We love Belgium and travel there quite frequently. If you are a beer-lover this is the place to be - thousands of different beer types on draught. Once you have had Leffe Blonde Draught there is no going back to imported bottles. Chocolate is the other obvious reason together with jazz and piano bars in Antwerp and Brussels.
Bruges and surroundings are probably our favourite place to be - especially the countryside. The region is flat, so it’s super easy to cycle around (you may land in Holland without even noticing), with plenty of little pubs on the way.
If you have ever tried Belgian waffles you probably had best waffles you have ever tasted. No wonder. These chunky, crisp, buttery waffles with hints of caramel flavour and characteristic uneven edges are truly exceptional. What makes authentic Belgian waffles so unforgettable? Firstly, these waffles are yeasted which means that the carrier of crispiness comes from naturally leavened dough. Secondly, the dough uses same proportions as Brioche - which means that the dough is butter-heavy and technique involves softened butter being slowly kneaded into the dough which in turn contributes to crisp texture. Kneading here means simply patting the dough for few minutes until elastic and shiny texture is formed. Thirdly, what separates these waffles from your regular non-yeasted waffles is the use of pearl sugar. This chunky type of sugar, when heated up in the waffle maker, creates lovely caramel flavour adding again to the crispiness of Belgian waffles.
What we found over the years is that thanks to ratios (similar to Brioche - 1:2, butter to flour), you can quickly prepare buttery waffle dough and refrigerate overnight, then in the morning shortly work in pearl sugar and prepare mini waffle dough balls which then need only 1 short rest. This way, waffles are extra crisp (overnight rest) but also the rest time is cut in half (only 1 rest needed). You will find that most of waffle points in Belgium let the dough rest overnight - exactly like in the recipe. If you want to prepare your waffles immediately (and go through 2 rests) - we have this option covered in Hints too.
It’s worth to add that Belgian waffles keep fresh for longer in comparison to regular non-yeasted waffles. In non-yeasted version, waffles are going soft after 2-3 hours. Belgian waffles keep fresh, crisp skin for up to 2 days and can be reheated in the waffle maker.
Belgian waffles are really filling (1 or 2 per person is probably max serving), so it’s worth taking that into account preparing the portion (recipe below yields some 15 waffles). Frozen dough balls can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months (more in Hints section below).
We are waffle fanatics and on our blog you can find few other versions of waffles:
Liège Waffles - Authentic Belgian Waffles Recipe
Yield: 15 waffles
Time: 20 minutes prep + overnight cooling + 30-45 minutes prep
Equipment: waffle maker
For yeast proofing:
- 180ml full-fat milk
- 1 pack active dry yeast (7g) or 20g active bulk dry yeast
- 3 Tablespoons (45g) white granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon (10g) all-purpose flour
For the Dough:
- 3 cups* (450g) all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 225g unsalted butter, softened and diced
- 1 cup pearl sugar
*cup = 250ml cup
1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot mix milk with sugar and warm up to 38-40C making sure the sugar is fully dissolved. Add active dry yeast, stir in until combined. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of flour on top (no need to stir) and cover tightly with dry kitchen towel or cling film. Move the pot to the warm place for 15 minutes. After that time you should see the mixture foaming/bubbling up. If you don’t, you will need to repeat the step.
2. Prepare the dough: In your main bowl mix in flour with yeast mixture (from Step 1), add eggs and mix for 2 minutes until roughly combined. Start adding softened butter (add in 3 turns) and knead for 8-10 minutes until all butter is fully incorporated. Kneading here means simply patting the dough in a bowl until it becomes elastic and pulls away from your hand. If you work with stand mixer knead with dough hook attachment on low-medium speed for 10 minutes. You know the dough is ready when it becomes shiny, elastic and pulls away from your hand - the dough will still be a little bit sticky (full of butter) but should easily pull away from your hand. Transfer the dough to bowl lightly brushed with sunflower or olive oil. Cover tightly with dry kitchen towel or cling film and refrigerate overnight. The dough will be thick in the morning (and that’s OK) - add pearl sugar and knead for 1 minute to fully incorporate.
3. Shape waffles: Once you incorporate pearl sugar, create log shape and cut vertically into 2cm thin pieces, then form little dough balls and place on the work surface (or baking tray), cover with kitchen towel. Transfer dough balls into warm place for 30-45 minutes (1 rest only). The waffle balls will puff up (but don’t expect them to double in size - and that’s OK). Preheat the waffle maker and once ready bake according to instructions. Baked waffles are slightly soft at first, place baked waffles on the cooling rack for 2-4 minutes to allow waffles to crisp up and set before serving.
1. Overnight vs. prepared immediately - if you opt to prepare waffles on the same day: after preparing the dough cover the bowl tightly with cling film and allow 1 hour rest in warm place (1st rest), after that time you can proceed to Step 3 (shape waffles).
2. Overnight rest - for some yeasted dough we suggest to place the dough in the morning in warm oven. We don’t recommend to do that for this bake. You want the butter to keep intact (to warm up only slightly) and for yeast to start working its magic slowly (puffing up the dough balls slightly - the dough balls will puff up but don’t expect them to double in size). It’s harder to control that aspect when warming up the dough in the oven (oven may be too warm and butter will melt impacting waffle texture). This is not an issue when you add melted butter (which we saw in many online recipes for this type of waffle). However, to get crispy and buttery authentic waffle we recommend to treat the dough same as Brioche - slowly work in softened butter to get buttery layers in the dough (which, if heated up too much, will melt).
3. Storage - biggest advantage is that waffles keep crisp and fresh for longer than non-yeasted waffles (up to 2 days). You can freeze baked waffles (thaw slightly in the fridge then heat up in the waffle maker) or formed, unbaked dough balls, for up to 3 months. If you decide to freeze unbaked dough balls - place in the freezing bag and refrigerate for 15 minutes before freezing (this way the dough balls won't stick together), when ready to bake thaw in the fridge and then allow for 30-45 minutes rise before baking.
4. Waffle maker - make sure you use waffle maker with at least 1000W power (the heavier and more powerful, the better).