At The Original Pancake House we may pride ourselves on our namesake breakfast item, but we love the waffle just as much. We proudly feature the Belgian waffle, known for its crispy, deep pockets, in a number of delicious varieties. Like many of our beloved culinary treats, the American love affair with this dish started centuries ago in Europe.
From its humble beginnings as a cake of ground grains cooked on top of hot rocks, the waffle has evolved over time to become the breakfast staple we know and love today. The earliest known written recipe is in an anonymous manuscript called Le Ménagier de Paris. It was a set of instructions written by a Frenchman for his young wife. The author describes his personal waffle recipe and mentions an iron, leading historians to believe waffle irons were invented in the 13th-14th century. The word itself was first printed in English in 1725 and is descended from the Dutch word for “wafer.” The waffle had already changed format multiple times by then and it was later introduced to the Pilgrims by the Dutch while spending time in Holland before setting sail for America. In 1789 Thomas Jefferson returned to America from France, bringing with him a waffle iron and started a trend.
While waffles are mainly known as a breakfast item in America, there are also enjoyed as street food in Europe. What we know as the “Belgian waffle” is actually one of two primary types from this country. It is typically served with syrup and butter, or whipped cream and fruit. The Liege waffle, named after the city, is made with a rich yeast dough that is studded with chunks of pearl sugar that melt and caramelize on the iron while it cooks. These are not as common in America, but are enjoyed from street vendors throughout Belgium.