Saturday, December 31, 2011

Liege Waffles

My love for Belgian waffles arose about two years ago when the Wafels and Dinges truck came to Park Slope. It would sit in front of Old First on 7th Avenue throughout the winter playing 1960's schmaltz, selling hot chocolate and of course a selection of Belgian Waffles. After experimenting with the mini-waffelini and even the pulled pork waffle, I settled on my favorite variation called the Liege Waffle after the Belgian town of the same name. These waffles are smaller than regular ones because of how dense and rich they are and small cubes of pearl sugar are dispersed throughout the batter. Unique among waffles, they have yeast in them and take about 1 hour to rise. Dinges are the toppings one can choose from and include nutella (my choice), whipped cream, strawberries, bananas, ice cream and a Northern European gingerbread like spread called speculoos.

Two summers ago, I purchased a waffle iron and with the help of my dad, experimented with a few different recipes, modifying here and there, always adding butter. We perfected the recipe, and my waffles have been treats at many weekend brunches throughout the summer or cozy afternoons in the winter. The waffles from the cart inspired mine as did those from Le Pain Quotidien, a delicious French chain scattered throughout the city and Europe. Today, I made my waffles for a New Year's Eve Brunch for some family friends. People who always refused dessert scarfed them down, drowning them in homemade whipped cream and strawberries.

To begin, take a packet of yeast and pour it into a small bowl filled with 1/3 cup of lukewarm water along with 1 1/2 tbs of salt and sugar. Put the timer on for 15 minutes to let the eukaryotes multiply. In the meantime, melt 1 cup (2 sticks of butter), while you can use any brand, I make it with Irish butter, which has extra fat in it for flavor. In a separate bowl pour in 2 cups of flour. Make a hole in the middle of the flour (not necessary but fun) and add three egg yolks. Set the egg whites aside and beat them later on. When the butter is finished, pour it into the flour/egg mixture and then add the yeast and water. Knead the dough with your fingers until everything is properly intertwined and covered with saran wrap or a bowl. If it's summer, set it outside for forty-five minutes, if it's winter just place it in the warmest spot in your kitchen.

You have forty-five minutes to an hour while you wait for the dough to double in size. In the meantime, I cut up the strawberries into quarters and set the table. As the finish line comes into sight I beat the egg whites and then I make the whipped cream (1 cup of heavy cream plus 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar although this can be adjusted for your tasting pleasure). Also, plug in your waffle iron as it usually takes 10 minutes to heat up. Once your dough is finished rising, gently add the egg whites and 1 cup of granulated white sugar or pearl sugar. I usually put the sugar directly on top of the egg whites before I start to knead it, that way the sugar clumps and caramelizes when it cooks.

Add a drop of Grand Marnier, brandy or vanilla extract. Knead the dough until all of the egg whites have disappeared. Once your waffle iron gives you a green light (this can be a real green light or a metaphorical one), spoon out batter as you see fit and close until the light changes color on the iron. Mine usually cooks each waffle (four sections) in 6 minutes, and this recipe yields three full waffles. Mind you, each quarter segment should be considered one waffle. Most people can't even finish two, so since the three waffles yield 12 segments, you're good for a party of 1-12! To keep them warm before I serve them, I put the oven on its lowest setting and place them on the middle rack. Remember that these waffles take about 1 and 1/2 hours to make so, pace yourself and plan accordingly. Happy New Year!


  1. This blog looks good enough to eat. What can't you do? Next time I see you we plan a day of baking.

  2. I have a long list of things (cooking wise and other sundries) that I can't do, but I'm learning, like how to make pasta with you!