True Belgian Waffles

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When my Belgian grandma–bonne maman–made waffles, drafts of warm air would billow out of the kitchen, filling the house with a delicious smell. As she delivered happiness to her family one mouthwatering waffle at a time, she would beam with love and a pride in her mastery of waffle making. While leading Backroads Holland and Belgium biking trips this past summer, I encountered this familiar sweet scent in the Belgian city of Bruges. It instantly kicked my senses into a frenzy, renewing my love of waffles. Bruges, Belgium, cobblestone street and horse carriageBruges, an enchanting mix of medieval and modern scenery, was once the heart of European commerce. The cobblestone streets, quaint brick buildings, tall church spires and flowing canals lend a surreal ambiance. With horse carriages rolling through narrow alleys, hooves clacking rhythmically, it’s easy to see why visitors are attracted to this well-preserved gem. And Bruges offers all of the usual Belgian delicacies: pommes frites (French fries), chocolate, beer and plenty of waffles.

Belgian waffles have a distinct connection to the city or town in which they were developed, and many families and regions guard their recipes as precious secrets.

While Bruges doesn’t claim its own type of waffle, the diversity of this dish is an ode to this petite nation’s creativity. All Belgian waffles are cooked in a hot griddle with a grid pattern, and sometimes the only distinction between types of waffles is the number of squares pressed into the treat. And while waffles may be more of a breakfast dish in the United States, in Belgium they’re typically eaten as a snack or dessert. A seemingly endless assortment of toppings enhance the experience: strawberries, whipped cream, Nutella, powdered sugar, butter, ice cream, bananas, chocolate… the choice is yours!

Belgian waffle bakery in Bruges, Belgium

Brussels waffles in the center row & Liège waffles below

The two main types of Belgian waffles are: Brussels waffles: Crispy on the outside, amazingly soft on the inside, the Brussels waffle is what most Americans picture when they think of Belgian waffles. Their fluffier texture comes from using leavened batter and larger, deeper squares. These rectangular treats are most commonly dotted with either 15 or 24 square pockets. Liege Waffle in Bruges, BelgiumLiège waffles: These delicious and extremely popular waffles hail from eastern Belgium. Made with a thicker brioche batter that includes pearl sugar, Liège waffles have a rich and crispy caramelized sugar coating. Their distinctly rounded corners typically surround a 3-by-4 square pattern. Once the lingering scent of real Belgian waffles pulls you in, be prepared to sit back and indulge in tasty ride. Waffles can be found on nearly every street corner in Bruges and, paired with the exquisite scenery, can make your visit to Belgium a feast for the senses. Bruges, Belgium canal and medieval belfry


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Trevor Husted

Trevor Husted

Trip Leader at Backroads
Trevor has always been a traveler. A dual-citizen of the US and Belgium, he grew up in a bilingual household in Seattle and made frequent trips to Europe with his family. It was the Pacific Northwest landscape that shaped his respect for nature at an early age, and working at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camps after college that ignited his zeal for helping others. A self-proclaimed thrill-seeker, nomad, teacher, troubadour and wandering jester, Trevor is constantly on the move with leading Backroads biking trips in the summer and seeking high-elevation snow around his Lake Tahoe home in the winter. He’s also currently earning a master’s degree in education. Above all, Trevor’s true passion is to instill a love for adventure, nature, culture and caring in others.
Trevor Husted

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