I thought we’d start off the year the way we’d start off the day, with breakfast. In my case I am also breaking my blogging fast—blogfast? These Liège waffles have been written about before by other bloggers. If you’re anything like me, you skip them because you don’t happen to have any pearl sugar on your shelf—or you read the comments and are annoyed by the discussions of why every recipe is not the authentic recipe. Don’t be like me! Or yourself! These are so good that pearl sugar is worth seeking out, and annoying people are worth ignoring. In fact, a good 2013 resolution is to always seek out unusual ingredients, they’ll teach you something. Also, since the invention of the internet there are not a lot of good excuses for not being able to get your hands on something. It is a wonderful and terrible fact of our time. Pearl sugar is special because it won’t melt under the heat of the waffle iron, leaving little crunches of sugar throughout the waffle. This recipe is not worth making without it. No substitutions! Happy New Year!
The recipe comes from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, a book that I unexpectedly loved. I don’t care too much about coffee, and the first half of the book is dedicated to the production and consumption of coffee. The second half of the book contains recipes for things to eat with your coffee, mostly sweets—totally my speed. The book is one of the best looking cookbooks published last year, but what ended up charming me was the writing. It somehow manages to avoid being too esoteric/pretentious/annoying in the way I was worried a book that is essentially a coffee manifesto would be. Bottom line, I like it. And I’ve liked the recipes I’ve tried from it and I even have liked reading about coffee. So there.
But back to the waffle recipe. The recipe is wonderful. Simple. You obviously need a Belgian waffle iron, but maybe you have one? Or a friend does? We should all share this sort of specialized cooking equipment with our friends. It can’t possibly be used enough in one household. I think these waffles are particularly brilliant because they are delicious at room temperature. In fact, I preferred them after they’d cooled off a bit. It takes the pressure off of serving. I even liked them the next day, how many waffles can you say that about? You need to think of these like a scone or biscuit. They can be eaten out of hand and do not require syrup or any other topping. They are their own beautiful thing. Not too sweet and full of crunchy bits of sugar. They are a great way to start your morning, or year. And yes, they’d be particularly nice with a cup of coffee.
Liège Waffles (adapted slightly from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water, between 90°F and 100°F
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup pastry flour*
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 4 tablespoons pearl sugar
In a small bowl, combine the yeast and water and let sit for 5 minutes.
Melt the butter and let cool to about 115°F. Sift the flours and granulated sugar into a separate bowl. Stir in the salt.
Crack the eggs into a medium bowl. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the pulp into the eggs, and whisk vigorously until well-blended. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, along with the yeast and melted butter. Whisk until smooth.
Cover the batter with plastic wrap and let rest until doubled in size, 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
Gently fold the pearl sugar into the dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Preheat a Belgian-style waffle maker to medium-high heat.
Scoop the amount of batter suggested for your waffle maker into the waffle maker and sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar on top. Cook until the indicator light goes off or until browned (dark) and crisp.
*you can use substitute all-purpose for the pastry flour.