Wednesday, March 25, 2009

gaufre de liege

Every street fair I've been to in Switzerland and beyond serves up Gaufre de Liege, the dense, chewy, yeasty Belgium waffles (not the light and crispy ones), served with a sprinkling of powdered sugar and sometimes a side of ice cream. I can't resist them and am never satisfied with just one (especially when I have to share with my two boys).

So I hunted down some recipes and settled the one that appeared most frequently, although it seemed absolutely ridiculous - 2 packages of yeast for only 1 3/4 cup flour??? I saw version of this recipe with same yeast with only 1 cup??? Plus, the dough is supposed to be more substantial than batter, like a brioche dough that you can form into loose balls. The proportions of liquid to flour did not add up. I followed the recipe as is and the resulting batter was much too loose to form into anything but a puddle and it was so yeasty, it tasted like beer. I was very worried. All signs pointed to no.

But amazingly, they were practically perfect in every way. Dense and light at the same time and only a hint of yeastiness just like the commercial versions. The secret is the pearl sugar (Hagelzucker in Switzerland) mixed into the batter at the last minute - it caramelizes against the waffle iron, creating its own sticky syrup.

Thanks Megan for letting me use your waffle iron!

The recipe below was originally published in The Boston Globe.

2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 egg, beaten

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and the sugar; set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy.

2. Sift the remaining flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and egg. With a wooden spoon, stir well to make a smooth batter.

3. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 2 hours to rise until the batter has doubled or tripled in bulk.

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup pearl sugar

1. In a bowl with a wooden spoon, work the butter, flour, vanilla, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar, and pearl sugar into a paste.

2. Work the butter mixture into the sponge mixture until well combined. Cover, and set aside for 10 minutes.

3. With floured hands, shape the dough into 10 balls. Flatten one slightly and dust it with flour. (If the dough seems too wet to handle, that's OK. Pour the batter directly onto the waffle iron.)

4. Heat a waffle iron until medium hot. Place a flattened ball in the middle of the iron; close the top. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. If the waffle iron is too hot, the sugar will burn. Some electric waffle irons bake on such a high temperature, it may be necessary to unplug the waffle iron intermittently to cool it off. Continue baking until all the waffles are done.

My note: despite its perfectness, I would be curious to see what happens with only one packet of yeast and a bit more flour.


Alice said...

Please move back here and we can cook for each other!

Jenna said...

OK, so I too was so concerned when the dough tasted like horrible beer flavor. The end result was surprisingly amazing. Addictive almost! Thanks for always trying awesome new things for me to eat too!

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness, i can TASTE the gaufres liegeoises here from your photo - there are few street foods that get me as excited as the real gaufres -- as you said, with those huge, snowy white sugar crystals inside. they make the regular "belgian waffles" you get in american diners look so sad and boring in comparison, just plain bready and not at all caramelized and irregular in shape like these. thanks for this post and the recipe -- just wish i had a waffle iron to make breakfast this morning!

however, i don't see gaufres at all the street fairs here as much as crepes and candied nuts... wish i did though. for me, i get mine plain -- and no boys i have to share it with ;) my husband gets his own, topped with Nutella. mmmmm!

Jenna said...

Nutella??? Why didn't we think of that? YUMMY!

next time

Astrid said...

Lovely! Thanks for trying this recipe out and letting us know your misgivings, that way the rest of us can proceed undaunted.

Julie said...

Yum, Yum! I love your recipes you come up with, they are always so delicious.

Unknown said...

I lived in Liege for a year and now that I am back in the States I do miss having a gaufre cannelle and a gaufre vanille. Thanks for providing a recipe for them, now I'm off to try and replicate a gaufre!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the recipe. I will be sure to try it. I was wondering what type of pan you used? Where did you obtain it?

Tanya D said...

I used a "belgium waffle" iron from the US, the ones with deep pockets. My friend liked this recipe so much that she bought her own iron, the Krups Expert Belgian Waffle Maker, which is great. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any for sale in Switzerland - hard to find here.

P.S. I tried the recipe with only one packed of yeast and it works great.

Eric said...

Thanks so much for posting this recipe and your experience with it. I've been on a quest for this for years since living in Mons, Belgium.

I've been searching for pearl sugar Stateside without much luck. Is this a brown sugar by chance?

Tanya D said...

Pearl sugar is not brown (aka molasses) sugar or raw sugar (which is also brown). Pearl sugar is a big white ball of sugar. It doesn't melt into the batter until you bake the waffle, so you get some caramelization on the outside of the waffle. So perhaps you might get the same effect with large crystal raw sugar. Good luck!

Eric said...

I found crystal sugar at a local gourmet store. Just made the first gaufre of the batch and it's perfect! The real thing. All is now right with the world.

Thanks for the recipe.

Nella said...

Thanks for posting this recipe. I just got a waffle maker and was looking for a recipe identical to that of the belgian waffles I used to eat in Brussels.

Do you know where I can buy Belgian Pearl Sugar out here in Zurich?

Nella said...

Thanks for posting this recipe.I can't wait until I try my new waffle maker.

I'm curious to know if you'd know where I can buy Belgian Pearl Sugar out here in Zurich?

Solange said...

I buy the pearl sugar online and it is imported from Belgium.
this is the store link:
They also offer great waffles recipes. :)

tanya said...

Hi Nella - I just use the Hagelzucker available at Coop. I've never seen the Belgium pearl sugar so I don't know the difference between the two. But the Hagelzucker is big and inexpensive and makes very good waffles :)

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