Liege waffles are like not like those waffles you had for breakfast over the weekend. Though they are made on the same iron as those waffles, liege waffles are unique in both flavor and texture.
Unlike your soft and fluffy breakfast waffle batter, liege waffles are made with a brioche dough that is studded with pearl sugar. The brioche dough imparts a denser texture with a buttery richness to it, while an overnight rise gives the waffles a deeper flavor with a slight tang, and the pearl sugar lends pockets of molten sweetness and the liege waffle’s trademark crunchy, caramelized exterior.
These waffles are generally made using a belgian waffle iron, however since I don’t own a belgian-style waffle maker, I had to use my regular waffle iron. The waffles came out beautifully, with the one caveat of being thinner than the traditional liege waffle. Additionally, I had to make sure to flatten the dough before placing it into the waffle iron to ensure that it baked all the way through.
Either way, your waffle iron’s “ready” alert will be useless in this case. These waffles will splatter and steam throughout their baking process as the sugars melt, caramelize, and re-melt, and re-caramelize over and over again. Your waffle iron will be a complete mess, but don’t fret. Just keep going and each waffle will be even better than the last as the melted sugars build up on the iron and impart a deeper, more caramelized flavor onto each subsequent waffle. (See my notes on how to clean up this horrible mess at the bottom of the recipe.)
Because these implore the use of a bread dough and have a crunchy exterior, these waffles yield the best flavor and texture when enjoyed warm…especially when paired with fresh sweet berries, a drizzle of nutella, and sweet whipped cream. That being said, we enjoyed them at all temperatures both with and without toppings, as breakfast, dessert, and a mid-day snack.
- 1/2 cup whole mlk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups [http://amzn.to/1RfuQyc Belgian pearl sugar]
Make the dough:
- Warm milk and water together until warm to the touch (between 110 and 116F degrees)
- Pour milk mixture into the bottom of a large stand mixer bowl fitted with a dough hook.
- Add sugar and yeast and stir to combine.
- Let rest until the yeast activates, about 5 minutes. You will know the yeast is activated when it looks foamy.
- Whisk eggs and vanilla into the milk/yeast mixture until combined.
- Stir in 2 2/3 cups flour, reserving extra 1 cup of flour for later use.
- Turn mixer on low and stir until combined, add the salt and continue mixing until the mixture forms a dough.
- With the mixer on low, add the butter to the dough 1 tablespoon at a time, thoroughly kneading after each addition to ensure the butter is incorporated. Repeat this process until all of the butter has been added, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- After all the butter has been worked into the dough, add the remaining 1 cup of flour and knead with dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes, or until glossy.
Rest the dough
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has come to temperature, stir the dough to deflate it and re-cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Knead in the pearl sugar
- Pour the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and flatten slightly. Pour pearl sugar over the dough and knead the dough until the pearl sugar is incorporated. Try not to get mad when the sugar hops out of the dough and onto the counter. If you lose a few pearls, so be it.
Make the waffles
- Heat your waffle iron. I don't ever grease my waffle iron, but if it's normal for you to do so, go for it. **Let me take one second to go on my soap box and ask that you please not spray your waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, as the residue it leaves behind will actually ruin your waffle iron. If you must grease it, please put some oil or butter on a paper towel using silicone-tipped tongs, rub it on your waffle iron. Of course, you are always welcome to ignore my advice.** Moving on...
- Divide your dough ball into 16 pieces and roll those pieces into balls.
- When you're ready to cook the waffle, flatten the ball into a disk about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and place it into your waffle iron. **Note:** If you have a belgian waffle maker, you may not have to flatten it. I flattened mine since my waffle maker inherently makes thinner waffles and learned this technique while making other waffley things.
- Press your waffle iron closed tightly on top of the dough, then release the pressure and allow the waffle to cook as per normal waffle protocol. Ignore your waffle iron's sirens (if it is equipped with such things) and allow the waffle to cook fro 4 to 6 minutes, until it is a deep golden brown. As you get further through your waffle-making some may even end up with blackened caramelized sugar bits. I like to refer to these as flavor crystals.
- Once your waffle is done cooking, carefully remove the waffle (I find a plastic fork to be ideal for this task, as its plastic tines won't harm your waffle iron. Silicone-tipped tongs would also work well.) and place the waffle on a cooling rack. Allow to cool slightly before enjoying. Remember that the waffles are going to be covered in molten sugar and will likely make you say unkind things when the hot molten sugar comes into contact with your precious fingertips or the roof of your mouth.
* You can find belgian pearl sugar on [http://amzn.to/1RfuQyc amazon] or in the baking section of your local Sur la Table.
*I always advise against spraying your waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, as the residue it leaves behind will actually ruin your waffle iron. If you must grease it, please put some oil or butter on a paper towel using silicone-tipped tongs, rub it on your waffle iron.
*To clean my waffle iron, I usually soak a dish towel with water, press it in the iron, and let the steam do its work. I found that in this case, it was actually easier to let the iron cool and use a wooden skewer to gently scrape off the burned-on sugar, which popped off with ease. If yours is giving you a hard time, use a warm, damp rag to gently wash off the hardened on sugar. Don't despair, remember that sugar dissolves in water. So even though it may take some time, it will get clean.
[ Recipe from Smitten Kitchen ]