14 Jul Bringing Waffles Back: The Lineage of the Liege
Belgian Liege Waffle History
Americans have always thought of Belgium as the home to their favorite breakfast food, the Belgian waffle. But the waffle most Americans eat bears no resemblance to Belgium’s true treasure. Read on to discover the true history of the Belgian liege waffle.
A Brief Waffle History
The basic waffle came into being in Europe in the 15th century, having evolved from its predecessor, oublies. Oublies were extremely simple cakes created in the 9th – 10th centuries. They were composed mainly of flour and water, pressed between two engraved irons, and then cooked over a fire (you can find a recipe for oublies here: http://murielsbakingpassion.com/oublie/). Eventually, more leavening, eggs, and sugar were added to this bare-bones recipe, creating the first generation of modern-day waffles.
Introduction of the Belgian Waffle
Today in the United States, the most widely known waffle is the Belgian waffle (though it’s original name was the “Brussels Waffle”, made with baking powder, flour, oil, sugar, milk… it’s basically a glorified pancake. Where did this waffle come from, you might ask? The answer’s not Belgium, but instead the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.
In 1964, the Belgian Vermersch family introduced New York to the Brussels waffle (The Original Belgian Waffle), and the waffle skyrocketed in popularity. The Vermersch family took advantage of the fast paced city life and the trendy New Yorkers, making delicious Brussels waffles with the traditional whipped cream and strawberry topping. Being the savvy business people that they were, the Vermersch family renamed the traditional Brussels waffle the “Belgian” waffle, realizing that not many Americans would know where Brussels was on the globe.
The Rise and Demise of Waffle Yeast
Though unknown, it was likely shortly thereafter that the next great innovation in waffle history made its American debut. It was the additional step of a yeast-leavened batter which when cooked to perfection created a waffle as light as air with a crisp exterior.
What happened to this wonderful creation? Consumers loved the waffle and wanted to make them in their own homes. Unfortunately, the recipe evolved (or devolved) over time to become a simple, easy-to-make breakfast item. Then of course, major grocery names invented completely flat and artificially colored and flavored versions of this waffle.
The yeast was replaced with baking powder, and the batter recipe slowly evolved over time to become that of like a frozen flavorless pancake. Bummer, right? Well… maybe there is one saving grace in all of this.
Waffle Perfection – The Belgian Liege Waffle
Belgium still has one more treat for America: the Liege waffle. This waffle is nothing like the Belgian waffle we know today, and it’s also a far cry from the original Brussels waffle. The Liege waffle is made from a yeasty, Brioche-style dough that is risen twice and mixed with Belgian pearl sugar that caramelizes once on the waffle iron. The end result? A delicious, dense, slightly-sweet waffle with caramelized sugar throughout that is the go-to street food in Belgium for centuries. Where is it today? Right here!
Waffatopia’s founders, Brian and Andrea Polizzi discovered the deliciousness of the Liege waffle while touring Belgium and knew that they had to try making it in their own kitchen. After years of fine tuning the recipe, they present their product to you, their loyal Waffatopians, as they share the beauty that is the pure, unadulterated Liege style waffle. Enjoy!