Brusselse Wafels: Dacher’s and Consael’s Recipes
The more I dig into the history of the Brussel’s waffle, the more suspicious I get of the backstory. Though I’ve mentioned it here in posts recently, here’s the popular account: Max Consael claimed to have invented them in 1839, though didn’t sell them until 1856, while Florian Dacher had a verifiable recipe by 1843. One man was from Ghent (working in Brussels), while the other was a Swiss national working in Ghent. Despite the fact that neither man was from Brussels, they both “invented” nearly identical recipes (below) that they coined as Brusselse Wafels.
Dacher’s “1839” Recipe as Penned by Cauderlier in 1874
4 eggs separated (with the whites whipped)
Pinch of cinnamon
Consael’s “1843” Recipe as Penned by Jan Gheysens in 2006
25g of fresh yeast
So basically Dacher whipped his egg whites, yet omitted the yeast, and Consael employed yeast, yet didn’t whip his egg whites. The fact that the recipes are otherwise perfectly identical is absurd. One of them absolutely stole the recipe from the other, but even the first of them stole it from a larger tradition that had years before crossed the Atlantic. Here’s the 1831 [metric equivalent] recipe from Mackenzie’s Five Thousand Receipts, a dual American-British cookbook.
1qt (slightly less than 1L) milk
1 spoonful of [ale] east
Bake that, and you get a Brussels waffle that will merely taste slightly more eggy. The flour to butter to liquid ratio is otherwise near-identical to what Dacher and Consael were using. Even the total weight of the batter prepared would be, at most, 50g off from the weight of Dacher’s and essentially identical to Consael’s. Coincidence? No. They were clearly feeding off an established recipe.
The more I dig, the more likely I am to find variants of the same recipe/proportions from earlier times. Given the waffle tradition in the U.S., dating back to 17th century Dutch settlers, I’m inclined to think the ratios were simply common for the Dutch — who were unfortunately not too prolific in recording recipes in cookbooks. Dacher and Consael simply popularized a recipe that had long been around. Though perhaps we can throw Dacher a bone and say that he was a little original in using egg white leavening only — even if whipped eggs whites had been used in Flemish/Belgian recipes for 100 years (together with yeast).