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.
I just came back from a two week trip to Germany with so many images and places stuck in my mind.
This Athena bust is a Roman copy of a Greek statue from around 400 BC. Her power rushes across the room and punches me in the heart.
How could someone in a world so different from mine – with different parameters, knowledge, struggles – produce this work that strikes me so deeply? It’s evidence of a human condition universal across time and place, and I don’t even mean that in a warm and fuzzy way.
Then this torso – I am angered by the Christian vandalism, parts removed and chest carved with crosses. I write down the saying on the outside of the sister museum, “Artem non odit nisi ignarus” (only the ignorant hate art). I am disgusted by the idea of original sin and its self-hatred.
But a few days later, I am taken by the sweet smell of incense in a giant stone cathedral, floored by the melancholy organ.
We visit high-vaulted brick churches and I think how transformative it would have been to stand in the same place in 1300, to be bathed in music and mystery for the first time. Later, I learn that their construction created wastelands as nearby forests were decimated to keep the fires burning to bake bricks. It is all so complicated. In young America, it’s easy to think that it’s not.
No photo of the primitive weapons from Germany in the first century AD, but you’ve seen their kind. Surely they saw some brutal fights. Did any of my ancestors use weapons like these? Suddenly I am overwhelmed with the many lives and struggles and fragile coincidences that led to my existence, and I remind myself again (as I do every day) never to waste it.
We went on an amazing trip to the Galapagos last month. We saw and did so much, I knew I had to keep a journal to remember everything. Some of my fellow travelers asked me to scan it, so I figured why not share with the internet too? (Click for an interactive version).
I love to keep a paper journal but it’s been difficult to find the time in the last few years, so I relished the chance to spend a computer-less vacation with pens and paper. The notebook is made by Michael Roger and the markers are Staedtler Triplus Fineliners (both found at the Brown Bookstore during a quick lunchtime shopping spree). I have very little drawing experience and sometimes I feel held back by a perfectionism which I have little chance of achieving, so I ONLY brought pens, no pencils. If I made a mistake, I made a mistake – it was freeing and fun.
I thought the journal might be interesting to anyone considering a trip to the Galapagos who wants to get an idea of what it’s like. You have to visit the islands with a guide, so an organized trip is the best way to go. Our trip was organized by Beyond Your Backyard Adventures, a small trip geared towards people who really want to get out and see everything (no whiners!) We had an amazing experience and are still working through thousands of photos.