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Liege Sugar Waffles with Pearl Sugar

Yields about 7 6-inch waffles     adjust servings

Liege waffles are made with a brioche-like yeast dough and are studded with pearl sugar. Pearl sugar is basically a small chunk of sugar that holds its shape as the waffles cooks, leaving you with gloriously crunchy bites of sugar. You can buy these on the street in Belgium and Norway. They make regular waffles look like amateurs. 

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, warm but not hot
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, very very soft
  • 1 and 3/4 cup pearl sugar*
  • powdered sugar, for rolling dough

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, add 4 cups of flour, spooned and leveled.
  2. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 and 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, add 1 cup whole milk. Heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds and stir. It should be nice and warm, but not hot. Heat for another few seconds or stick in the fridge for a minute if it doesn't feel nice and lukewarm.
  5. Add the warm milk to the well in the center of the flour. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast. Add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir the liquid with a small spoon. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. When you come back, the yeast should look nice and frothy. (If it doesn't, wait another 5 minutes, and if you still don't see any growth from the yeast, toss it all and start over because it's dead, YOU KILLED IT. But it's okay. Don't cry over spilled milk OR dead yeast, just try again.)
  7. Once you're sure your yeast is alive and well, crack 2 eggs into the milk. Break up the eggs with a fork and whisk them into the milk lightly with a fork.
  8. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract to the liquid.
  9. Use a spoon or beaters to stir the flour and the liquid together. (I actually hold my dough hook in my hand and stir a couple times, but only because I hate extra dishes.)
  10. Switch to the dough hook (or start kneading with your hands.) Knead with the dough hook until the dough has come together completely.
  11. With the mixer running on low or medium low, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait until the butter is incorporated into the dough before adding the next tablespoon. Yes, add the full cup of butter. It's what makes this dough so thick and brioche like, with a stretchy soft center that is unlike any waffle you've ever had! The process of adding the butter should take at least 5 minutes.
  12. Once all the butter is incorporated, continue kneading with the dough hook for about 3 minutes.
  13. Scrape the dough down and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let rest for 30 minutes. (I like to turn my oven on to 350 for about 1 minute and then turn it off, then let the dough rest inside. Make sure the oven is not hot. You should be able to touch the rack with your fingers.)
  14. Prepare a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (I love my Silpat) or spray the pan generously with nonstick spray.
  15. Once the dough has rested 30 minutes, add 1 and 3/4 cup pearl sugar. Stir it in with a spatula.
  16. Use your hands to divide the dough into about 7 sections. Each section should be about 7 ounces, give or take. You don't need to roll it into a ball or anything special. Place each section of dough on the prepared baking sheet, with plenty of space in between each one.
  17. Spray some plastic wrap with nonstick spray. Cover the dough loosely with the plastic.
  18. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  19. Preheat your waffle iron. I love my Presto Flip Side waffle maker. You could even make these waffles in a non-Belgian waffle iron, but I do think it's better when the waffles are thicker for this recipe.
  20. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees F (the keep warm setting). Place a wire cooling rack in the oven.
  21. In a medium bowl, add some powdered sugar. Roll one section of dough generously in the powdered sugar.** There is no need to grease the iron. Place it directly in the center of your waffle iron and press the top down firmly. Leave it in the waffle iron for 2-5 minutes, depending on how hot your waffle iron is. The waffle is done when the edges are a deep golden brown.
  22. Remove the waffle with a fork and transfer to the wire rack in the oven. Be careful!! The edges of these waffles are caramelized and they are HOT.
  23. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. It's great with strawberries or Nutella. I prefer minimal toppings for Liege waffles, and say no to maple syrup. I mean you can, I just feel like it takes away from the yeasty caramely flavor that is what makes Liege waffles so glorious. Make sure you serve these warm. The outer edges are caramelized and will crisp up quite a bit if they are not warm. Reheating in the microwave is fine. 
  24. There is going to be a lot of sugar on your waffle iron when you're done. Warm water is your best option here! And maybe a soft brush or washcloth. 

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