Thursday, October 29, 2009
My Venture into Liege Waffles
Most Americans have heard of Belgian waffles but I suspect that many have never heard of Liege waffles. In reality, Liege waffles are more common in Belgium than Belgian waffles! These waffles became famous in the city of Liege and are very sweet and incredibly fattening. The dough is a modified brioche dough that normally uses yeast as a leavener instead of baking powder. Traditionally, these waffles contain pearl sugar that caramelizes during cooking – producing a wonderfully crisp and sweet waffle. They are a common street food and you normally get them wrapped in paper to make them easier to eat while walking. Trust me – you don't need butter and syrup on these babies!
I love these waffles. This recipe is not particularly authentic but it is pretty good. If you've never had Liege waffles, I think you will fall in love with this recipe. If you HAVE had Liege waffles, you may be somewhat disappointed because this recipe does not quite do them justice.
This recipe is an adaptation of GoodMorningBurger's Liege Waffle Recipe. No matter how much tweaking I did to the recipe, it never came out like the waffles I had in Belgium. I'm convinced that, even if I had a good recipe, I'd never be able to produce a good waffle because I don't have a proper waffle iron to bake them in.
That said, my mother's waffle iron does a reasonably good job. Her waffle iron is OLD. Really old. It's so old, I think it was forged when the Earth was still molten. It's heavy and gets nice and hot – and the temperature of the unit can be regulated. The picture of the waffle at the top was taken at my mother's house when I was still trying to tweak the recipe to make it less fattening. In that version, I reduced the butter content significantly – and they lost a lot of flavor and stuck unmercifully to the grates because of all of the sugar. In addition, without enough fat, they were also particularly blond in color. I guess a copious amount of butter is needed for this recipe. Oh, well. I tried to make it less fattening and it didn't work!
I have a fairly new waffle iron and it sucks. It is SO not worth the money I spent on it. It never gets hot enough and produces really limp and unevenly colored waffles. In fact, I think when I walk, my friction-prone thighs produce more heat than my stupid waffle iron. Trust me – if I ever needed to start a camp fire, the only thing I'd need to do is put a stick between my legs and walk a block in my old corduroys. The waffle on the right was cooked in my new waffle iron. As you can see in the picture, there are places where the sugar never fully melted. Not good. That's what happens when your waffle iron doesn't get hot enough to fully melt the sugar. Do you see how unevenly colored it is? Also not good. My mother's beastly waffle iron produces a better, more consistent product. I guess new is not always better!
Aaaah, Belgium. I think of it every time I make these waffles. My mom and sister love 'em and I think you will too. You can either fly to Belgium and eat some there or you can make this easy recipe. Either way, I hope you won't be disappointed. Enjoy – and happy waffle-making!
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1 package of yeast (1/4 oz)
1/3 cup lukewarm milk (about 105F)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
12 TBSP butter, room temperature
1 cup pearl sugar (added just before cooking)
Add the yeast to the warm milk and allow it to proof for about 7 minutes. The milk will make the yeast clump up. Just whisk it vigorously and it'll be OK.
To a mixing bowl, add the flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt and stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and mix on low speed (using a paddle attachment) just until it is mixed in. Add eggs one at a time, allowing them to become incorporated after each addition. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time until incorporated.
Cover the dough and allow it to rest in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and add the pearl sugar and stir to combine. Cover and allow the dough to rest for about 15 minutes. This final resting time allows the gluten in the dough to relax some before you have to spread it out in your waffle iron.
Heat your waffle iron. If you can control the temperature of your waffle iron, set it at 370F. When hot, spray the waffle iron (both the top and bottom grates) with some cooking spray and add some dough to the waffle iron. How much? I have no idea. I've never measured it. The amount to add depends on the size of your waffle maker anyway. Add some dough and try to spread it out as thinly as you can – which will be somewhat difficult. Using two forks to help spread the dough helps a lot. Work quickly and then close the lid. With all of the sugar in these, they can burn easily so be sure to watch the waffles when you cook them. When the waffles are nice and brown, remove them from the waffle iron. Be careful – the sugar gets really hot and makes the waffles prone to sticking. They should be nice and crispy. No need to add butter or syrup. In Belgium, liege waffles are a common street food. They are wrapped in a paper napkin and people eat them on-the-go.
Notes: Don't want to go through all of the trouble of getting pearl sugar? Buy some sugar cubes instead. Use a sharp knife to cut the sugar cubes in half then cut each half into four pieces. Don't get the pieces too big or too small or you will affect the texture of the dough.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 7:32 PM