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Traditional Belgian Waffles

A traditional Belgian waffle uses yeast as on of its raising agents; it needs an overnight rise for the correct flavors and rise to develop. It does require a little planning ahead, but the benefit for the next morning is that all you need to do is add eggs and a chemical raising agents and cook them in your waffle maker. I do not recommend using a standard waffle maker; to get traditional Belgian waffles you will want a Belgian waffle maker that has very deep pockets to make thick waffles.

Yeast is a raising agent; it is a single-celled organism that converts sugars to carbon dioxide. These bubbles of carbon dioxide give the rise, or leavening, to the baked good in question. Yeast also lends a distinctive flavor to breads and other baked goods; in this recipe, a long rise time allows these bubbles and flavors to develop.

Baking soda is used as the chemical raising agent in this recipe. It reacts with acidic compounds in batters, like buttermilk, also releasing carbon dioxide to form bubbles that create a rise. The longer a batter sits, however, the less effective the reaction between the baking soda and acid will be, which is why we wait until the morning to add the baking soda. Heat creates a secondary rise as well; the heat from cooking causes baking soda to release carbon dioxide bubbles as well.

As a result, these waffles are light, wonderfully flavored, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and begging to be topped with butter and maple syrup or whipped cream and fruit. Enjoy!

1/2 cup warm whole milk, about 105 degrees F
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk at around 100 degrees F
1/2 cup buttermilk at around 100 degrees F
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Extra butter, warm maple syrup, whipped cream, fresh fruit for serving

Combine the milk, yeast and sugar into a large bowl. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves, begins to foam and starts to smell fragrant and yeasty. Add in the remaining whole milk, buttermilk, melted butter, remaining sugar, vanilla and salt. Blend together completely.  Add the flour gradually and whisk the batter until it is smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rest overnight at room temperature.

The next morning, get your Belgian waffle machine preheated. Beat the eggs together with the baking soda. Whisk the egg mixture into the batter until smooth. Brush the iron with nonstick spray or butter and ladle in enough batter to cover the grids of your waffle iron. Cook according to manufacturer’s instructions, until the waffles are golden brown. Keep warm in a 200 degree F oven until your have made all the waffles you can with your batter, and serve with butter, warm maple syrup, or whatever else you desire. 


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