The summer after I graduated from college,  I went backpacking around Europe by myself. As you can imagine, my parents weren’t thrilled by the idea of their only daughter off gallivanting  through the wilds of western Europe, warding off Italian men, hot tubbing with rock stars (true story!) and generally taking life as it comes. Well, I’m a planner, so the whole taking life as it comes thing didn’t last too long, but the rest still applied.

As you can imagine, I ate a lot of really great food while I was wandering around. I wasn’t eating in fancy restaurants or staying in swanky hotels (with some exceptions. thank you dad.) but I found great food everywhere I went. When I was in Venice, I got a collection of meat, cheese, bread and fruit (and a chocolate tart) and sat in the window of my room on the top floor of the hostel, read a mystery novel that took place there and munched on that amazing spread. In Nice I drank wine and kissed a boy on the rocky beach. In Munich I drank beer, ate strudel and was force fed Greek food by my friend’s family. In Brussels I discovered the Leige Waffle.

Most folks have had a belgian waffle at some time or another, but the leige waffle is a whole other ballgame. It’s actually a little more like a doughnut than what we think of as waffles: much heavier than the belgian waffle and coated in a sticky caramelized coating of sugar. They serve it on the streets, covered in chocolate, whipped cream and any other sweetness you can think of, but I like them plain. They were so good they even made up for the creepy hotel manager who locked the front door to the hostel and made me slow dance with him to the song Unbreak My Heart. No joke. Traumatized, I immediately fled for London. With a waffle or two in tow, of course.

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2 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp Sugar
1 package Yeast (1/4 oz)
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Salt
3 Eggs
1/3 C Water, lukewarm
1 C Butter, melted
1 C Belgian Pearl Sugar*, more if desired.

* A note regarding belgian pearl sugar. Apparently this is the secret key to success when it comes to the leige waffle. When the waffle iron is the correct temperature, it will melt the little bits of sugar, creating pockets of sweetness inside the waffle and that lovely sticky coating on the outside. I’ve read that you can try to substitute chunked sugar cubes, but that they don’t work as well because they dissolve into the dough. You can order the special swanky sugar on Amazon.

 

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Start by combining the warm water, sugar and salt with the yeast and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Make sure that the water doesn’t go above about 110 degrees Fahrenheit or you’ll end up killing off your yeast.

 

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While the yeast is developing, measure the flour out into the bowl of your stand mixer. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour the yeast mixture in. Mix on medium speed until well combined.

 

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Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing each until incorporated. Add the melted butter, a little bit at a time, and then the cinnamon and vanilla. By this point the batter will be very sticky and thick.

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Cover the batter to prevent it from forming a skin and tuck away for it to rise and double in volume (start checking after about 30 minutes).

When the batter has doubled, fold in the belgian pearl sugar and set aside for another 15 minutes.

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Start heating up the waffle iron. I use a stove top iron, but an electric iron should work just fine. I brushed a light coat of oil onto the iron before cooking with it.

 

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Scoop out a chunk of dough about 2″ in diameter and drop it in one of the waffle squares. Repeat for the other squares and then close the iron. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then flip the iron to cook the other side for a few minutes. The timing is really going to depend on your waffle iron and/or stove top, which is why I can’t give you more exact times.

 

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When the waffle has finished cooking, lift the lid and take out the waffle. Be careful of your fingers! Caramelized sugar is hot!

 

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Repeat with the remaining batter and enjoy. They actually freeze pretty well. Just take them out of the oven and toss in the toaster oven when you’re in the mood! Although I have to admit that when I froze my extras, I pretty much ate them all over the next two days. So addictive.

 

I picked up this recipe from the blog Whipped: food, drink and conversation from around the table. Go check it out!

 

Leige Waffles
 
Recipe By:
Ingredients
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 1½ tbsp Sugar
  • 1 package Yeast (1/4 oz)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • ¾ tsp Cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • ⅓ C Water, lukewarm
  • 1 C Butter, melted
  • 1 C Belgian Pearl Sugar*, more if desired.
Instructions
  1. Start by combining the warm water, sugar and salt with the yeast and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Make sure that the water doesn't go above about 110 degrees Fahrenheit or you'll end up killing off your yeast.
  2. While the yeast is developing, measure the flour out into the bowl of your stand mixer. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour the yeast mixture in. Mix on medium speed until well combined.
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing each until incorporated. Add the melted butter, a little bit at a time, and then the cinnamon and vanilla. By this point the batter will be very sticky and thick.
  4. Cover the batter to prevent it from forming a skin and tuck away for it to rise and double in volume (start checking after about 30 minutes).
  5. When the batter has doubled, fold in the belgian pearl sugar and set aside for another 15 minutes.
  6. Start heating up the waffle iron. I use a stove top iron, but an electric iron should work just fine. I brushed a light coat of oil onto the iron before cooking with it.
  7. Scoop out a chunk of dough about 2" in diameter and drop it in one of the waffle squares. Repeat for the other squares and then close the iron. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then flip the iron to cook the other side for a few minutes. The timing is really going to depend on your waffle iron and/or stove top, which is why I can't give you more exact times.
  8. When the waffle has finished cooking, lift the lid and take out the waffle. Be careful of your fingers! Caramelized sugar is hot!
  9. Repeat with the remaining batter and enjoy.