Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Belgian Sugar Waffles

There is a waffle iron in our kitchen taking up precious space, and this, this recipe is the reason why.   We have a stack of ideas for various dimpled concoctions, including a chocolate-chip cookie waffle that ended in failure, but the Belgian Sugar Waffle was always going to be the shining star.  Now I have never gone much beyond the make-your-own waffles in the hotel breakfast bar, but I assure you that this recipe does.  Think brioche with an almost crispy carmelized sugar crust.  No syrup needed.


The difference between this and an Eggo starts with the dough.  I say dough and not batter for these waffles because it is made ahead of time and looks more like bread dough.  Emily is still experimenting with the recipe, so I won't say too much until we are definitive experts on the optimal consistency.


The sugar is another key ingredient.  Authentic waffles use pearl sugar, which is to granulated white sugar as kosher salt is to table salt.  It's difficult to find in the store, and kind of pricey online... but the key is a local IKEA.  Take a spin around their food department and you can find the pearl sugar (along with lutefisk, fontina cheese, and bake-your-own swedish rye bread in a milk carton) for reasonable prices.   The sugar's job here is to melt a little bit in the iron and coat the waffle with a crisp sugar crust.


We like the kind of waffle iron with deep pockets for the most crispy surface area.  On the other hand they are a bit more difficult to clean.   My favorite is to eat these hot with lots of fresh fruit.


Belgian Sugar Liege Waffles
Adapted from many many waffle recipes, and not quite yet perfected...
Makes 12 mini or 6 large waffles 

1 tsp active dry yeast
¼ cup whole milk
3 tbsp water
1 egg, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp light brown sugar
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla
8 tbsp butter, softened

Belgian pearl sugar for coating

Heat the milk and water in the microwave until it’s hot to the touch (about 110 degrees F). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the yeast with the milk & water until dissolved. Let stand for a couple minutes to allow yeast to bloom.

With the mixer on a low setting mix the egg in until incorporated. Add the flour and mix until the flour is fully incorporated. The mixture will be dry. Cover and let rest in a warm spot (about 72 degrees F) for 90 minutes.

With the mixer on medium low, add the sugar, salt and baking powder. When mixed in, add the honey and vanilla. Mix until fully incorporated, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each piece is mixed in before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, mix for another 4-6 minutes scraping down the bowl as needed. Cover and let rise overnight.

In the morning, turn the dough over a few times and let rest while pre-heating the waffle iron and pouring the pearl sugar into a bowl. When ready, scoop the dough into tablespoon size balls (for small waffles, more dough for larger waffles) and roll in the pearl sugar. Cook in the waffle iron about 3 ½ minutes (or longer based on your waffle iron and how crispy you like the outside of the waffle to be). Remove with a spatula or tongs. 

They are best eaten warm so either store them in a covered dish while cooking the rest of them or in a low temp oven.

Cooked waffles can be frozen, reheat in the oven. Shaped dough balls can be frozen too. Defrost in the fridge overnight before cooking as directed above.

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