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.
January 5th, 2013 at 10:40 pm
Sold! I could always use a new waffle recipe. Going to buy pearl sugar tomorrow. Happy new year!
January 6th, 2013 at 2:21 am
Omg those look amazing! I’ve never seen a yeasted waffle batter recipe before. I *have* to give these a go, I bet the pearl sugar would be delicious!
January 6th, 2013 at 3:07 am
These look delicious! I love the idea of a yeast waffle. I’ll definitely be making these for breakfast next weekend…
January 6th, 2013 at 3:27 am
How odd is it that I can actually almost taste the vanilla bean and feel the waffles’ crunch, just from your pictures? I think my kitchen appliance wishlist just increased by one!
January 6th, 2013 at 6:12 am
Being Belgian, this is the kind of dessert I grew up with: waffles in different varieties (there’s also Brussels waffles etc.). Nor can you escape it if you travel in Belgium. These Liege waffles are sold in ciy centers and every train station – tempting when you go home hungry after work! I can only confirm that these waffles aren’t from Liege when without pearl sugar
January 6th, 2013 at 8:17 am
Happy new year to you too, Tim! These waffles look just lovely. I like your thought about sharing specialized cooking equipment with friends! I haven’t been able to convince myself that I need a waffle iron, but maybe I can convince me and my friends that we all need one?
January 6th, 2013 at 8:36 am
What kind of pearl sugar did you use? Swedish pearl sugar stays in tact, but Belgian pearl sugar caramelizes a bit and it’s what’s used for Belgian sugar waffles.
January 6th, 2013 at 8:50 am
When I lived in Belgium, I spent many an afternoon transferring at the Brussels central station. My favorite thing there was the Liege style waffle stand – it was hidden away to the side, not on the main floor of the train station. But this man’s waffles were heavenly! Dense and chewy with the perfect amount of sugar crystals studded throughout. It is one of the things I miss most about Belgium! Can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks for the memory!
Caroline Shields says:
January 6th, 2013 at 9:09 am
waffle obsessed! happy new year!
January 6th, 2013 at 11:10 am
I have pearl (nib) sugar as I bought it last year for chouquettes and love using it. However, I don’t have a waffle iron and can’t justify buying one when there are so many other delicious breakfast options that don’t require specialist equipment. However, I like your idea of sharing. Maybe I should set up a sort of kitchen equipment library with friends as I bet we all have different gadgets, cakes tins, moulds etc. without even realising it. Thank you for the inspiration! Let’s hope somebody I know, or somebody they know, has a waffle iron!
January 6th, 2013 at 12:08 pm
Can a regular waffle maker be used instead?
January 6th, 2013 at 1:16 pm
I happen to love coffee and sweets (and beautiful, well written cookbooks). I tend to avoid using unusual ingredients, because, well–sometimes the recipes come across as pretentious to me! I love the adventure of trying new things, though, so it’s admittedly difficult to find a balance. These waffles look fantastic!
January 6th, 2013 at 1:17 pm
Waffles are the best. I love them so much. I can’t wait to add this to my collection!
January 6th, 2013 at 3:47 pm
Well, this just proves that great minds think alike. I just had a craving for these waffles New Years Day, but didn’t have the pearl sugar…I immediately went to Amazon & ordered myself some, now waiting impatiently for it to arrive….
January 6th, 2013 at 4:31 pm
Ok, you are right, I know I now must get some pearl sugar. So worth it for a better than good waffle!
January 6th, 2013 at 8:18 pm
I’ve been looking for a recipe like this since my husband and I traveled to Belgium last year. I can’t wait to surprise him next weekend with waffles for breakfast! Thanks for sharing!
January 6th, 2013 at 10:28 pm
I’ve been to Blue Bottle coffee in San Francisco, and had their waffles… which were amazing. How exciting to now have the recipe to them! Thank you!
January 7th, 2013 at 10:12 am
I had these for the first time in August, on vacation in Curacao. They were so good that we paid for the very expensive breakfast at the hotel a second time, just to have more. When I asked for the recipe, I was told they were shipped in from Belgium. I am so excited to have this recipe(especially because this one looks so much more manageable than the other ones I’ve seen online). Thank you!
January 7th, 2013 at 10:54 am
Love the suggestion that households should team up to share infrequently used appliances. Like, I might seriously go out and try to do that with some neighbors. Happy breaking your blogfast; happy new year. –S
January 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm
Amazing! I am not a proud owner of waffle maker but looking at these pretty waffles I feel so tempted to buy one.I wish I could get some to eat!
January 7th, 2013 at 7:17 pm
Would you believe me when I told you I spent years looking for pearl sugar? I finally found it in a health food store while my son was at a soccer training and I bought it right away. I had been dying to make the waffles but could never find the sugar. I still have some in the pantry, I am looking forward to giving your recipe a try. The kids love the leige waffles.
Happy New Year!
January 7th, 2013 at 11:31 pm
This is the best new years resolution ever: “to always seek out unusual ingredients, they’ll teach you something”
I am totally up for that!
January 8th, 2013 at 11:54 am
Very interesting, I’m saving this recipe…hmmm, got Maldon Sea Salt but will have to seek out pearl sugar and give a try. Happy New Year!
Pam @ Sticks Forks Fingers says:
January 8th, 2013 at 5:30 pm
Heaven involves waffles, I’m certain. And because I believe so, I own the fanciest Belgian waffle iron I can afford. It takes up a lot of space and gets used only 2 or 3 times a month. It is worth having because a bit of heaven 2 or 3 times a month is worth having!
la domestique says:
January 8th, 2013 at 8:44 pm
I love waffles. We are moving in the near future, but when we get settled a waffle iron may be the first new kitchen equipment I need. Yum.
January 8th, 2013 at 9:20 pm
Happy New Year! What a festive brunch these waffles will make! They’re on my menu next Sunday!
January 9th, 2013 at 12:08 pm
One of the commenters says that they have a waffle iron but “only”‘miss it 2 or 3 times a month. Goodness, that seems like quite a lot of usage to me! Do you all have stove top ones or electric ones, and which is best? I think I may invest!
January 9th, 2013 at 12:49 pm
Hi Susan! I am also impressed by how often Pam makes waffles! I have an inexpensive electric waffle iron. It is just okay. I wish it got a little hotter. My guess is that like much kitchen equipment, the heavier the better.
Amber - Loves Food, Loves to Eat says:
January 9th, 2013 at 11:03 pm
Liege waffles! I had amazing liege waffles in Belgium a few years ago (the best was at the Antwerp train station!), and then I found pearl sugar to make them… but never have! Must make these!
January 11th, 2013 at 10:11 pm
I was also skeptical about pearl sugar (especially given its price tag), but you are absolutely right–not optional, next-level stuff.
glad you’re back.
January 12th, 2013 at 6:15 am
Hi Tim. Thanks for your response. Apologies for the typo where I said “miss” instead of “use”. I hate typos but it is a problem with using my iPhone! I will investigate waffle irons further and check the comments for other suggestions.
Beth C says:
January 12th, 2013 at 2:24 pm
My husband and I were in Belgium last fall, and since then I’ve been threatening to make gaufres. You’ve convinced me to give it a try!
January 12th, 2013 at 11:26 pm
Hi Tim! I love your blog, congrats on the Saveur win! I am a pastry chef in LA and studied food sociology at UC Santa Cruz. I read through your about section and thought that your interests on food and politics are really fascinating. I wrote my thesis on the gender inequalities in the kitchen and stumbled upon some pretty interesting articles and publications on the relationships between the public and private sphere and the food service industry. Anyway, don’t mean to ramble, just wanted to say hello and keep sharing your beautiful blog posts!
Katie N. says:
January 13th, 2013 at 10:37 pm
I bought pearl sugar at IKEA of all places and it’s been in my cupboard unused ever since. Now I finally have a recipe to try – thanks!
Ben @Focus:Snap:Eat says:
January 14th, 2013 at 4:01 pm
I’m not a big coffee drinker either, but love things that go with coffee like crumb cake, pastries, etc. Never thought about a Liege waffle but I guess with some powdered sugar on top, it’ll be great with coffee. :)
January 15th, 2013 at 12:19 pm
This is irrelevant to the post (although I shall be trying these waffles as soon as I unpack my waffle iron). Just moved to Chicago and love love love your restaurant guide. Do you have any recommendations for grocery stores and/or interesting food markets/specialty stores? So many options, don’t know where to begin!
January 15th, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Hey Kate- Welcome to Chicago! I was just lamenting the fact that we don’t have more interesting, reliable gourmet shops. A couple of places to try: Fox & Obel, Green Grocer, Pastoral, Marion Street Cheese Market, Provenance. The Whole Foods off of North Avenue is pretty good, too.
January 16th, 2013 at 11:32 pm
Thank you Tim! That’ll be a great way to spend this weekend.
January 16th, 2013 at 11:37 pm
I’m so excited to give this recipe a try! My husband has been talking about the waffles from Blue Bottle for years as he travels there frequently on business. I’ve tried to replicate them from his description and actually bruleed sugar on the waffles after they came off the iron and sprinkling sugar on top of the batter and then cooking them. Now I know the secret! Thank you!!! And my husband thanks you!
January 25th, 2013 at 6:00 pm
I looooove Liege waffles. My husband and I lived in Belgium for almost 5 years and ate these reqularly. Hope people will go through the trouble of making them. It is definately worth it!
Mari @ Oh, Sweet & Savory says:
February 24th, 2013 at 9:23 am
I spent four months living in Brussels last year, and fell in love with their waffles (and chocolates, and mussels, and …). I cannot wait to try these!!
Lin Lin Shao says:
April 30th, 2013 at 12:59 am
i made these tasty waffles this weekend with my $20 cheap belgium iron from target. i actually had blue bottle waffles in the SF ferry bldg….eh. these are much better bc i added extra sugar!! 2Tbs white sugar in the batter, 5Tbs pearl sugar once risen, and then sprinkled extra brown + white sugar prior to closing the iron. the results: caramelized crispy exterior, custardy cakey interior. thanks so much for sharing the recipe!!
July 8th, 2013 at 3:50 pm
Oooh lived in NL’s for 4 years and missing these! They are delicious!
February 8th, 2016 at 7:08 am
Could I ask for your preference for a Belgian waffle maker? I haven’t had a lot of luck with waffle makes so far…
Bluey Botelle says:
April 17th, 2016 at 2:38 am
This recipe is amazing and foolproof! I made these for my friends when they came over once and now it’s a tradition. I love the convenience of being able to mix the batter the night before and cook in the morning. Thank you for making my waffle dreams a reality!