True Belgian Waffles

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

2 Responses

  1. Peter Creyf

    Trevor,
    I came across your blog of “true Belgian waffles” as I did a search on “Brussels waffles” to help out a lady in need. I then saw the pics of Brussels and also Liège waffles and will say this: the Liège waffles shouldn’t have all these different toppings on them. The people in Brussels who sell these that way, are messing with what the Liège waffle stands for – a pastry not needing any topping. One topping that in my opinion is fine is for instance a chocolate drizzle and that is actually what we do at the waffle cabins. The reason behind this is that even with the chocolate drizzle, you can still hold it straight in a was paper, and eat it as finger food. Put all these different toppings on them such as whipped cream, strawberries, and such and it now becomes a sit-down kind of waffle. In that regard, one should take a Brussels waffle as that one lends itself much better to that.

    I read that you have a ski house in Lake Tahoe area. Unfortunately our waffle cabins haven’t made it up to the West Coast yet, but I’m hoping that that is just a matter of time.

    I am from Belgium; I try to keep things as original as they were and should be to give people a taste of the real thing. Those Liège waffles with all these toppings are not real Belgian waffles anymore in my humble opinion.

    If you are ever interested in getting involved with this, let me know. I’d love to have someone like you get the word out of true Belgian (Liège actually, as we don’t do the Brussels) waffles.

    Cheers, and happy trekking !!

    • Trevor Husted Trevor Husted

      Hey Peter,

      Thanks for the post, great to know! My mom and her family are all from Verviers so we have always been big fans of the Liege waffle because of the proximity.

      Your waffle stand sounds amazing! I would love to help you out in some sort of capacity, feel free to email me trevor_husted@backroads.com. Tahoe is home for me and it could potentially be a great place for a stand. Thanks again for reading and look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

      Trevor

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