I ate my way through all of my first batch of liege waffles and decided it was time to make another batch. I mentioned in my first post about waffles that I came across two essentially polar opposite recipes. The first one (and derivative versions) was much more common and much simpler. I actually came across the second one from a comment posted on the first recipe. It’s daunting because it has an overnight rest and very precise rising times. I made a few adjustments, partly related to my laziness in measuring at times. I know I know, that’s a terrible thing for bakers to do.
There was still some pearl sugar left over from when I was experimenting with making it from granulated sugar. I would let larger crystals form next time. The smaller crystals melt VERY fast, so you end up with a crunchy sugar glaze outside when the waffle is cool-warm, but the waffle becomes impossible to hold after reheating and often burns if you put it in a regular toaster.
But what’s the verdict?
I find the batter for this recipe to be firmer than the first one. This makes it easier to put onto the waffle iron because you can just pick up a piece of dough with your hands. The texture of the cooked waffle is also very different. This recipe yields a chewier, denser, almost bread-like waffle, but it had a more complex flavor (probably because of vanilla, honey and brown sugar). The other recipe was much fluffier and softer and retained the fluffy texture even after reheating. However, this recipe is also really quite an annoying effort to yield 6 waffles. If you have the time, great. If not, well, I’m okay with eating the waffles from the first recipe too. It really comes down to personal preference. I like fluffy waffles, and my dad likes chewy ones.
But the waffle adventures are not over. I plan to make a third hybrid batch that is hopefully fluffy but also complex with less time. Hopefully honey and extra cinnamon will make things interesting.
But here it is. Attempt #2.
(Complex) Liege Waffles
Adapted, with very much appreciation from here
1.5 tsp quick rise yeast
1/4 cup milk scalded then cooled to lukewarm by adding 13 mL room temperature water.
2 cups bread flour
1 large egg, room temperature, beaten
1 heaping tbsp golden sugar
pinch of salt
8.5 Tbsp (a little over 1/2 cup) butter, softened.
1.5 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup Belgian sugar
Beat the egg and mix with the milk and water. Add the yeast* and stir to mix.
*I use Fleischmann’s quick rise yeast which works just as well if you add it in with dry ingredients. But I didn’t want to risk it with this recipe so just added it into liquids first.
Add in 2/3 cup – 1 cup of the flour and mix well. Scrape the batter down from the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the rest of the flour evenly over the batter but do NOT mix it in. Cover and leave for about 1.5 hours. The batter will have risen up and you should be able to see it through the flour covering.
Mix in any remaining flour.
Add the sugar, salt, honey and vanilla, mixing until well incorporated.
Add in the butter gradually, about 2 tbsp at a time. The mixture will start off liquidy but quickly get thick and sticky, about the consistency of creamed butter and sugar. Keep mixing until the dough comes together into a ball, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. The original recipe states to mix for 4 minutes then rest for 1 minute, then mix for another 2. I mixed mine for 2 minutes at a time after each butter incorporation, scraping the sides of the bowl while it rested. Then I just kept mixing it at about a 2-4 speed on my KitchenAid with paddle attachment until the dough balled up.
Cover the dough with a light dusting of flour then loosely wrap plastic wrap over the bowl. Let rise for 4 hours. Yes. 4. Go watch TV. Take a nap.
Refrigerate the dough for half an hour and deflate dough by pressing it with a rubber spatula. The dough should be quite firm from the refrigeration. Don’t squash the dough completely.
Press the dough into a long rectangle and fold the two sides in so you get a roughly square shaped piece of dough. Wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in your fridge with something heavy on top of it. I used a plate of leftover chicken. Chill overnight.
Mix the dough with pearl sugar until evenly incorporated. Here, the original says to do it all at once, but the dough is quite hard. Instead, I just divided the dough first and mixed in pearl sugar into each piece.
Shape the dough into oval balls and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1.5 hours. Exactly 1.5 hours. I overslept unfortunately and might have let it rise for more like 2 hours.
I have a Waring Pro as mentioned previously. I tried setting it to 4 and cooking for 2 minutes and it was just barely done, but still had that slightly chewy not-quite-cooked texture. I think the optimal cooking time is between 2.5 – 3 minutes, but not more than 3 because the sugar melts and starts to burn. I noticed that the waffles get browner as you cook them because the sugar from the last waffle sticks to the iron and caramelizes more before it transfers to the next waffle.
Also, the all important fact, ESPECIALLY if you’re using homemade pearl sugar. Let it cool! I know it’s hard. You just want to eat them right away because it smells amazing. Do not do it. Hot sugar burning the roof of your mouth is very unpleasant. Go clean your waffle iron instead because it will look like this: