Belgian Waffles

Belgian waffles
Remember the Belgian waffles served at the New York World’s Fair, 1964-1965? Thick, chewy, hot and delicious. Who knew? Waffles could be the perfect dessert!

“The one food delicacy sure to survive the closing, this weekend, of the New York World’s Fair is the Belgian waffle. It is due to join the international roster of staple snacks, along with hot dogs, pizza pies, and ice cream. First the Brussels Fair in 1958, then the Seattle Fair, and two years running of the New Yor Fair have managed to launch this tasty confection in fair fashion. Literally millions of visitors to New York have enjoyed that delectable aroma of waffles crisping to a golden brown in hot ovens. As their defense mechanisms toppled and they chirped, ‘I’ll have one,’ an attendant would decorate that 3 1/2 X 7-inch slab of golden goodness with ribbons of whipped ream pushed through a pastry gun, then splash it generously with squishy strawberries, and hand it over…Most people ate them off a waxed napkin. Those who wanted to be daintier cut them up with a fork…Is the Belgian waffle from Belgium? Of course. That country has been famous for its waffles for generations. Belgians make them at home and serve them with whipped cream or butter, and sometimes with fresh fruit. They like them for afternoon tea or dessert. Waffles have thrived for years as a delicacy at Belgian seaside resorts. The original Belgian waffle, to be commercialized at international fairs is called by the copyrighted name of ‘Bel-Gem Waffle.’ It is made here by B.F.E. Company, Inc., an American offshoot of a Belgian wafflemaking outfit which dates back to 1818. More than 3,000,000 Bel-Gem waffles will have been sold at 99 cents each by this company’s seven concessions by the time the New York World’s Fair closes Oct. 17. The president of this company is hoping not only to sell its World’s Fair wafflemaking equipment but franchises for making them to dealers across the country…This original Belgian waffle has been joined at the fair by many reasonable facsimiles–including Belgium Waffles, Belgische Wafels, and Brussels Waffles. They are fluffy, more than an inch deep, and made over gas heat, which is said to be the most dependable and constant. Once the fair is closed forever, don’t be surprised to see Belgian waffles turning up out your way. Five young businessmen in Chicago, inspired by the World’s Fair success of the Belgian waffle, have already formed a company called Belgian Queen, Inc. The designed their own wafflemaking machine and are having it manufactured here. They had a food company work out their own waffle-mix formula and even their own whipped topping mix. They are now making Belgian Queen waffles available at 75 cents and 80 cents in department stores, amusement parks, motels, state fair, drive-ins, resorts, etc. Being adventurous fellows, they are also experimenting with many kinds of topping, including fresh peaches, berries of all kinds, coconut, pineapple, and chocolate-mocha.”
—“Meet Manhattan: Fans Stick to Belgian Waffles,” Marilyn Hoffman, Christian Science Monitor, October 12, 1865 (p. 8)
[NOTE: Additional NYC World’s Fair Fare here.

Recipes over time:

“To Fry Waffles

For each pound [one English pound, or 454 grams] of Wheat-flour take a pint [about a half a litre] of sweet Milk, a little tin bow, of melted Butted with 3 or 4 Eggs, a spoonful of Yeast well stirred together.”
De Verstandige Kock (The Sensible Cook) [Netherlands, 1683?], Translated and Edited by Peter G. Rose [Syracuse University Press:Syracuse] 1989 (p. 76)[1849]

Put two pints of rich milk into separate pans. Cut up and melt in one of them a quarter of a pound of butter, warming it slightly; then, when it is melted, stir it about, and set it away to cool. Beat eight eggs till very light, and mix them gradually into the other pan of milk, alternately with half a pound of flour. The mix it by degrees the milk that has the butter in it. Lastly, stir in a large table-spoonfull of strong fresh yeast. Cover the pan and set it near the fire to rise. When the batter is quite light, heat your waffle-iron, by putting it among the coals of a clear bright fire; grease the inside with butter tied in a rag, and then put in some batter. Shut the iron closely, and when the waffle is done on one side, turn the iron on the other. Take the cake out by slipping a knife underneath; and then heat and grease the iron for another waffle. Send them to table quite hot, four or six on a plage; having buttered them and strewed over each a mixture of powdered cinnamon, and white sugar. Or you may send the sugar and cinnamon in a little glass bowl.”
Directions for Cookery in its Various Branches, Miss Leslie [Philadelphia, 1849]. (p. 359)

“Wheat Waffles

One quart of flour, and a teaspoonful of salt. One quart of milk, with a tablespoonful of melted butter in it, and mixed with the flour gradually, so as not to have lumps. Three tablespoonfuls of distillery yeast. When raised, two well-beaten eggs. Bake in waffle-irons well oiled with lard each time they are used. Lay one side on coals, and in about two minutes turn the other side to the coals.

“Mrs. B.’s Waffles
One quart of flour, and a teaspoonful of salt. One qurt of sour milk, with two tablespoonfulls of butter melted in it. Five well-beated eggs. A Teaspoonful for more of saleratus [precursor of baking soda], enough to sweeten the milk. Baked in waffle irons. Some like one tea-cup full of sugar added.”
Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book, Catharine E. Beecher [New York, 1858] (p. 96)

“Libby’s Hot Waffles

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine, or salad oil
Directions for assembly follow. From the same book “Packaged frozen waffles are delicious.”
Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Dorothy B. Marsh, editor [1962] (pps. 336-337)

“Gaufres de Bruxelles (Brussels Waffles)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
5 eggs
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
5 tab;espoons melted butter
Mix flour, egg yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla, milk and butter. Whip egg whites quite firm. Gradually incorporate into paste, mix well. Cook in slightly buttered waffle iron. As soon as waffles are done coat with additional powdered sugar. Serve warm. Makes 10-12.”
The Art of Belgian Cooking, Sarah Miles Watts with Rene Colau [Doubleday & Company:Garden City NY] 1971 (p. 183)


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