The modern waffle has its origins in the wafers—very light thin crisp cakes baked between wafer irons—of the Middle Ages. Wafer irons consisted of two metal plates connected by a hinge, with each plate connected to an arm with a wooden handle. The iron was placed over a fire and flipped to cook both sides of the wafer. The irons were used to produce a variety of different flat, unleavened cakes, usually from a mixture of barley and oats, not the white flour used today.
In 14th-century England, wafers were sold by street vendors called waferers. The modern waffle is a leavened form of wafer.
Medieval waffle law
In medieval Europe, vendors were permitted to sell their waffles outside of churches on saints' days and during other special religious celebrations. Competition at the churches eventually became very heated, and at times violent, so that King Charles IX of France imposed a regulation on waffle sales, requiring vendors to maintain a distance of at least deux toises (4 m/12 ft) from one another.
Varieties of waffle
* American waffles are made from a batter leavened with baking powder. They are usually served as a sweet breakfast food, topped with butter and various syrups, but are also found in many different savory dishes, such as fried chicken and waffles or topped with kidney stew.They may also be served as desserts, topped with ice cream and various other toppings. They are generally denser and thinner than the Belgian waffle. Waffles were first introduced to North America in 1620 by Pilgrims who brought the method from Holland. Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron from France, and waffle frolics or parties became popular in the late eighteenth century.
* Belgian waffles, or Brussels waffles, are prepared with a yeast-leavened batter. It is generally, but not always, lighter, thicker, and crispier and has larger pockets compared to other waffle varieties. In Belgium, it is served warm by street vendors, dusted with confectioner's sugar, and sometimes topped with whipped cream or chocolate spread. In America, it is served in the same ways the American waffle is served. Belgian waffles were introduced to America by restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, who sold his Brussels waffles under the name "Bel-Gem Waffles" at New York's 1964 World's Fair.
* The Liège waffle (from the city of Liège, in eastern Belgium) is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Invented by the chef of the prince-bishop of Liège in the 18th century as an adaptation of brioche bread dough, it features chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelizes on the outside of the waffle when baked. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and is prepared in plain, vanilla and cinnamon varieties by street vendors across the nation.
* Hong Kong style waffle, in Hong Kong called a "grid cake" or "grid biscuits" (格仔餅), is a waffle usually made and sold by street hawkers and eaten warm on the street. It is similar to a traditional waffle but larger, round in shape and divided into four quarters. It is usually served as a snack. Butter, peanut butter and sugar are spread on one side of the cooked waffle, and then it is folded into a semicircle to eat. Eggs, sugar and evaporated milk are used in the waffle recipes, giving them a sweet flavor. They are generally soft and not dense. Traditional Hong Kong style waffles are full of the flavor of yolk. Sometimes different flavors, such as chocolate and honey melon, are used in the recipe and create various colors.
* Scandinavian style waffles, common throughout the Nordic countries especially Sweden, are thin, made in a heart-shaped waffle iron. The batter is similar to other varieties. The most common style are sweet, with whipped or sour cream and strawberry or raspberry jam, or berries, or simply sugar, on top. In Norway, brown cheese is also a popular topping. As with crèpes, there are those who prefer a salted style with various mixes, such as blue cheese. In Finland, savory toppings are uncommon; instead jam, sugar, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream are usually used. The Swedish tradition dates at least to the 1400s, and there is even a particular day for the purpose, Vårfrudagen ("Our Lady's Day"), which sounds like Våffeldagen (waffle day), and is therefore used for the purpose. This is March 25 (nine months before Christmas), the Christian holiday of Annunciation.
* Stroopwafels (Dutch: syrup waffles) are thin waffles with a syrup filling. They were first made in Gouda in the Netherlands during the 18th or 19th century. The stiff batter for the waffles is made from flour, butter, brown sugar, yeast, milk, and eggs. Medium-sized balls of batter are put on the waffle iron. When the waffle is baked and while it is still warm, it is cut into two halves. The warm filling, made from syrup, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon, i