Liege Waffles

  • Serves: Makes 5
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Food styling and photo by Sarah Phillips © Sarah Phillips Served with Raspberry Compote
The Liège waffle (from the city of Liège, in eastern Belgium) is a sweeter, richer, denser, chewier and smaller version of the regular Belgium waffles, so you can hold them in your hands if desired. Invented by the chef of the prince-bishop of Liège in the 18th century as an adaptation of brioche bread dough, it features chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelizes on the outside of the waffle when baked. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and is prepared in plain, vanilla and cinnamon varieties by street vendors across the nation. 


The iron's temperature is very crucial in making an exceptional Liege waffle. This recipe is adapted from

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup whole or 2% milk at 110-115 degrees
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons water at 110-115 degrees F
1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 cups bread flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
bread flour, extra, if needed

1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons vanilla

8 tablespoons (1 stick or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3/4 cup Belgian Pearl Sugar or 1/2 cup pearl sugar or 1 cup crushed sugar cubes

Make the starter:
1. Place yeast, milk, and water into the work bowl of a stand mixer. Stir for a few seconds to moisten the yeast.

2. Add the lightly beaten egg and 1/3 of the total flour. Mix to blend. Scrape down sides of bowl.

3. Sprinkle remaining 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).

Make the dough:
1. Add the brown sugar and salt to the work bowl of a stand mixer. Fit it with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed – just to blend.

2. With machine on low, add honey and vanilla.

3. Then add 2 tablespoons of butter at a time. Mix 4 minutes at medium-low speed; scrape down sides once or twice.

4. Let the dough rest for 1 minute and then continue to mix for 2 minutes. The dough will stick to the sides of the bowl in the last minute of mixing.

In the last 30 seconds of so, will start to ball-up on the paddle attachment. If this does not happen, let the dough rest for 1 more minute and mix for another 2 minutes on low.

5. Scrape the dough into a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at the warm side of room temperature for 4 hours. This step is crucial for developing the flavor.

6. REFRIGERATE FOR 30 MINUTES. This is essential. The yeast fermentation must be slowed before continuing.

7. Remove from the refrigerator. Stir the dough down or gently deflate the gases from the dough, by pressing on it with a rubber spatula.

8. Scrape the dough onto a silpat nonstick mat or a very lightly greased work surface (very lightly spray the work surface with vegetable oil).
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.

9. Wrap the dough in plastic and place on a metal cookie sheet. Weigh the dough down a bit (I put two heavy dinner plates on top of it) and refrigerate overnight.

10. The next day, place the cold firm dough in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the pearl sugar over the dough. Mix it into the dough by hand until the chunks are well-distributed.
Once mixed, divide the dough into 5 pieces of equal size. Use a kitchen scale to help you equally measure the pieces.

Let rise and cook in the waffle iron:
1. Shape each chunk into an oval ball (like a football without the pointy ends) and let it rise (covered loosely in plastic wrap) in a warm place for exactly 90 minutes.

2. If you have a professional waffle iron (meaning: it’'s cast iron and weighs over 20 pounds) cook at exactly 365 to 370 degrees F (the max temp before sugar begins to burn/decompose) for approximately 2 minutes.**

3. Give each waffle a few minutes to cool slightly on a wire cake rack 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.

** If you have a regular waffle iron, heat the iron to about 420 degrees F (hint: many regular waffle irons go up to and over 550 degrees at their highest setting). Place the dough on the iron, and immediately unplug it or turn the temperature dial all the way down, otherwise, the sugar will burn.

The waffles will keep well for several days in an airtight container.


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