Authentic Liege Waffles for the Belgian Saints

Belgium is famous for its waffles. So if you are looking at celebrating a feast with a Belgian connection, look no further than the glorious waffle. I have some family members who are currently very excited about waffles and wanting real Belgian style. I did some research and found that there are two primary distinct styles of waffles in Belgium and both are different from the Americanized version most of us are familiar with. Even the name "Belgian waffle" came from the 1964 Worlds Fair in New York. There is the gaufres de Liege (Liege waffle) and the gaufres de Bruxelles (Brussels waffle) - gaufres is French, wafel is Dutch. Some history of the Belgian waffles can be found here, here and here.

Both are distinguished from the Americanized version by a yeast batter with a delicious amount of butter. Liege waffles are made with a thick, sticky batter with added vanilla and large sugar crystals called pearl sugar. When the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt and caramelize on the surface, contributing to a crunchy sweetness. They also have uneven edges. These are the common waffles sold by street vendors in Belgium. Brussels waffles were made with a thinner batter which makes them lighter and crisper with smooth edges. These are closer to the American version.

So I splurged on a new Belgian waffle maker and some pearl sugar with Christmas money we got and put it to work to recognize the feast of Our Lady of Banneux, January 15. This commemorates the apparitions of Mary to a young girl, Mariette Beco, between January 15 and March 2, 1933 in the town of Banneux, which happens to be in the province of Liege in Belgium. It was very similar to a series of apparitions to five young children in nearby Beauraing from November 1932 to January 1933. Both were investigated and approved by the Church in 1949.

So if you are interested in celebrated Belgian saints with Belgian waffles here are a few of the more well known options:

Our Lady of Banneux - apparition, January 15
St. Colette - March 6
St. Juliana of Leige - April 6
St. Damien of Molokai - May 10
St. John Berchmans - August 13
St. Arnold of Soissons - August 14
Our Lady of Beauraing - apparition, August 22
St. Hubert - November 3

And there are the connections of waffles to celebrating the feast of the Annunciation in Sweden as mentioned in these past posts - Our Lady Feasting and Annunciation Waffles. And in my online reading I am finding was common to sell waffles as treats on the streets after Mass for feast days throughout parts of Europe. Another common feast day for this is mentioned in this past post - St. Michael's Waffles

Celebrate with waffles!

Liege Sugar Waffles

1 package yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup butter (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Belgian pearl sugar

Mix yeast, granulated sugar, salt and water. Let stand 15 minutes for yeast to activate. In mixing bowl mound the flour and make well in middle. Pour yeast mixture into well and mix, adding eggs and melted butter. Mix until blended. Batter will be thick and sticky. Cover dough and let rise in warm spot 30-60 minutes to double. After rising add half cup of pearl sugar and mix in.

Spoon onto hot, greased waffle iron. Cook until golden - time depending on temperature and temperament of your particular waffle iron.

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  1. Very interesting, Mary! I have a waffle iron that makes a thinner waffle. I am assuming that's not the right kind. I used to have the kind that makes the deep indentations and when it died I replaced it with the one I have now (I thought the waffles would be just slightly less fattening if they were a little thinner -- ha!).

  2. I had no idea about some of these and am going to enjoy looking them up today and learning along with my children. We actually had Belgium waffles this morning, so this was fun to find out.

  3. These look delicious. They remind me of my time in France when my host family used to make gauffres each afternoon and roll them up with jam while hot. Best waffles, ever!

  4. Super cool! I hope to come back to this for the feast of St Damien in May....or would be glad to accept an invitation to see the author's new waffle iron :-)