Gaufre de Liège (Fresh Flour Version)
For almost as long as I have been making these waffles, I’ve had the fantasy of milling my own flour — the aim of which is making a supremely authentic Liège waffle. That fantasy has since become a reality, with the purchase of a Grainmaker No. 99 flour mill.
You may be thinking, “Why bother?” That’s simple. I’m obsessed with waffles. But, more importantly, I want to bring Liège waffles back. It’s to the point that I think essentially everyone who thinks they’ve had a Liège waffle have never actually had a Liège waffle. It’s like someone tasting Cool-Whip and thinking it’s whipped cream. It’s not. When you have a Liège waffle made with milk, a gagging amount of yeast, margarine, and/or bread flour, it would literally be unrecognizable to the men and women who first made them. Those ingredients have nothing to do with what they used. Taking it a step further, unless you’re using freshly milled and bolted soft white wheat flour, you’re missing the elements of flavor and texture imparted by the wheat germ and modest amounts of bran — both absent from modern, roller-milled flour. And it’s fresh flour that the old bakers would have used. Had they not, the germ would have gone rancid, within a week or two of milling, turning the finished product into something less than palatable.
Freshly milled flour radically changes the process of making these waffles. Yeast love the fresh flour far more than store-bought flour, so the proofing times at almost every stage are shorter. The gluten in the fresh flour is also much stronger, even though I’m using soft white wheat (just as 18th and 19th century French and Belgian millers would have), so mixing times are reduced, too.
Milling and bolting the flour is definitely a labor of love, and I doubt anyone reading this will ever attempt it. But if you do, this waffle is the closest possible version to what the gaufre de Liège once was, centuries ago.
- 2.3g T-58 Belgian ale yeast (or instant yeast)
- 49.7g mineral water at 43°C/110°F
- 195.9g #70 mesh-bolted soft white wheat flour
- 50.0g egg (heated in a very warm water bath to 43°C/110°F and then lightly beaten)
- 47.5g egg (room temperature)
- 14.0g cassonade (light brown sugar)
- 3.7g fine sea salt
- 4-6 Mexican vanilla pods (to yield 2.8g seed paste)
- 13.6g orange blossom honey
- 147.0g European-style butter at 10°C-/50°F
- 132.0g Belgian pearl sugar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and allow it to stand for several minutes. Then add 80g of your flour and 50g of warm egg. Mix to blend.
- Cover the mixture with the remaining flour, but do not stir. Then cover the bowl in plastic wrap, and let it stand for 60 minutes.
- Add the additional 47.5g of egg, together with the light brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and honey.
- Affix the paddle attachment, and mix on speed #1 (the “stir” setting) — scraping every few minutes — until the dough forms a ball on the paddle. This should take about 10-13 minutes.
- Begin adding the butter, about 15g at a time, over the next 5-7 minutes, scraping the bowl every couple minutes.
- Once all the butter is completely added, continue mixing, scraping occasionally, until the dough again balls on the paddle. This should only take 2-6 minutes.
- Scrape the dough into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature for 3 hours. Then put it into the refrigerator to rest overnight (or at least 8 hours).
- The next day, take 85g pieces of the dough and mix each with 20g of pearl sugar. Shape them into oval balls (like a football without the pointy ends) and let them rise (covered loosely in plastic wrap) for 90 minutes.
- If you have a professional waffle iron (meaning: it’s cast iron and weighs over 15kg) cook at exactly 179°C-182°C for approximately 2 minutes. If you have a regular home iron, it may take 4 minutes or longer.
- The flour for this recipe was milled on a Grainmaker #99, set 3 "clicks" up from the locked state. It was then bolted through a #70 mesh 8" full-height Superlasieve.
- A total of 280g of berries were milled to yield enough flour for the dough. The composition of the raw berries was 274.6g/98% organic soft white wheat berries to 5.6g/2% organic rye berries (to represent imperfect harvesting practices of the 18th and 19th centuries). Prior to milling, the berries were tempered for 16 hours to 14% moisture.