This week, when I began thinking about what to make for the blog, I remembered this delicious waffle that I once got from Whole Foods as a special dessert treat for a friend of ours who was moving abroad. The packaging said Belgian Waffle, but it was so different than the typical Belgian Waffle that you might get from a breakfast restaurant. It was dense, sweet, crunchy and throughly enjoyable!
It took a little research for me to figure out that the name of this type of waffles is Liege Waffles. They have a beautiful yeasted dough that rests twice to develop a delicious flavor. Crunchy, giant pieces of pearl sugar mixed in before being cooked that melt out the edges and leave a sweet glaze all over the outside of the waffles. One of the most surprising things about these waffles is how heavy they are after they are cooked. The brioche style dough is so full of butter and sugar and spun to create long strands of gluten, that the waffles are dense and heavy and leave you so satisfied after eating them!
Here is how you make them:
The ingredients for this recipe are 3/4 cup whole milk, 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (the recipe called for active dry, but this is what I had on hand), 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs at room temperature, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 4 + cups bread flour, 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, 1 1/4 cup Belgian pearl sugar. The Belgian pearl sugar is a slightly unusual ingredient but I picked a container of it up a few months ago at our local butcher and grocery shop. It can be found at some fine food grocery stores and on amazon.
To begin this recipe, I heated the milk to 110 F degrees and put it in the bottom of the mixing bowl fitted with the dough hook, along with 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast. I gave the mixture a quick mix to make sure all the yeast was in the liquid and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes to make sure the yeast is alive and foaming up. If you stop for a second and listen carefully you can hear the yeast bubble up and pop.
Next, I added 2 cups of bread flour and the two eggs. I gave the mix a good turn around the dough hook and then added the sugar and the vanilla. Finally, I added the last two cups of bread flour. The author of the recipe I used from Salt & Baker warned that the dough would seem very dry, but just keep going and it will all come together. I trusted her, and it did turn out fine but in the end, I needed to add more flour.
Then, I added the soften butter to the dough a tablespoon at a time while the machine was running on low. I needed to stop the mixer a few times and scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure that the butter was all incorporated. As I began to run the mixer after all the butter was mixed in, I realized that the dough needed a little more flour to come together. The dough was more just being squished around the bowl instead of coming together or really being kneaded to develop the long strands of gluten needed for the brioche texture. So a little more flour sprinkled over the dough helped bring it all together. I ended up running the mixmaster for an additional few minutes to make sure it was all mixed through.
After the dough was throughly mixed, I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest. I checked the dough after 30 minutes, since I used the instant yeast and not the active dry, but all the butter and sugar in the dough had made it heavy, so it needed about 1 1/2 hours to rise and puff up. I used my hands to deflate the dough by punching the middle down and folding the edges over the middle. Then I placed it in a glass container and put it in the fridge to rest and ferment overnight. I checked on it about 2 hours later and the top had popped off! I wrapped the container in plastic wrap and let it continue to rest until morning.
The next day, I pulled the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up. It took about an hour for the dough to become pliable again…so much butter! I rolled out the dough on my dough mat, which makes it so easy to roll out without having to add any extra flour. I poured the 1 1/4 cup Belgian pearl sugar over the dough. I rolled it up like a jelly roll and then kneaded it for about a minute to get the sugar incorporated throughout all of the dough. It is important for the sugar to be mixed in right before cooking, because the moisture in the dough will melt the sugar if it is mixed in too soon.
I cut the dough into equal sized pieces and covered them up for 10 minutes while I heated up the waffle iron. A special thanks needs to go out to my wonderful neighbor Emily who let me borrow her waffle iron (ours went to storage for the impending move already) and an extra special thanks to her wonderful mom Wanda for getting her such a nice waffle iron! It is sooooo much nicer than ours!
Each piece of dough is placed in the middle of a waffle iron that is heated to a low heat. I set this waffle iron to a 2 setting. Once the iron was warm, the sugar studded dough went in and the lid was firmly closed. The yeast in the dough continues to rise and pushed the lid up. I used chop sticks to flip the waffle after about 3 minutes to make sure it cooked evenly. I cooked it for another 2 – 3 minutes, to make sure it was cooked through and properly golden. It was the most beautiful thing to see the dough rising, the crust browning, and sugar melting. This doesn’t even begin to mention the delicious smell coming out of the waffle iron. It has the distinct yeasty bread smell, with a note of sugar mixing in. A word of warning though….don’t try to eat it right out of the waffle iron…molten sugar is HOT!
I shared them with Emily and she gave them rave reviews! My youngest son signed more over and over again after being given a small piece and I even tried to bribe my older son to nap with one of these as a reward…the nap didn’t happen but pretty sure he found other ways to get some more pieces of waffles later that night. So if you are looking for a delicious dessert to impress your friends this is a great recipe to give a try!
- I’m amazingly impressed by how delicious these waffles are to eat…even the next day they are continuing to disappear from our kitchen.
- I love that these turned out after the first attempt – especially since they take some time to make.
- The time isn’t very hands on, but this recipe doesn’t come together quickly.
Recipe: Belgian Liege Waffles
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar divided
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups bread flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 1/4 cups Belgian pearl sugar
- Heat the milk to 110°F.
- Add the warm milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add 1 tsp of the granulated sugar. Add the yeast. Lightly mix. Let sit for 10 minutes so that the yeast can bubble.
- Add the eggs and 2 cups of flour. Mix until smooth. Add the sugar, salt, vanilla and the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix until combined. The dough may look dry after the last 2 cups of flour.
- Gradually add the softened butter, a tablespoon at a time. Scrape down the bowl if needed to help the butter fully incorporated. Mix on low speed for 6 minutes. If the dough doesn’t seem to be coming together, add more flour, a few tablespoons at a time until if can be kneaded by the dough hook. The dough will come away from the sides of the bowl and you should see long strands of dough forming.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for 1-2 hours.
- Deflate the dough by pressing down on it in the center and press the sides of the dough down over the middle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
- When you are ready to work again, let the dough sit at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Flatten the dough out on a clean dough mat. Add the pearl sugar and roll the dough like a jelly roll and then knead it into the dough until evenly distributed.
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces.
- Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes. Heat your waffle iron on a low temperature.
- Place dough balls in the center of your waffle iron. Cook for about 3 minutes and then flip it over. Cook for another 2 – 3 minutes or until they are golden brown and the sugar has melted.
Recipe adapted from Salt & Baker