Food Friday: “The Taste of Belgium”

Today’s recipe comes from Grub Street Publishing‘s The Taste of Belgium! And what food is more synonymous with “Belgian” than a waffle? Enhance your mornings this weekend with the fantastic, truly Belgian waffle recipe you’ll find in this article.

About the book:
97819098081882015 Gourmand Award Winner: Best Foreign-International Cuisine
First published in 1996 (and selling over 50,000 copies) but out of print for many years, now back by popular demand is Ruth Van Waerebeek‘s wonderful compendium of Belgian recipes. Belgium is a country that boasts more three-star restaurants per capita than any other nation  ̶  including France.
It’s a country where home cooks ̶ and everyone, it seems, is a great home cook ̶ spend copious amounts of time thinking about, shopping for, preparing, discussing, and celebrating food. With its hearty influences from Germany and Holland, herbs straight out of a Medieval garden, and condiments and spices from the height of Flemish culture, Belgian cuisine is elegant comfort food at its best ̶ slow-cooked, honest and comforting. It’s the Sunday meal and a continental dinner party, family picnics and that antidote to a winter’s day.
In 250 delicious recipes, here is the best of Belgian cuisine. Veal Stew with Dumplings, Mushrooms, and Carrots, Smoked Trout Mousse with Watercress Sauce, Braised Partridge with Cabbage and Abbey Beer, Gratin of Belgian Endives, Flemish Carrot Soup, Steak-Frites, Steamed Mussels, and desserts, some using the best chocolate on earth: Belgian Chocolate Ganache Tart, Almond Cake with Fresh Fruit Topping and Little Chocolate Nut Cakes.
As the Belgians say, since everybody has to eat three times a day, why not make a feast of every meal?

Make a feast of your breakfasts this weekend with this recipe: My Mother’s Waffles. One of the great things about this particular cookbook is the anecdotes you get above each recipe. Some are short, some are long; some suggest how to serve the dish, or other foods you can serve it with; some explain the significance of the dish in Belgian culture, or explain the name of the dish itself. They all add an extra layer to the recipes that make this more than just your average recipe book. The anecdote for My Mother’s Waffles is this:

All through Flanders, one can find hundreds of waffle recipes. Most of our waffles are yeast-raised, creating a lighter, crustier waffle than the baking-powder waffles one usually finds elsewhere. The following is my family recipe, which has come down from mother to daughter for generations and has kept us happy for as long as anyone in my family can remember. They are particularly welcome as the days shorten in the autumn months and the weather gets colder. I invite guests to arrive in the late afternoon, and seduce them with the enticing smells of freshly brewed coffee and baking waffles. No one has ever been able to resist this happy feast. I urge you to adopt this tradition in your own home, and do remember to install your waffle iron on the dining room table so that the baking of the waffles becomes part of the fun.

“It isn’t worth it to get out your waffle iron to bake six or eight waffles,” is my mother’s philosophy, and I agree with her. Here I give you the proportions for a satisfying stack of waffles for a large hungry group. For a smaller amount, simply cut the recipe in half. But remember that the leftover waffles taste even better the next morning for breakfast. Reheat them for one minute in a hot waffle iron or pop them into the toaster. Or freeze them to have instant waffles on hand.

If that doesn’t get you excited about waffles, I don’t know what will! Gather up your family and friends this weekend, and have your own waffle feast with this recipe:

My Mother’s Waffles

Makes about 40 waffles

50g/2 ounces fresh cake yeast or 4 packages active dry yeast
1.5 litres/6  cups milk, warmed to 38 degrees C/100 degrees F
6 large egg yolks
175g/12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
175g/12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) margarine, melted and cooled to lukewarm
225g/1 cup Vanilla Sugar (page 327), or 225g/1 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
900g/8 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
6 large egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
For serving
Icing/confectioner’s sugar
Unsalted butter, at room temperature, or whipped cream
Sliced fresh fruit, such as pineapple, peaches, or strawberries

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 240ml/1 cup of the lukewarm milk. In a large deep mixing bowl (the dough will double or triple in volume), whisk the egg yolks with 120ml/ 1/2 cup of of the remaining milk and the melted butter and margarine. Add the yeast mixture, sugar, and salt.

Gradually add the flour to the batter by sifting it in. Alternate additions of the flour with the remaining milk. Stir with a wooden spoon after each addition.

Fold in the beaten egg whites. Cover with a clean towel and put in a warm place (see Note). Let rise for 1 hour. The batter should double or even triple in volume. (While you wait, you have time to brew the coffee, set the table, and heat up your waffle iron.) Check the batter from time to time to make sure it isn’t about to erupt like an impatient volcano. Stir it down once or twice.

Bake the waffles in a hot waffle iron. The easiest way to get the batter onto the waffle iron is to do what my mother does. Transfer the batter (by batches) into a water pitcher and pour the batter from the pitcher.

Serve the baked waffles with icing/confectioner’s sugar and butter, or whipped cream and fresh fruit. Allow any leftover waffles to cool on a rack before storing.

Variation Add approximately one teaspoon cinnamon to the batter.

Note Traditionally, waffle batter is left next to the big warm stove, which guarantees a slow, even rising. Duplicate these conditions in the following way: Preheat your oven to 110 degrees C/225 degrees F/gas 1/4 for 10 minutes and turn it off. Let the batter rise in the oven with the door closed.

Anecdote and recipe text, and image from The Taste of Belgium pages 260-262

Bonus: on the last page of this waffle recipe, the author included “Waffle Memories,” a short extra anecdote from her childhood. If you’ve been resisting the urge to make this waffles yourself until now, that’ll end after reading this sweet memory:

Waffle Memories.JPG
Image from page 262 of The Taste of Belgium

For even more delicious Belgian recipes and a new perspective on Belgian food and culture, purchase your copy of The Taste of Belgium on our website here.
This book is also available from all major booksellers.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you try it out, send us a picture and we’ll feature it on Instagram.

InstagramFor up-to-the minute updates on new blog posts, new releases, and just fun pictures of books, follow our new Instagram account @casematepub!

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