Here it is! My first recipe. To be fair, it is an adapted recipe from another site, but I feel proud I managed to make something that works with my sourdough starter. After a couple of months living in San Francisco, I decided a sourdough starter was vital to experience the joys of baking in the bay area. So I whipped out my Fergus Henderson cookbook and made my own mother from scratch using a variety of flours, water, yogurt and rhubarb. It’s gotten more pungent and sour over the months (which is a good thing), but there’s only so many loaves, baguettes and pancakes a person can make before he wants to try other things. I’ve also made bagels several times, but they just don’t seem to turn out exactly the way I want them.
I also looked for inspiration other places. I am lucky enough to have an amazing waffle iron with removable plates, and that Belgian plate has been staring at me in the face. It brings me back to my whirlwind trip to Brussels and Bruges with my husband and five friends, and the insanity of everything we did. (I really wanted to go because I had been stuck in the UK for five months waiting for them to process an application and they had my passport the entire time.) From my decision that I was going to only eat moules frites the entire trip (I had two great bowls, and one terrible bowl) to my friend Brian wanting to go to Cantillon Brewery to drink the most hipster of all beers: Lambic (and us getting yelled at for wondering which of their beers was the least sour), the trip brings back so many memories.
Of course, we had to get waffles while we were there! There is a waffle dilemma to be had in Belgium, as there are two types: Brussels waffles and Liege waffles. Brussels waffles are more similar to the American-style Belgian Waffle, so I had to go for the Liege waffle to give it a try. And I did really like it! So I figured it would be a great choice to try to adapt with a sourdough starter.
The first time I tried it out, it didn’t really work that well. They were undercooked in the middle and I kept having to try to cook them longer. They just weren’t that great. I was worried that they were underproofed as sourdough can be tricky and requires much longer. So I gave it a second go, and this time, they came out amazingly. Light, yeasty waffles with the caramelized sugar on the outside to give it a nice, sweet crunch. And the sourdough really added a great background flavor to the waffle. So here’s how I did it. I highly recommend a waffle iron with removable plates, or a dedicated Liege waffle iron as the sugar does make a huge mess.
Sourdough Liege Waffles
adapted from Formaggio Kitchen
Makes six waffles. The waffles can be enjoyed hot, cold or room temperature, so you can make them in advance or package them up and enjoy them throughout the week.
1/2 cup 100% hydration sourdough starter
2 tbsp + 2 tsps milk
1 cup pastry flour
3/4 cup bread flour
1 egg (room temperature, lightly beaten)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp light brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 more tsp. extract)
8 tbsp or 1 stick of room temperature butter
3/4 heaping cup pearl sugar
Note on ingredients: Pastry flour and pearl sugar aren’t that common of ingredients; I managed to find them at Sur La Table, but I’m sure you can find them cheaper someplace else if you try.
Around 24 hours before baking in your waffle iron:
1. Mix the pastry flour and bread flour together.
2. Make a sponge by mixing together the sourdough starter, milk, egg and brown sugar with 2/3 cup of your mixed flour. Sprinkle the remaining flour on top of the mix and cover with plastic wrap. Leave out for about 12 hours until you see some of the sponge bubbling up through the flour.
Around 12 hours before baking in your waffle iron:
1. Add the salt to the top of the flour then on low speed in an electric mixer with a bread hook start mixing together the sponge and the flour. Add in the vanilla and the honey. When the dough is fully mixed, start adding in the butter, 2 tbsps at a time.
2. After the butter is added, the dough with be really sticky and messy. Let the dough rest for one minute. Then using the mixer on low speed, knead the dough for 5 minutes. Keep repeating the 1 minute of rest followed by 5 minutes of kneading until the dough comes together to form a ball. (At the beginning it seems like it will never happen, but it will.)
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for around 10-12 hours.
Right before making the waffles:
1. Add the pearl sugar and mix the pearl sugar in by hand until it is evenly distributed within the dough. Divide into six equal portions (I weighed mine), roll into balls and let rest for 15 minutes.
2. Heat up your waffle iron. (I went for between 8-9 on my waffle iron, it’s between the two highest settings.)
3. Press a ball into the iron and cook for around 5 minutes (or a bit longer if you want it really caramelized).
4. Enjoy your waffles.