Every Thursday morning a liège waffle food truck parks in front of my office. Every Thursday morning I attempt to resist the heavenly smell emanating from the truck and stick to my yogurt + granola breakfast. Invariably, the yogurt is still in the office fridge come lunchtime. To anyone who can resist the smell of freshly baked waffles – I salute you and your willpower.
Luckily for me, these waffles are easily one of the most popular desserts in Belgium so I had a handy excuse to try my hand at making these at home. Am I using this blog as an excuse to enable my current liege waffle fixation? Absolutely. Am I okay with that? Heck yes.
Straight away I need to say this is not a quick or easy bake. Kneading in the butter takes lots of time and I guarantee somewhere in the process you’ll want to give up and toss all of the butter in at once. Please don’t do this. Instead take the couple minutes in between butter additions to clean up, make some tea, or dive into the latest trending youtube videos.
Once all of the butter is added you may be tempted to think you are home-free. You’re not just yet! To avoid the flour-bomb that is a common occurrence in the DessEarth household remember to add the remaining flour slowly.
The following day when all you want is a waffle ASAP you have to tackle one more conundrum – how the heck do you add a heaping amount of sugar into a small amount of dough without the sugar going everywhere? I tried two different tactics – kneading and rolling. The results of kneading the sugar into the dough looked pretty, but the process was a mess and a lot of the sugar ended up on the counter and not in the waffles.
The rolling process worked much better. Most of the sugar stayed in the dough and less of the sugar stuck to the waffle iron. Pro-tip: when rolling out any type of dough place plastic wrap on the counter, it makes clean up much faster.
Finally, you’ll notice that the sugars look different in the two methods. In the kneading method I used Swedish pearl sugar and in the rolling method I used Belgium pearl sugar. The only difference I found was the size of the sugar pieces and, despite the name, Swedish pearl sugar is the way to go! The Belgium pearl sugar pieces were slightly too big and did not melt completely in the waffles.
The Moment of Truth
I can’t go back to plain old IHOP waffles. Those things are just vehicles for syrup and butter, whereas these wonders have fantastic flavor all by themselves. I am salivating now just thinking of the layers of delectable brioche dough studded with caramelized sugar. These are time intensive to make but absolutely, unequivocally, 100%, how-many-other-ways-can-I-say-these-are-worth-it, worth it.
This recipe is slightly modified from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Shout out to her for doing all of the hard work figuring out how to make these waffles feasible for the home baker.
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp raw sugar, brown sugar, or honey
1 packet active dry yeast
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
14 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup swedish pearl sugar
Dough: Heat milk and water together until lukewarm – between 110 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine with the sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl. The yeast and sugar may clump together – have no fear this is normal. Stir everything together with a fork and set aside. After five minutes most of the clumps should be dissolved and a layer of foam should have formed on the top. If your mix doesn’t look foamy, the milk and water were probably too hot. Start again! It is not worth going through the whole process to follow if you have already killed the yeast.
Add the eggs, vanilla, and slightly less than 3 cups of the flour (does not need to be precise) and combine using a fork or the dough hook of a stand mixture. Add the salt and mix to combine. Add the butter a tablespoon at a time, throughly kneading in each addition with the dough hook and scraping down the bowl as needed. This takes forever – and by forever I mean roughly half an hour. Tedious, yes, but think of this as a time to clean up in between butter additions. The slow process makes for a delicious layered dough, so stick with it. Once all the butter is added, slowly add the remaining flour (to avoid a flour-bomb like the one above) and knead for another five minutes.
Rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for two hours. Once the dough has doubled in size, place in the fridge to chill overnight or for up to 24 hours. Alternatively, you can place the dough in the fridge first and let rise at room temperature for 2 1/2 – 3 hours the next day.
Cook: If using the room temperature then fridge rising method, remove the dough from the fridge roughly half an hour before you would like to cook the waffles. Divide the dough into four sections and roll out each section to the thickness of thin crust pizza. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of pearl sugar on one-half of each section and cover with the remaining half. Crimp the edges so no sugar escapes and fold in half again. Re-roll the dough to the thickness of thick-crust pizza. Cut each section into four pieces (for smaller sized waffles) or two pieces (for I-do-not-mess-around sized waffles). Place one piece in your waffle iron and cook on medium heat for approximately five minutes. Careful – the sugar is hot and sticky! Any leftover waffles can be frozen and re-heated in the microwave for afternoon snacks or guilty-pleasure breakfasts.
The basis of the body max index (BMI) was developed by Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist. To recap – the same country that gave us the most prominently used obesity indicator also gave us waffles stuffed with sugar.