Traditional Liège Waffles
Real Belgian Waffles
(Fair warning, these may very well be the best waffles you will ever eat!)
If you live in the U.S., you've likely grown up knowing belgian waffles as the delicious breakfast you often make in a hurry on weekends, or order off the menu of the local IHOP. The unspoken assumption is that these treats are an import from Belgium, and are distinguishable from ordinary waffles by their larger squares, and a thickness that is ideal for maximum absorption of maple syrup.
While these waffles that we know so well are quite satisfying and go wonderfully with bacon or sausage... they are NOT what they claim to be. The truth of the matter is that belgian waffles are NOT Belgian waffles (capital B). In fact, they do not resemble anything made in Belgium, and they do not TASTE nearly as good as those waffles made in Belgium.
For a true Belgian waffle (capital B), you need to make Liege Waffles. THESE are the waffles they make in Europe and sell to passers by as you wander through the streets. These are the heavier, chewier and oh-so-sugary cousins that most Americans are not aware of.
Liege waffles are a rare treat, and ideal for a making over a long weekend or for a holiday breakfast. The recipe will fill your home with its sweet, buttery, yeasty, toasty, and caramel scents... undoubtedly drawing in everyone nearby to investigate.
The only hesitation I have in recommending this, as a go-to recipe is the amount of time needed to make these. As you'll see below, the time commitment for this recipe is no joke! These waffles are a completely different beast.
For this recipe, you're not making a waffle batter. Instead, you're making waffle dough. Honest to goodness bread dough. And like most dough that contains yeast, it takes time for dough to rise, be pounded down, and to rise yet again.
Liege Waffles are like no other waffle you've ever had. Bits of caramelized sugar encrusting the chewy, warm, bready, center with sugary bits throughout. (Syrup is not necessary... and frankly may insult the waffle.)
(Prepare to spend some time during cleanup though. Your waffle iron will be a mess!)
- Place yeast, sugar and milk into your mixer with a dough hook, and sit for 5-10 mins to activate the yeast.
- Add the egg and mix, then add the 1 1/2 Cups measurement of the flour (do NOT add the full amount).
- Mix to blend. Scrape down sides of bowl.
- Sprinkle remaining 2 1/2 Cups flour over the mixture, but do not stir it in, this will keep the dough from getting crusty.
- Cover the bowl (plastic wrap) so it stays moist. Let it rise for 90 minutes.
- Add brown sugar and salt and blend on low to medium-low speed. While still mixing add the honey and vanilla.
- Then add butter 2 Tbsp at a time. Mix 4 minutes at medium-low speed, scrapping down sides once or twice.
- Let the dough rest for 1 minute and then continue to mix for 2 minutes. The dough will start to ball-up on the paddle. If not let the dough rest for 1 more minute and mix for another 2 minutes.
- Cover again (plastic wrap) and let rise, at room temperature, for 4 hours.
- Refrigerate the bowl for 30 mins, so the yeast is slowed a bit. Then knock the dough down.
- Pour the dough into a piece of plastic wrap, fold that rectangle over on itself then wrap it in plastic, weigh it down a bit and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, place the cold dough (it will be quite firm) on a slightly floured surface and knead in ALL the Belgian sugar (a little bit at a time).
- Once mixed, divide the dough into 13 pieces of equal size.
- Roll each chunk into an ball and let it rise (covered loosely with plastic wrap) for 90 minutes.
- Cook in your waffle iron for about 4 mins at 360 degrees (#4 or 5 on the Peterson Waffler)