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Leige Belgium Waffles!

April 27, 2014

Jim and I had traveled to Belgium 2 years ago and got to taste first hand what a Belgium waffle SHOULD taste like. And they are AMAZING! So damn good you don’t need any toppings for it. Yup, no butter, no syrup, no extra sugar, no fruit, just a plain waffle and it’s one of the best damn things you’ll ever taste. And unfortunately they are nearly impossible to find here in the states.

I was on a mission to recreate these REAL Belgium waffles to serve up while we watch our favorite Belgium bike race, Tour of Flanders. I did some internetin’ to try to find a legit recipe and came across this one where the lady obviously had spent some serious time developing it. So I gave it a go. Unfortunately I didn’t realize how much time it took to make and started it late the night before so Jim and I took shifts in the middle of the night tackling the refrigeration and stiring the dough down steps 6 hours into the process. But, all worth while.

There’s a couple of main differences between REAL Belgium waffles and waffles you get/make here over in the states:
1) REAL Belgium waffle is prepared like a dough, it is NOT liquidy like we normally see pancake/waffle batter. Because it’s a dough it requires time to rise and rest.
2) Real Belgium waffles use pearl sugar. Pearl sugar is condensed roundish sugar about the size of a pearl. You might think of a round sugar cube, but pearl sugar melts at a much higher temperature than a sugar cube.  The pearl sugar gives a nice crunch to things you bake since it doesn’t dissolve readily and sort of carmelize in the iron. This is a KEY ingredient and totally makes the dish. They are incredible hard to find and not cheap. After my 3rd high end (yuppie as my dad would say) grocery store I was able to find it at Whole Foods. Yup, not cheap…but totally worth it.
3) As I stated before, REAL Belgium waffles do not need any toppings they are that good.

Have I built up the anticipation enough? Ok then, onto the recipe. I give 100% of the credit to the blogger.

Waffles 2

Difficulty: I’m gonna say difficult given the number of steps and duration and yeast is involved folks.  That’s always tricky!
Prep Time: 1/2 day
Cook Time: 2-3 minutes per waffle
Yield: 5 waffles
Taste: ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup scalded whole milk at 110-115 degrees
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. of water at 110-115 degrees
2 cups King Arthur Bread flour (found at Whole Foods)
1 large room temperature egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp light brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp soft room temperature unsalted butter
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup Belgian Pearl Sugar (also found at Whole Foods)

PROCEDURE:

1. Place yeast, milk, and water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir for a few seconds to moisten the yeast.

2. Add the egg and 2/3 of a cup of the flour. Mix to blend. Scrape down sides of bowl.

3. Sprinkle remaining 1 and 1/3 cups of flour over the mixture, but do not stir it in. Cover and let stand 75-90 minutes (at the end of that time, you’ll notice the batter bubbling up through the cover of flour).

4. Add brown sugar and salt to the stand mixer bowl. Mix on low speed (speed #2) – just to blend.

5. With machine on low, add honey and vanilla. Then add 2 Tbsp of butter at a time. Mix 4 minutes at medium-low speed; scrape down sides once or twice in that period. Let the dough rest for 1 minute and then continue to mix for 2 minutes. If you measured your ingredients perfectly, the dough will be sticking to the sides of the bowl in the last minute of mixing and then, in the last 30 seconds of so, will start to ball-up on the paddle. If this does not happen, let the dough rest for 1 more minute and mix for another 2 minutes.

6. Scrape the dough into a large bowl, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 4 hours. This step is crucial for developing the flavor.

7. REFRIGERATE FOR 30 MINUTES BEFORE PROCEEDING TO STEP #8. This is essential. The yeast respiration must be slowed before continuing.

8. Stir the dough down (meaning: gently deflate the gases from the dough, by pressing on it with a rubber spatula), scrape it onto a piece of plastic wrap, and then use the spatula to press the dough into a long rectangle. Fold that rectangle over on itself (by thirds – like a letter) so that you have a square of dough. Wrap it in plastic, weigh it down a bit (I put two heavy dinner plates on top of it) and refrigerate overnight.

9. The next day, place the cold dough (it will be quite firm) in a large bowl and add all of the pearl sugar to a bowl. It will seem like a lot of sugar, but it’s supposed to be. Mix it into the dough by hand until the chunks are well-distrubuted. Once mixed, divide the dough into 5 pieces of equal size.

10. Shape each chunk into an oval ball and let it rise (covered loosely in plastic wrap) for 90 minutes.

Waffle Dough Preped for Baking

Waffle Dough Preped for Baking

11. If you have a professional waffle iron (meaning: it’s cast iron and weighs over 20 pounds) cook at exactly 365-370 degrees (the max temp before sugar begins to burn/decompose) for approximately 2 minutes.  Give each waffle a few minutes to cool slightly before eating. If you have a regular waffle iron, heat the iron to 420 degrees (hint: many regular waffle irons go up to and over 550 degrees at their highest setting) , place the dough on the iron, and immediately unplug it or turn the temp dial all the way down. Otherwise, the sugar will burn. An infrared thermometer is handy here. The iron’s temperature is crucial in making the perfect waffle.  The sugar has a very narrow range where it will caramelize and not burn.  You can make do without one though. It may take some trial and error to get it right.

Waffles 3

Last Step (according to Ham Porter - The Sandlot): Then you scarf!

Last Step (according to Ham Porter – The Sandlot): Then you scarf!

Source: http://liegewaffle.wordpress.com/liege-waffle-recipe-liege-gaufre-recette/

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