In Belgium you do not only have the division between French and Flemish speakers. There is also the difference in opinion between the Brussels waffle fans and Liège waffles aficionados. Of course both parties have a point. The rectangular Brussels waffles are lighter, not so sweet and nice to eat warm with a big dollop of whipped cream, a handful of cherries and a dusting of icing sugar. But I prefer the heavier, sweeter Liège waffle with its soft inside and caramelized outside. The crunch of a half-melted piece of pearl sugar, the firm bite and sweet smell of the Liège waffle’s yeasty dough makes me happy! Waffles have been baked in Belgium since the Middle Ages, but the story goes that the Liège waffle was invented by the Prince of Liège’s cook in the 18th century. To please his sweet-toothed master he was the first to bake a yeasty dough with vanilla and pearl sugar in the traditional waffle iron. The sweet pastry soon became very popular in the Liège region.
My recipe does take time to make – you should really start a day ahead – but the long rise does make for a very tasty and beautifully textured dough. Not patient enough to wait? You can knead all the ingredients together and leave them to rise for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Divide the dough, mix in the pearl sugar and leave them to rise for another hour before baking. If you like this waffle, try my waffle variation with chocolate!
Liège waffle cookie from Belgium
for 6-10 cookies
50 milliliters (3 ⅓ tbs) full fat milk
50 milliliters (3 ⅓ tbs) water
260 grams (2 cups + 1 tbs) flour
1 large egg, at room temperature
5 grams dried instant yeast
25 grams (1 heaped tbs) light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
125 grams (9 tbs) butter, at room temperature
15 grams (1 tbs) honey
seeds of 1 vanilla pod
150 grams (¾ cups) pearl sugar
Heat the milk with the water until lukewarm. Pour in bowl and beat in 60 grams of the flour and the egg. Add the yeast and mix well.
Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour until little bubbles form.
Add the rest of the flour, the sugar and the salt and mix well with a electric mixer with dough hooks or in the stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
Mix in the honey and the vanilla seeds.
While kneading, add the butter in little knobs. When all the butter is mixed in, keep kneading for about 5 mins.
Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour.
Knock back the dough and form into a flat rectangle. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge under a wooden cutting board or a heavy plate for 8 hours or 1 night.
Divide the dough in 6 pieces for large waffles or 10 for smaller ones.
Divide the pearl sugar and knead through the dough. Form the pieces of dough into balls, cover loosely with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat the waffle iron to the middle setting and place a ball of dough in the centre of each mould. Close the iron and bake the waffles until golden brown and done in 2–5 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before serving: the sugar is hot!
This post is also available in: Dutch