These Belgian Liege Waffles are truly lifechanging - crispy and caramelized on the outside, chewy in the middle, and a 100 times better than buttermilk waffles. Seriously, once you try them, there's no going back. And while you may be intimidated by them, I am here to tell you they are incredibly easy to make, no more difficult than regular waffles, and you should absolutely have a go at them.
I was first introduced to Liege Waffles by the famous Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco. I know, it doesn't feel very authentic to say I love Belgian waffles from an American café chain, but Blue Bottle waffles have a cult following for a reason. They are made fresh, and are unbelievably delicious. Since trying them, I have had Liege waffles from different places, including the famous Zinneken's in Boston and many popular spots in Europe, and wanted to create my own recipe so you guys can try them, too! This recipe creates the most incredible Liege waffles, which feel to me like an exact copycat of the Blue Bottle Liege waffles.
WHAT ARE BELGIAN LIEGE WAFFLES?
Belgian waffles originate from Belgium (obviously) and are generally characterized by their deeper pockets compared to American waffles, which can hold different toppings and fillings such as ganache, syrups, and jams.
Belgian Liege waffles are a subcategory of Belgian waffles. They come from the city of Liege, and date all the way back to the Middle Ages! Unlike traditional Belgian waffles, which are made from a batter-like mixture, Liege waffles are made with a yeast-leavened dough infused with chunks of pearl sugar. Since they're made with a dough instead of a batter, they have more bite and structure to them, with a delicious chewy texture which makes them significantly better than regular waffles. In addition, the pearl sugar gives them a caramelized, crisp golden exterior which is truly a delight for the taste buds. They are enjoyed as a breakfast dish or as a dessert, and can be savored on their own or dressed up with an array of delicious toppings like fresh fruits, whipped cream, chocolate, or maple syrup.
BELGIAN WAFFLE MAKER
In order to make Belgian waffles with their deeper pockets, it is essential to use a Belgian waffle maker which has deeper grooves in. It doesn't have to be expensive - the one I use is from Amazon and cost only $24.99 on Amazon and works like a charm. You can find it here.
Belgian Liege waffles require basic pantry ingredients, with the exception of the pearl sugar which you might need to purchase specifically for them. Here's the full list (scroll down to the recipe card for exact quantities):
- Whole milk, warm. The milk should be warm to touch, about 110F, but not hot or scalding
- Active dry yeast
- Brown sugar
- Unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- Pearl sugar - this is probably the most important, characteristic ingredient in Liege waffles. I use Lars Pearl Sugar, which is imported from Belgium. You can get an 8oz bag for under $10 here
HOW TO MAKE BELGIAN LIEGE WAFFLES (BLUE BOTTLE COPYCAT)
This recipe itself is really simple! Here's what you need to do:
1. Prepare the dough
Add the warm milk, yeast and brown sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk and wait for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate. Then add the flour, egg, salt, and vanilla, and knead for 3-5 minutes on medium high speed, until a dough forms.
Then, add the unsalted butter, and knead again for about 5 minutes until the butter is incorporated a loose, soft dough is formed. Adding butter in a second step during the kneading process gives the dough a laminated texture similar to brioche, giving the waffles a delicious bite.
2. Proof the dough
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 45-60 minutes in a warm place until it doubles in size.
3. Incorporate the pearl sugar
At this point, the dough will be ultra soft. Transfer it to a clean surface lightly dusted with flour, and flatten it out with your hands. Sprinkle over half of the pearl sugar, and roll up the dough. Then bring it into a ball and repeat, incorporating the other half of the pearl sugar.
You can really use any technique that works for you to incorporate the pearl sugar evenly in the dough, but I find that this flattening and rolling technique is the easiest way to do so!
4. Cook the waffles
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. They don't need to be perfectly shaped (in fact, I like Liege waffles to be irregularly shaped).
Pre-heat your waffle maker for 5-10 minutes. Then place one piece of the dough in it, and press down until the waffle maker closes. Cook the waffles for about 6 minutes until they are a lovely golden color and cooked through.
Tip: The exact time to cook the waffles will vary depending on your waffle maker. Use the first waffle as a test, and adjust the temperature and time accordingly. If you find that your waffle colors too quickly, it is a sign that you need to reduce the temperature. If it is not picking up color a few minutes in, you need to increase the temperature. With my waffle maker, the medium heat setting seemed to work best, for about 6-7 minutes per waffle.
5. Serve and enjoy!!
These Belgian Liege waffles are best eaten fresh and warm. I love eating them on their own (no syrup is needed since they have pearl sugar inside), but you can also get fancy and drizzle them with Nutella and fresh berries if you like!
If you absolutely cannot eat the waffles fresh, you can store them in the fridge for 2-3 days, and reheat in the oven before eating. Their texture won't be perfect, but they will still be great!
If you enjoy this recipe, I also recommend checking out some other dessert-for-breakfast recipes of mine:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you can use the same quantity of instant yeast, and skip the step of activating the yeast in warm milk. Simply combine the ingredients and knead.
I do not recommend substituting the pearl sugar, as that is a key ingredient in Liege waffles. However, if you don't have any choice, you can use sugar in the form of larger grains.
Yes, you can, but note that the dough is quite sticky and might be challenging to work with. I recommend starting with a large wooden spoon, and then turn out the dough onto your counter and use a push / pull motion to knead it until it loses its stickiness. It will be quite messy when you're incorporating the butter, and using a dough scraper can make the process a bit easier.
This comes down to the settings of your waffle iron. Since all waffle irons are different, I cannot give you an exact time or setting. I suggest using the first waffle as a test, and using it to adjust the temperature and timing of the remaining waffles. Perfectly cooked Liege waffles should have a crispy, caramelized crust, and a soft chewy center.
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