Liège waffles (Gaufres de Liège) are amazing. They are made with a batter similar to brioche dough, containing pearl sugar that caramelizes on the outside when baked. Inside, they are rich, thick, dense, sweet and chewy, with pockets of sugar. They can be made plain, with vanilla, or with cinnamon, and they can be served plain, with warm cherries and whipped cream, or with other sauces/garnishes. In Belgium (and sometimes in the Netherlands) you can buy these as street food. Because they are so rich, they are very filling. They are great as an indulgent lunch, as an afternoon snack after a long walk in the snow, or as dessert after a very light main. Or of course, when you fancy them.
Just as with a sugar loaf, you need pearl sugar for this recipe. It is available online and in some stores, if you can’t find it you can use tiny sugar cubes as substitute, or you can smash up normal sugar cubes. Also, making this recipe by hand is possible, but it takes lots of elbow grease and makes quite a mess (video which shows the technique of kneading wet/sticky dough), it is even worse than normal sticky dough (like ciabatta) because of the egg and the butter and the almost-batter consistency, so I use a mixer. It is best to use a real Liège waffle maker, which can be turned over, but I’ve made it in my standard waffle maker and it turned out fine. Your waffle maker does need to have enough space for the dough to get the thickness and chewiness it needs, so a waffle maker that makes thin waffles will not work.
Liege waffles with warm cherry sauce and whipped cream (serves 6, size and amound of waffles depends on your waffle maker – real Liège waffle makers usually make quite large waffles)
Adapted from Butter Baking
1/2 packet of dry yeast
1/6 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 cups flour
110 g butter, softened
1/3 cup of pearl sugar
1 jar of pitted cherries on juice
corn starch (10 g per 400 ml juice)
250 ml whipping cream
1.5 tbsp sugar
Place flour in a large bowl, add the yeast, sugar, salt and water. Use a mixer with a dough hook to knead for 5 minutes. Then add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated. Next, add the butter about 2 tbsp at a time, each time mixing until incorporated. Finally, mix for another 2 minutes to ensure that everything is mixed well. It should look like a quite liquid brioche dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it doubles in size (about 1.5 hours).
Gently mix in the pearl sugar and let it rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your waffle maker.
Once the waffle maker is hot and the dough rested, scoop a couple of tablespoons of dough onto each waffle plate. Cook the waffles for about 5 minutes, until golden brown, crunchy and caramelized. Turn the waffle maker halfway if you have the real Liège waffle maker. Repeat to use up all the batter.
Meanwhile, separate the cherries and the juice and measure how much juice you have. Calculate how much corn starch you need (10 g per 400 ml juice), measure it out in a small cup, add a splash of the juice and mix well. Bring the rest of the juice to the boil, add the cornstarch in a small stream while mixing, add the cherries and bring to the boil again, then turn of the heat. Whip the cream with the sugar, and the vanilla if using.
Serve the waffles with a spoonful of cherry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. I like the waffles best when they are freshly baked and still warm, but they are still very delicious when cold.