Liège Style Waffles require an overnight rise, and are filled with pearl sugar, which gives them a sweet taste and a caramelized crust.
They are wonderful with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, and/or macerated fruit.
Liège Style Waffles were evidently introduced to the U.S. as Belgian waffles during the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
I actually attended that World's Fair with my grandmother. She took me to New York City with her when she went to a Business and Professional Women's conference, which ran concurrently with the World's Fair. I think she actually won an award. 1964! My grandmother, born in 1901, was a BPW member! How cool is that?
By the way, did you know that the 1964 World's Fair was where It's a Small World was introduced? I actually rode the ride at the World's Fair! (It was just as annoying then as it is now).
There is lots of intense debate about what comprises a true Liège waffle. I've visited quite a few recipes, and the commenters are pretty passionate. Who knew that a single dish could get folks all worked up!
- Should the batter include milk?
- Does the Swedish pearl sugar I already own really work for these waffles or should I get Belgian sugar?
- Even worse, should you even consider homemade pearl sugar?
- How much yeast is too much yeast?
- How many eggs should the dough contain?
- What kind of waffle iron should you use?
Even though Belgian sugar would be more authentic, I ended up using the Swedish pearl sugar I already had in my pantry. Swedish pearl sugar is smaller than Belgian sugar, but is pretty close in character, in that it does not melt the way granulated sugar does.
These waffles are amazing fresh off the waffle iron. I recommend making these like a short order cook. After all, they are street food!
They tend to harden from the caramelized sugar if left out too long, so serve them immediately. If you have leftovers, wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze them. Defrost them, still wrapped, the night before, and then heat in the microwave, unwrapped, for about 20 seconds before serving. So good.
As you make these, you will notice that your waffle iron will collect a lot of caramelized sugar in the crevices. This just makes the waffles better.
I have actually never owned a waffle iron until now. I ended up buying this inexpensive Belgian waffle maker, because the plates were removable and easily washable. I was super happy with it!
This month, the Avid Bakers Challenge group is making Liège Style Waffles based on a recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
Liege Style Waffles Recipe
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (I used SAF Gold)
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 2/3 cups (460 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons (200 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups pearl sugar, Swedish (which is what I used) or Belgian (which is more authentic)
- Warm the milk and water to lukewarm, about 110 degrees F, and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the brown sugar and the yeast and stir.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk. Add all of the flour, holding back about a cup, and stir with a dough whisk or the dough hook. Add the salt and stir again.
- Place the bowl on the stand mixer, and, using the dough hook, begin to add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Be sure to incorporate each tablespoon of butter before adding the next one. This might take a long time, but that's okay. You don't want to shortcut this step.
- Once all of the butter is incorporated, add the rest of the flour and knead for about five minutes, until smooth and shiny.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature, about two hours, until doubled. Deflate the dough, cover it again, and let rise in the refrigerator overnight, up to 24 hours.
- When you are ready to make the waffles, knead in the pearl sugar until evenly distributed.
- Divide the dough into 16 evenly sized pieces and form them into balls. I recommend keeping the uncooked balls of dough covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator while you bake each waffle so that the butter does not weep out of the dough.
- Heat your waffle iron to medium high heat. If your waffle iron is nonstick, there is no need to oil it. Place the first ball of dough onto the waffle plate, close the iron, and cook for about 5 minutes, until there is no steam and the waffle is a deep golden brown. As you are baking the waffles, you can adjust the heat and cooking time as you get used to how they bake.
- Serve the waffles immediately, as they emerge from the waffle iron. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree F oven for a bit, but not too long.
- Wrap leftovers individually in plastic wrap and freeze. Warm each waffle, unwrapped, for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave.
- Serve plain or with whipped cream, ice cream, and/or fruit.