Neither do I, but I learned the term “super lekker” from my cousin’s four year old daughter when I was visiting them in Belgium last month.
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“Super lekker” translates to “super tasty” in English, and that’s exactly how to describe these Belgian waffles!
First of all, if you’re like me, you probably think these are sort of like our American breakfast waffles, right? Well, I was so far off base on this: you can’t imagine what a difference there is between the two, so let me explain the differences.
- Belgian waffles are not made with a batter, but a yeast dough.
- Belgian waffles have a completely different texture than American waffles.
- Instead of eating them with a knife and fork, Belgian waffles are usually eaten handheld.
- Belgian waffles are not solely for breakfast and are often eaten without a topping or sauce.
- One of the biggest differences is that Belgian waffles have pieces of caramelized pearl sugar in them!
It’s not a surprise that as Americans, we are so misled as there are a lot of “Belgian Waffle” recipes out there which do not resemble anything like the real thing. Even a very prominent and popular flour company has a recipe for “Belgian Waffles” on their site, which is made with a batter! Tsk, tsk. But now you know the difference and the recipe I will be sharing with you is for the real thing: an authentic, traditional Belgian waffle (there are different types of Belgian waffles, too–this recipe is for the Liege style).
When I went to Bruges last month which was my next stop after leaving London on my culinary tour of Europe, I saw waffles everywhere! Here are a few shots from my day in Bruges (you can skip to the bottom for the waffle recipe). We went to the chocolate museum, although it’s interesting, I’d say you could skip it and check out more of Bruges if you’re short on time. (There’s also a french fry museum!) However, a boat cruise on the canals is a must as you see many more sights, and from a unique perspective.
We had pastries from a fabulous patisserie called Patisserie Academie. I will be posting about this lovely patisserie in more depth later, with another recipe (if I can manage to recreate the amazing dessert)!
And what trip to Belgium would be complete without having some fries…
But most of all, we cannot forget about the WAFFLES!
Authentic (Liege) Belgian Waffles
adapted from Piet Huysentruyt Nieuws
Makes 10 waffles
*unfortunately, I cannot add the amounts in cups as the exact measurements are critical to this recipe
I strongly recommend buying a kitchen scale for all baking
- 300 g flour plus 200 g flour
- 80 g sugar
- 2 tsp dry yeast
- 150 ml water
- 2 eggs
- 15 g butter (room temperature) plus
- 175 g butter, cut into pieces (then allow to sit at room temperature)
- 140 g Belgian Pearl Sugar* (found at specialty stores or Amazon)
Place 300 grams flour plus the 80 grams of regular sugar in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
Warm the water until it is lukewarm (not at all hot) then add the yeast (do not add the yeast when the water is too hot or it will kill it and the recipe will be ruined) and whisk until it has melted.
Add the eggs and 15 g of butter to the flour and sugar mixture in the mixing bowl, then pour in the water and yeast mixture, whisking to combine all the ingredients.
Continue stirring until a sticky dough is formed.
With your hands, incorporate the butter and flour into the sticky dough until all the ingredients are well combined and the dough is no longer sticky (only add a little more flour if necessary).
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press into a 12″ x 12″ square shape, then sprinkle with the Belgian Pearl sugar (*the original recipe lists 300 grams of sugar, but I found this to be much too much-add more or less to your liking).
Now roll the dough from one end to the other, to form a large sausage shape.
Cut into 100 gram pieces and form into ball shapes and set aside to rest for 15 minutes, covered with a slightly damp kitchen cloth.
NOTE: You can cook them in the waffle iron now, however, I discovered that keeping the dough pieces in the fridge overnight, then bringing them to room temperature and then cooking them worked marvelously! It seemed that the waffles were getting overcooked and dry before the sugar caramelized, no matter what the level of heat was, with the fresh dough. When the sugar is wrapped in the dough and refrigerated, the moisture goes into the sugar so it caramelizes perfectly when it goes into the iron!
Heat the waffle iron. This is the tricky part as all irons are different. I have a Waring Pro, now discontinued, and heated mine to the number 2 setting. The goal is to cook the waffle without making it too dry and overcooked, but caramelizing the sugar pieces at the same time. Play with the settings until you reach a result that you like. This is how the sugar looks once it’s caramelized.
Place a ball of dough in the middle of the iron and cook it until it’s golden brown (I cooked mine at the number 2 setting for 4 minutes) and the sugar has caramelized. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look pretty.
Carefully remove the waffle as the caramelized sugar will definitely give you a nasty burn (I used a small flat wooden utensil, but wooden tongs would also work).
Serve as is, with a dusting of powdered sugar or melted chocolate (traditional serving ideas). These can be eaten the next day; just warm them a little first, or even put them in the toaster.
Remember, don’t expect these to taste like, or have the same texture as American waffles. They are so delicious, but are difficult to describe as they are so different than what we are used to. This is what the inside looks like: not light and fluffy, but more dense and substantial. So the next time you see Belgian waffles being served and they are American waffles, you’ll know better. Spread the word!
Next stop on my culinary tour? Geneva, Switzerland!
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