A waffle is a dessert made from leavened dough, that is cooked between two plates that are patterned to give a characteristic size, shape and surface impression. There are many variations based on the type of waffle iron and recipe used. Waffles are eaten throughout the world, particularly in Belgium, which has over a dozen regional varieties. Waffles may be made fresh or simply heated after having been commercially precooked and frozen. In America, the waffle serves a similar function to the pancake.
It is directly derived from the Dutch wafel, which itself derives from the Middle Dutch wafele.
Waffles remained widely popular in Europe for the first half of the 19th century, despite the 1806 British Atlantic naval blockade that greatly inflated the price of sugar. This coincided with the commercial production of beet sugar in continental Europe, which, in a matter of decades, had brought the price down to historical lows. Within the transitional period from cane to beet sugar, Florian Dacher formalized a recipe for the Brussels Waffle, the predecessor to American “Belgian” waffles, recording the recipe in 1842/43. Stroopwafels (Dutch syrup wafels), too, rose to prominence in the Netherlands by the middle of the century However, by the second half of the 1800s, inexpensive beet sugar became widely available, and a wide range of pastries, candies and chocolates were now accessible to the middle class, as never before; waffles’ popularity declined rapidly. By the early 20th century, waffle recipes became rare in recipe books, and only 29 professional waffle craftsmen, the oublieurs, remained in Paris. Waffles were shifting from a predominately street-vendor-based product to an increasingly homemade product, aided by the 1918 introduction of GE’s first electric commercial waffle maker. By the mid-1930s, dry pancake/waffle mix had been marketed by a number of companies, including Aunt Jemima, Bisquick, and a team of three brothers from San Jose, Calif. – the Dorsas. It is the Dorsas who would go on to innovate commercial production of frozen waffles, which they began selling under the name “Eggo” in 1953. Belgian-style waffles were showcased at Expo 58 in Brussels. Another Belgian introduced Belgian-style waffles to the United States at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, but only really took hold at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, when another Belgian entrepreneur introduced his “Bel-Gem” waffles. In practice, contemporary American “Belgian waffles” are actually a hybrid of pre-existing American waffle types and ingredients and some attributes of the Belgian model.
In the 21st century, waffles continue to evolve. What began as flour and water heated between two iron plates are now popular the world over, produced in sweet and savory varieties, in myriad shapes and sizes. Even as most of the original recipes have faded from use, a number of the 18th and 19th century varieties can still be easily found throughout Northern Europe, where they were first developed.
A common waffle recipe according my patisserie coach is listed as follows:
1 ¾ cups of milk, 2 eggs, ½ cup of oil, 2 cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking soda, 4 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp salt, ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
Each ingredient contributes to waffle texture and quality.
An appliance called a waffle iron is used to cook waffles to the optimal golden brown coloring and crispness. The iron consists of a plate with checker pattern divots that serve to hold the waffle batter when it is poured and create the waffle’s unique shape. Some waffle irons can prepare more than one waffle in the form of a double waffle maker that can be swiveled by hand 180 degrees. The stand sits on a supportive base
Brussels waffles are prepared with an egg-white-leavened or yeast-leavened batter, traditionally ale yeast; occasionally both types of leavening are used together. They are lighter, crisper and have larger pockets compared to other European waffle varieties, and are easy to differentiate from Liège Waffles by their rectangular sides. In Belgium, most waffles are served warm by street vendors and dusted with confectioner’s sugar, though in tourist areas they might be topped with whipped cream, soft fruit or chocolate spread. Variants of the Brussels waffles – with whipped and folded egg whites cooked in large rectangular forms – date from the 18th century.
Toppings: butter, choco chips, apple butter, dulce de leche
Fruits: bananas, blueberries, boysenberries strawberries, raspberries, blackberries etc., honey, jam or jellies, powdered sugar, chocolate spread,
Syrups: maple, chocolate, caramel flavored, whipped cream