak up syrup like a sponge.
“When bought on the streets in Belgium, it usually comes with sweet cream, fruit, or dusted with confectioner sugar. They are eaten anytime of the day, not just for breakfast or brunch.”
Once I learned the differences between the two famous waffles, I opted for the less sugary one: the Brussels waffle. I even bought a pack of six waffles from the local supermarket and relished them in the morning for breakfast straight out of their package.
And now that you also know better not to call them Belgian waffles, I think you will agree that life is sweeter and better with either the Liege or the Brussels waffles.
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