Saturday, 29 November 2014

Liege waffles

This is a post I found in my drafts folder which for some reason never got published at the time of writing. I'm not sure why, as these are in my opinion the best waffles I have ever made. They definitely rival the wonderful Belgian Waffles sold at the Cambridge marketplace, although after some industrial espionage, the dough for the marketplace waffles is very different from the one used here, it's much more solid (it's not scooped, it's in actual lumps which the Waffle Guy puts in his proper full-on iron waffle maker), and it's also darker so I'm suspecting some sort of treacle etc. is used in there. But nonetheless, for being home made waffles made by Claude (my rather cheap waffle maker I bough online) they are as close to perfection as you can get in my humble opinion.
In the last week I have learned a lot about waffles. One thing I have learned is that to make authentic Liege waffles, you need pearl sugar. Funnily enough, it's something I happened to have in my cupboard as I have imported it from back home, but I haven't been able to find it in any store here in the UK. Apparently it's also very important that you have proper pearl sugar made from sugar beets for the right caramelisation. I was also a bit worried to embark on this road as all the recipes said you have to be really careful to find the very narrow heat range where the sugar will caramelise and not burn and you should have an infrared thermometer to make sure you have the right temperature. I might have been really lucky, but I managed to find a good setting on my waffle maker almost immediately. 

Recipe from here

Liege waffles (makes 8):
7 g instant yeast
1 1/2 tbsp cater sugar
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 cup (225 g) melted butter
1 1/2 cups pearl sugar (I only added 1 cup)

The howto:
Mix yeast, flour, caster sugar and salt. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and melted butter and mix. The original recipe suggests you should let the dough rise for about 30 minutes, but nothing had happened to my dough in that time. I think it's because the butter makes it such a rich dough. I left mine for about three hours after which it had risen well and looked fluffy. After the dough has risen, mix in the pearl sugar. The original recipe says you can store the dough in the fridge over night shaped into single servings wrapped in plastic wrap.

All recipes for Liege waffles say you should keep your waffle maker on a low setting to not burn the pearl sugar. I turned down the temperature on my very cheap basic waffle maker and had to turn it right back up to a bit past medium again to the same setting I use for any other waffles to get the beautiful golden brown caramelisation and I had absolutely no problem with burnt sugar. If you are not sure, turn down your waffle maker a bit and keep an eye on it while cooking the first waffle. For me, using a somewhat over medium setting and cooking for 7 minutes per waffle was a perfect setting. 

The verdict:
These waffles come out of the waffle iron quite soft, but leave them on a wire rack for a minute or two and they develop that amazing crunchy crust. They are also rather sweet, I only added 1 cup of the pearl sugar and they were still on the sweet side. Also, they are very rich with all that butter. I'm convinced it's the combination of butter and sugar which makes them so incredibly dreamy and crunchy, but I think next time I will try to reduce the amount of butter somewhat. I really felt quite bad eating the waffles despite them being so incredibly delicious because of the indulgent amount of butter. But out of several different waffle recipes I have tried lately, these are by far superior to any others and much more similar to the amazing Belgian waffles you can get at the marketplace in Cambridge. These are definitely amazing waffles, maybe something to save for a special occasion such as a birthday, or a Sunday afternoon.

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