Liège Waffle Caramelization
Virtually every other Liège waffle recipe, whether in print or online, is an absolute fucking piece of shit. It’s a testament to how great these waffles are that so many people can so thoroughly abuse ingredients and tradition and still produce waffle recipes that people rave about. Even my original recipe for these, which is #1 on Google and has been copied and stolen scores of times, is one I’m happy to call crap compared to what I’m now doing with these waffles.
The above said, the recipe here on the site is as close as I’ve yet come to perfection – all with verifiably traditional ingredients. Today, I was trying out a slightly revised Liège waffle recipe – no AP flour at all (only pastry flour and rye), more butter, and a slightly lower cook temperature. The result was the absolute best Liège waffle I’ve ever made. In fact, I immediately updated the main recipe page.
With the exception of feeling as though I could dial back on the amount of vanilla in the finished piece, everything about it was as I’ve always imagined. The interior was perfectly cooked – not too wet, not too dry, and so tender – thanks to the pastry flour. Then there was the delicious wave of buttery goodness. And best of all, the most exquisite caramelization that ranged from light amber to a deep, rich auburn.
The next step for the recipe looks to be digging into finding the most period-correct honey. I love orange blossom honey, and they certainly would have had it in France and Belgium in the early-to-mid-19th century. But would it have been a go-to for the chefs of the day? Also, how does the recipe need to change when I use freshly milled and hand-bolted flour (now that I have a flour mill)? And can I work out a version of the recipe that uses ale barm? Once these questions are resolved, the recipe will be an unimpeachable magnificence. It will allow us to taste a piece of history that probably was last made 150 years ago – and to experience how these waffles became iconic. God knows, unless Liège waffle bakers begin to steer back to the more traditional ingredients, no one may care about these in another 150 years.
I’m not going to stop working on this until I can taste mid-19th century Belgium in every single bite.