Years ago, I lived in London when I was doing my first degree and I loved nothing more than spending my free time, walking the length and breadth of the city taking in all the sights. Even though I was every bit the impoverished student, I would often wander down to Selfridges to see how the other half lived and do a little window shopping.
But just over the road to Selfridges, they was a teeny tiny little kiosk which sold Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and besides the usual cones and tubs, you could have your ice cream served on a hot Belgian waffle. You can imagine the mouthwatering sweet scents which wafted down Bond Street from that little hole in the wall.
It was highly impractical to eat a waffle with a gigantic scoop of ice cream on a paper plate walking down one of the busiest shopping streets in London but one bite and I was hooked! I just came prepared with handy wipes and tissues for my next waffle hit ;). These Liège Waffles are my idea of dessert heaven and are exactly what I remember from all those years ago.
Now there are two fundamentally different types of waffle – the first are super simple to make and are in essence, a pancake batter cooked in a waffle iron. The second, are yeasted doughs although some can be loose enough to be more accurately described as a yeasted batter.
Liège waffles (from the city of Liège in Belgium) are the most decadent of all the waffles but that is what makes them so utterly, wonderfully amazing to eat.
The dough is prepared in exactly the same way as brioche – butter being beaten into it with an overnight prove in the fridge to develop the flavour and make the soft and enriched dough easy to handle the next morning.
As well as a good amount of butter, the thing which makes a Liège waffle what it is, is the inclusion of pearl sugar. I get mine from Bakery Bits but have checked the main supermarkets and larger stores carry it in the UK so you shouldn’t struggle to find it.
Pearl sugar (sometimes sold as Belgian sugar) is hard and compacted into tiny little nuggets and in these waffles, it becomes molten and caramelly once cooked in your waffle iron.
You must allow them to cool for a minute or two before eating or the sugar will be ferociously hot but served just waffle with a slick of maple syrup and a little pat of butter to melt in and you are moments away from bliss in the form of dessert or indulgent weekend brunch.
You can buy pots of maple butter but you could simply beat equal amounts of butter and maple syrup together and chill for 30 minutes before using. A pinch of salt is a perfect balance to all the sweet.
When cooked, Liège waffles are crisp on the outside but super soft and fluffy inside with a delectable butteriness reminiscent of a toasted brioche. Whilst they are my dream dessert with ice cream and some chopped pecans, you would be my best friend for life if you served them to me with smoked streaky bacon as well as lashings of maple syrup 😉
Sweet and buttery yeasted dough waffles with pearl sugar kneaded in for extra caramelly deliciousness. A perfect dessert waffle served with ice cream or enjoyed simply with a little butter and maple syrup.
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 2 tsp dried fast action yeast
- 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 125 g whole milk (yes I weigh my liquids for bread doughs!)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 100 g water
- 200 g soft butter, cut into inch chunks
- 225 g pearl sugar
Whisk the flour, yeast, sugar and sea salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the dough hook onto the mixer.
Whisk the eggs, seeds of a vanilla pod plus the extract, milk, honey and water together in a jug and pour slowly into the dried ingredients with the motor running mix it in to a soft and sticky dough. Continue to knead until soft and smooth and cleans the side of the bowl - 5-10 minutes on low to medium space.
Turn the speed down to low and knead in the butter one chunk at a time. This will make the dough a lot softer and more like a super thick batter. Continue kneading another 10 minutes until no streaks of butter remain - you may want to stop and scrape the dough down a couple of times.
Allow to prove in the bowl covered with cling film at room temp for up to 4 hours - once 2-3 times the size, lightly punch down the dough and cover once again, chilling in the fridge over night, up to 24 hours.
When ready to cook, remove the dough and flatten to a large round. Measure out the pearl sugar on top of the dough and knead it in - it's much easier to do if you simply fold it over and over than tried and pummel it in!
Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape to a rough oblong shape about 3/4 inch thick. You don't need to make them desperately smooth. If not using all them immediately, wrap tightly in two layers of cling film and freeze for another day.
Heat your waffle maker up - I use an electric one but you can use stove top irons instead. When hot, squash in as many pieces of dough as your waffle maker cooks. Close the lid firmly and cook for 2-4 minutes until well browned and cooked through. You might want to cook one waffle first time to see how long your waffle iron takes as the temps can vary quite a bit. For stove top waffle irons, you will need to cook 2 mins on the first side and 1 one the second.
- If you are freezing excess dough, then thaw in the fridge for an hour or work top for 30 minutes and cook as above.
- If you prefer to cook them all in one go, you will need to reheat them before eating as the sugar will solidify when cold so either microwave for 45 seconds or pop in the toaster. The microwave makes them softer whereas the toaster gives a fluffy middle and crisp outside. Just be really careful as the hot sugar can burn so allow to cool a little before eating.
- To clean the waffle iron, I unplug it and place some damp kitchen roll in the middle to soften any sugar deposits. When cool, they should wipe off easily.
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