For the past month Julian and Sebastian have been trying to work out what Julian wanted for breakfast on his birthday. Clearly they really are my children. There was talk about breakfast sandwiches, although that idea was really from Sebastian as Julian takes them apart and complains. They also mentioned french toast and chocolate croissants. Then 3 days before his birthday I made Liege Sugar Waffles and the boys began lobbying to have them for breakfast on Julian's birthday. The recipe calls for Lars Belgium Pearl Sugar but I substituted Lars Swedish Pearl Sugar because I had a package of it gathering dust in my cupboard for over 4 years now.
Both sugars will not melt in the heat of the oven (or waffle iron). The Belgium sugar is larger so the sugar will create pockets of crunchy, caramel sweetness in the waffle. With the Swedish sugar the sweet pockets were smaller and gave more of an overall sweet caramelized flavor to the waffle. That flavor combined with the almost deep fried texture and richness from the cup of butter in the batter was irresistible. So much so that my photo shoot the first time I made the waffles got interrupted by a thieving boy. They were so good, we forgot to save any for Lewis. Okay we remembered, but only after we had eaten all of them.
I made them with Swedish Sugar again this morning as the Belgium Sugar is not available locally. I will look for it the next time we are in New York City. I am sure both will be delicious. To make them for Julian's birthday I mixed up the dough the night before and let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight. This morning we took it out of the fridge and set the bowl in a bowl of warm water to bring it back to room temperature. It worked perfectly and then we delivered our children in their sugar comas to school.
To celebrate Julian's 5th birthday let me share this photo from when he was 2. This photo was taken on vacation in Cape Cod. The extension cord is one he claimed for himself that he found under the bed at the cottage we were staying at. It was his comfort object that week. Some children love dolls, some children love trains or cars, for Julian it has always been electricity. After he fell asleep we would tip toe back into his room and wind up the cord so he would not strangle himself in his sleep. Not letting him have the cord was never a possibility. Instead, as good parents, we bend out prongs and ask people from other countries to send us surge protecters and power cords. At 5 he is still strong willed and still loves cords and wires, and I am just proud that he is still alive. Good luck to his Kindergarten teacher next year, I hope she can keep up with him.
Liege Sugar Waffles
2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 package)
1/3 cup tepid water (105° to 110°)
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated white sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup butter melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the yeast, water and granulated sugar in a small bowl and let it stand at room temperature until really foamy. This took about 5-7 minutes when I made them. Mix the flour and salt together in the bowl of your stand mixer and make a well in the center of the flour/salt mixture.
Pour proofed yeast into the well and mix with the flat beater blade on medium speed, adding the eggs one at a time. After each egg is well incorporated add the next one. Drizzle the melted butter in slowly while the mixer is still running to give the batter a chance to absorb it. Once the butter is fully incorporated add the vanilla and mix well. The batter should be thick and very sticky when you are done.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and put the cover on it or cover with a plate. If you wish to eat them that day allow to rise at room temperature until the batter has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. If you plan on eating them the next morning put the bowl in the fridge and take the bowl out of the fridge and place in a larger bowl of warm-hot water to allow to come to room temperature, stirring to allow all of the batter to warm up.
Mix in the 1 cup of pearl sugar and allow to rest for 15 more minutes. Preheat your waffle iron while the dough is resting. I used this waffle iron and thought they were the perfect size. Any waffle iron will work though although a belgium waffle iron would be best.
For my waffle iron I used 2 Tbsp of batter per waffle. If you have a regular sized waffle iron experiment with what sized Liege waffles you prefer. Some recipes call for only using a 2 inch ball of dough in the center of the iron. These waffles are very rich and a full sized waffle might be too much. Do not grease the waffle iron before cooking, trust me these are self releasing.
* If you do not want to buy the specialty sugar crush about 60 sugar cubes in a plastic bag using a rolling pin, saucepan or meat mallet. Sift the crushed sugar and measure 1 cup of the large pearl and chunk pieces. This sugar will melt in the waffle iron so the taste will not be exactly the same but there will still be pockets of sweetness.
If you use crushed sugar cubes remember to clean the waffle iron right away while the sugar is still warm as the melted sugar will harden as it cools and be very hard to clean.