Goose Eggs: Traditional Eggs for Waffles
People take for granted that chicken eggs [above right] are what’s always been used in waffles. In reality, the most common egg used was simply whatever was most available, at a given time in a particular locale. Chicken eggs, duck eggs, and goose eggs [above left] were all quite popular throughout medieval Europe and, at least where waffles were concerned, were used interchangeably.
One of the oldest known images we have of waffles being made comes from Pieter Bruegel’s 1559 masterpiece, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent. In it, we see a woman using what are unmistakably goose eggs in her waffle batter.
So do goose eggs make for a better waffle? In my experience, I’d say they make for a slightly darker and fattier end product — and, yes, arguably a bit more authentic. The taste difference between goose eggs and chicken eggs, within waffle batter, is almost imperceptible. And given that all of my recipes here are careful calibrations of fat, moisture, sugar, and protein content, if I were to use goose eggs regularly, I’d simply modify the recipes to account for their higher fat and protein contents, so that the baked piece had nearly the same textural properties as one done with chicken eggs. At the end of the day, there’s no great reason to use goose eggs on a regular basis.
That said, when I decide to attempt Groote Wafelen(the oldest known true waffle recipe) — from the Belgian Een Antwerps kookboek— you can be sure I’ll be cooking with goose eggs…
“Nemt witte blomme, werm room ende versche gesmolten boter, gist, ende dat tsamen gemengelt tot dat de blomme verdreven is, doeter dan in tien of twelf doyeren van eyers. Diese ze niet zoo costelic maecken en wilt, die doet het wit mede ende alleene met melk, ende laetse zoo becomen by de viere drie oft vier uren eer men se bact om dates beter hem verheffen zouden.” Take white flour, warm cream, fresh melted butter, yeast, and mix together until the flour is no longer visible. Then add ten or twelve egg yolks. Those who do not want them to be too expensive may also add the egg white and just milk. Put the resulting dough at the fireplace for four hours to let it rise better before baking it.