Brown Butter Liege Waffles
So for those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know my recent obsession with Liege waffles. They're a dough-based waffle that have this perfect caramelized, crunchy crust when you bite into it. Because the waffle is made from a yeasted dough, the flavors and texture are a bit more complex than your typical Sunday morning waffle. And with Mother's Day coming up, I thought it would be the perfect breakfast to make for mom.
But why the obsession? How did I hear of this "other Belgian waffle"? Well, I saw a special on Liege waffles several years back...oh it maybe longer than that now, but I was at a food show in Boston last month, and saw Liege waffles at one of the food stands! The stand turned out to be a cafe in Harvard Square, which I subsequently visited several weeks after. The place, Zinnekens, was totally quaint and their Belgian waffles were totally delicious!
Anyways, after that, I knew I had to find THE RECIPE for these waffles, so I got to looking. There were a lot of similar ones, but I think they all trace back to the Liege Waffle Blog. The recipe looked very promising as the blog contained many tips and pictures. The only thing was that immediately, I encountered two road blocks. One was that it took about 2 days to make - meaning I couldn't eat it right away, which I hate. Second, I did not have "Belgian pearl sugar." It was supposed to be the secret ingredient behind the crunch of the Liege waffle and according to everybody, I needed to have it before I began making the waffles. Sigh. Anyways, I eventually got them at a store in Harvard Square that sells a lot of international foodstuffs. If I didn't find them there, I would have just ordered them on Amazon for about $5.
I found the recipe to make pretty good waffles. I'd say for me, I would have liked the dough itself to be a little less sweet so that when I bite onto the individual pearl sugars, I could get the sweetness and crunch from them. I jazzed it up a bit with a brown butter almond topping, and I found the little bit of saltiness from that really brought out the flavor of the waffle. I didn't add any sugar to the brown butter almond topping and that tasted perfectly because the sugar came from the waffle.
A note is that when you do finally knead in the pearl sugars, they do have a tendency to pop back out, so just do your best to press them back in. Waffle iron temperature is also really important in creating the caramelized waffles. I couldn't set a temperature on mine, but the original blog post recommended to set your waffle irons to about 420 degrees Fahrenheit. I think a good tip is to wipe down the iron with a damp cloth after each waffle. Because the Liege waffles contain butter and the bits and pieces of pearl sugar, that sort of caramelizes and if you don't clean it off after each waffle, the remaining waffles get dark because of the burnt sugars from the previous waffle. Finally, I found that with my smaller waffle iron, I needed to divide the waffle dough into about 10 servings and not 5. I'd say even at 10 waffles, they are at a pretty good size, so judge for yourself. I know it's a bunch of steps, but everything is pretty straight forward. I think you guys will be really happy with the results. I paired mine with almonds and butter, but I tried it at Zinnekens with Nutella and whipped cream.
Oh, I forgot. I tried to freeze my dough and make it the next day to see if you can make these in batches and I thought the waffles were just as delicious. Just make sure to give the waffle time to thaw and rest. That way, even though this recipe takes a while to make, if you make enough, you might not need to make another batch for a bit!
(Full list of ingredients are below)
- Place yeast, milk, and water into stand mixer. Stir for a few seconds to moisten the yeast.
- Add the egg and 2/3 of a cup of the flour. Mix to blend. Scrape down sides of bowl.
- Sprinkle remaining 1 and 1/3 cups of flour over the mixture, but do not stir it in. Cover and let stand 75-90 minutes (at the end of that time, you’ll notice the batter bubbling up through the cover of flour).
- Add brown sugar and salt to the work bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed (speed #2) – just to blend.
- With machine on low, add honey and vanilla. Then add 2 Tbsp. of butter at a time. Mix 4 minutes at medium-low speed; scrape down sides once or twice in that period. Let the dough rest for 1 minute and then continue to mix for 2 minutes. If you measured your ingredients perfectly, the dough will be sticking to the sides of the bowl in the last minute of mixing and then, in the last 30 seconds of so, will start to ball-up on the paddle. If this does not happen, let the dough rest for 1 more minute and mix for another 2 minutes.
- Scrape the dough into a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 4 hours. This step is crucial for developing the flavor.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes before proceeding to step 8. This is essential. The yeast respiration must be slowed before continuing.
- Stir the dough down (meaning: gently deflate the gases from the dough, by pressing on it with a rubber spatula), scrape it onto a piece of plastic wrap, and then use the spatula to press the dough into a long rectangle. Fold that rectangle over on itself (by thirds – like a letter) so that you have a square of dough. Wrap it in plastic, weigh it down a bit (I put two heavy dinner plates on top of it) and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, place the cold dough (it will be quite firm) in a large bowl and add all of the pearl sugar to a bowl. It will seem like a lot of sugar, but it’s supposed to be :) Mix it into the dough by hand until the chunks are well-distributed. Once mixed, divide the dough into 5 pieces of equal size.
- Shape each chunk into an oval ball (like a football without the pointy ends) and let it rise (covered loosely in plastic wrap) for 90 minutes.
- If you have a professional waffle iron (meaning: it’s cast iron and weighs over 20 pounds) cook at exactly 365-370 degrees (the max temp before sugar begins to burn/decompose) for approximately 2 minutes.** Give each waffle a few minutes to cool slightly before eating. No syrup or toppings are needed, unless you’d like to add some fruit or a dusting of powdered sugar; they’re quite sweet on their own.
- Toast sliced almonds over medium high heat. Add butter and heat for 2 minutes until butter turns nutty.
(makes 5-10 waffles)
- 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup scalded whole milk
- 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. of water
- 2 cups King Arthur Bread Flour
- 1 large room temperature egg, lightly beaten
- 1Tbsp. + 1 tsp. light brown sugar
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 8 1/2 Tbsp. soft room temperature unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 3/4 cup Belgian Pearl Sugar
Brown Butter Almond Sauce
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 3 Tbsp salted butter