This Liege waffle recipe without pearl sugar allows us to enjoy Belgian waffles without the hassle of buying Belgian pearl sugar.
Belgian Waffles in American
While American waffles have a long and storied history in the United States, we owe Maurice Vermersch, an enterprising Belgian, for the re-introduction of Belgian-style waffles to America a the World’s Fair in 1964. Vermersch set up a waffle stand. He used his wife’s yeast-based waffles, and sold his waffles topped with whipped cream and strawberries for a dollar. Americans loved Vermersch’s waffles. Vermersch originally referred to his waffles as “Brussels Waffles” (to distinguish them from Liege style). He quickly realized, however, that most Americans had no idea where Brussels was, so renamed the treats “Belgian” waffles. The same, presumably, still holds true of Liege. Liege is a tiny town on the Wallon, or Dutch-speaking, side of Belgium.
Belgian cooks leaven their waffles with yeast and throw in a good deal of butter, making them almost like a toasted brioche. American waffles, in contrast, contain baking powder and/or egg whites and tend to be relatively light. A traditional Belgian waffle iron also has deeper pockets than its American counterpart. If you don’t already own one, however, you don’t need to buy one for this recipe.
Enough about the Belgians! What are Liege Waffles?
The Liegois (inhabitants of Liege) developed a remarkably efficient method for sweetening their waffles. They mixed the rich yeasted dough with pearl sugar, small balls of compressed sugar before cooking. When the pearl sugar comes into contact with the hot waffle iron, it caramelizes. The outside of Liege waffles are crunch and sweet. Since you may have a hard time finding Belgian pearl sugar, we’re making this Liege waffle recipe without pearl sugar. If you really want to be authentic, order your Belgian pearl sugar ahead from Amazon or specialty stores. Be careful, however, not to confuse it with Swedish pearl sugar, which is smaller and used for topping baked goods.
These Belgian liege waffles are very rich, so you won’t need more than one per person. They have a very distinct and special flavor, making them perfect for a celebratory event like Christmas morning.
Looking for more waffle ideas? Check these out:
Useful Tools in Making This Recipe
You’ll need a waffle iron to make this recipe. Need to buy one? Be sure to check out our Top 7 Criteria in Buying a Waffle Maker!
Here were the two winning waffle makers:
Liege Waffle Recipe Without Pearl Sugar
- Waffle Iron
- 1/2 tbsp active dry yeast (not instant yeast)
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 3/8 cup milk warmed to 110-115 F
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 3/4 cups bread flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup sugar cubes
- Place yeast, sugar and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment attached and proof yeast 5-10 minutes.
- Add egg, vanilla, honey, 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture and beat on low speed until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment. Add butter 4 tbsp at a time, kneading until totally incorporated.
- Add the rest of the flour and knead 5-10 minutes.
- Cover and let the yeast dough rise in a warm place covered in a light cloth until doubled in size, around 2 hours.
- Knock the dough down and wrap in plastic wrap 2-3 times. Let the dough rest overnight in the refrigerator.
- The next day, let the dough come to room temperature for about an hour. While the dough warms, put the sugar cubes in a small Ziploc bag. Bash with a rolling pin until the cubes turn into small pieces, no larger than 1/8 of an inch.
- Knead the sugar into the Belgian waffle dough. Now you have liege waffle dough on your hands! Once mixed, divide the dough into 6 dough balls of equal size.
- Cook in a waffle iron on medium heat (we used level 4 of 6 on our Waring waffle iron) for several minutes, or until a rich golden brown in color.
- Give each waffle a few minutes to cool slightly before eating – the caramelized sugar on the exterior will be very hot.
- If you are baking for a crowd, keep waffles warm on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 200 degrees F.
- These waffles are delicious topped with a poached egg and melted gruyere for a sweet and savory breakfast.
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