Liège Belgian Waffles
Aren't They All Belgian Waffles?
What is the Difference Between Regular Belgian Waffles and Liège Belgian Waffles?
In truth, the pure meaning of the term “Belgian waffle” has changed over time. Originally, Belgian style waffles referred to yeast-leavened waffles that were baked or cooked in a deeper pocketed style of waffle iron than American-style waffles. It is common practice in American to call any waffle with deep pockets a “Belgian Waffle”, but that isn’t always accurate.
Batter and Dough Waffles
In Europe, some Belgian waffles are batter based, like the Brussels style Belgian waffles. They are made with a yeast-leavened batter and are very crisp and light. Liège, The French-speaking city, Belgium’s fourth-largest city is in the hilly south of the country, an hour’s train journey from Brussels. Liège Belgian Waffle are very different. They are made with a kneaded yeast dough that has pearl sugar incorporated into it.
Pearl sugar can be expensive, but it is worth the cost for how it completely changes the texture of these remarkable waffles. Pearl sugar can be purchased online or in specialty gourmet sections of some grocery stores.
The sugar melts during the baking process, causing a crisp caramelized accent to the finished brioche style dough of the waffle giving it a crisp crunch. Liège waffles are richer, puffier and much chewier than Brussels-style waffles. Some say that they are a waffle that ridiculously transcends the batter waffles in flavor and superiority of texture. They are good warm or cold and are eaten as a breakfast or dessert.
Liège Belgian Waffles
3/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp. quick rise yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
1 ½ tsp. salt
4 ½ cups Panhandle Milling All-purpose Flour
3/4 cup Pearl sugar
Directions: Warm the milk to about 110° F and mix the yeast into the milk in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla bean paste. Add the flour and knead by hand about 5 minutes. Form into a ball and cover. Allow to raise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours. Deflate the dough. Press the dough out onto a work surface and add the pearl sugar. Knead the pearl sugar into the dough until it is evenly distributed. Divide the dough into 9 even pieces and place on lightly oiled plastic wrap 3 inches apart ( or lightly floured counter-top) cover with lightly oiled plastic for 30 minutes, allowing to raise well. Heat the waffle Iron to low. Find the lowest setting on the iron that will caramelize the sugar but not burn it. Cook on well-oiled iron until golden brown. Be very cautious to start the waffle iron at a low temp until you find the setting that will caramelize. Cleaning burned sugar from the waffle iron is extremely difficult.
These waffles can be made ahead and stored in the freezer in a Ziploc bag for up to 3 months. To refresh, heat in a 250 F (120 C) oven or toaster oven until warmed through.
Top these Liege waffles with any number of toppings including fresh berries, Nutella, nuts, whip cream, cinnamon sugar and more!