I have a history of preferring turkey sandwiches and cold pasta for breakfast. Savory reigns in the morning. And I lived a number of years quite content with this, until one day I came face to face with a certain waffle.
The kind of waffle which wears a crisp outer jacket covering its delicate, chewy insides. Possessing crunchy burnt caramel pockets. And tasting ever so slightly of pretzel.
It borrows the satisfying crack of a crème brûlée and the chew from a fresh yeast roll. All the while never forgetting it’s a waffle. And reminding that Belgians don’t have to be slapped with whipped cream to be fun.
I’ve started to refer to the action of cooking them as “to waffle.” To Belgian waffle. As it ensures both breakfast and merriment occur.
To waffle an actual waffler is needed. And some yeast. And pearl sugar, which can be a bit persnickety to procure. Plus the restraint to wait overnight.
But to waffle is worth it. And the goods needed to do so can be ordered online. Breakfast will be filled with flour and joy and debatably unnecessary verbiage forevermore.
The Belgian Waffle
2 cups bread flour, divided
1 tsp instant dry yeast
¼ cup whole milk, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dark brown sugar
¾ tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup pearl sugar
The night before:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 2/3 cup of bread flour and the yeast. In a separate small bowl, mix together the milk, egg, and 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lukewarm water; add to the yeast mixture and stir to moisten. Sprinkle the remaining 1-1/3 cups of bread flour over the top, but do not mix it in. Cover and let sit for 60 to 90 minutes, until the batter just starts to bubble up at the edges of the bowl.
To the batter, add in the brown sugar and salt and (with the paddle attachment) mix on low until just combined. With the machine on low, add in the honey and vanilla, and then the butter 2 tbsp at a time. When the butter is incorporated and the mixture has come together, switch to a dough hook and mix on medium-low, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally. This will take 4 or 5 minutes. It is done when the dough stretches, rather than breaks.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
The day of:
About 2 to 3 hours before you want to eat waffles, take out the dough. Let it rest a few minutes, until it becomes just a little pliable; then use your hands to mix in the pearl sugar. Separate the dough into 6 equal pieces and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise. (The directions say this takes 1-1/2 hours, but I’ve found it takes closer to 2 to 2-1/2 hours in my house. It might be a little colder here. To speed up the process, place the sheet on top of a warm stove.)
When the dough is puffed up and soft and pillowy (see here), you are ready. Heat a stovetop waffle iron (aka the waffler), greased lightly with canola oil, on medium low for a few minutes (about 3) and then flip it and heat the other side for another minute or 2 more. (Have a regular iron? See here.) Add one dough ball to the center of the iron, close the iron, and cook for about a minute.
Take a peak inside, the waffle should have started to brown and should not stick to the iron. Flip the iron and continue to cook until the waffle is sufficiently golden and crispy. (Flip the pan again, if the other side needs more color.) If the waffles are browning too quickly, turn down the heat. The entire process should only take a few minutes.
Repeat with remaining dough balls. (You can keep the cooked waffles warm in a 200-degree oven until all are finished.)
Makes 6 waffles
-If you are in the market for a waffler, they are much cheaper on Amazon.
-I’ve successfully made this recipe with active dry yeast, too. You’ll need 1-1/3 tsp and you’ll have to bloom the yeast about 10 minutes in whole milk (same amount as listed) that has been heated to about 100 degrees. In this case, you’ll mix the bloomed yeast with the water and egg mixture before adding it to the 2/3 cup of flour.
-You can freeze the waffles whole and warm them again in an oven, though admittedly they lose some of their chewiness the second time around.
- I like these guys with a little butter and maple syrup (though they don’t really need it). I’ve also enjoyed them with a thick, heavily reduced apple cider. Bacon would likely be a welcome addition here too.
-Weight equivalents are available here.