I tried my first Liège-style waffle on a childhood vacation to Quebec. That crispy sugar, that sweet and malty dough – my family talked about it for years, and tried to recreate it at home with mixed results.
The trick is using the correct sugar. Pearl sugar has pea-sized pieces of sugar, hard but not so hard you break your teeth. They melt and caramelize in the recipe, creating sugary pockets throughout the waffle.
I usually buy Lars Own Pearl Sugar since it’s widely available and works well. I’ve tried several recipes but my favorite is the recipe on the back of the package with slight adaptations.
My waffle iron of choice is an early 80s hand-me-down from my parents, a “Belgian Waffler by Munsey.” There’s nothing special about this model that makes it perfect for Liege waffles, though maybe its lack of temperature control allows for better caramelization. In any case, I don’t mind mucking it up as I would a fancier waffle iron, and you can get one for around $20 on eBay.
Recipe: Liège Waffles (Belgian Sugar Waffles)
Summary: Adapted from the Lars Own recipe
- 3½ cups flour
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 oz pearl sugar (1 bag if using Lars Own)
- Heat the milk in the microwave for about 45 seconds until it is lukewarm (around 110 degrees – don’t overheat it).
- Dissolve the yeast in the milk, and let sit for 5 minutes until it gets frothy.
- Put the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. You can also mix this dough by hand, but it gets sticky.
- Slowly mixing, add the milk/yeast, then butter, then eggs.
- Cover the mixer bowl with a tea towel or paper towel, and let the dough rise for 30 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size.
- Mix in the pearl sugar – you can use the mixer, but it’s also easy to do by hand because the dough won’t be as sticky.
- Form around 20 to 24 small balls of dough (they can be rough) and put them on a baking sheet to rest. I usually let them rise for another half hour, but you can skip this if you’re in a hurry.
- Cook the dough in a Belgian (large-holed) waffle maker for about four minutes, depending on your iron. The waffles will be crispy and lightly browned, with the sugar slightly caramelized.