Waffles, two ways: Pearl sugar pretzel waffles + traditional Liège waffles

Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)

I nailed the best cake over the weekend. A banana cake with peanut butter hot fudge sauce and a couple handfuls of salted peanuts + flaked coconut thrown on top. It was a bit too decadent for the dude (who would have rather had his banana cake without all the toppings) but, for me, it was my ideal cake: the perfect combination of sweet and salty, and rich but not stick-to-your-teeth rich (though, don't get me wrong, I love a good cake that's so rich it physically renders me speechless). Anyway, I had every intention of sharing it with you, and then we ran out of almost-rotten bananas and all the ones at each of the four surrounding grocery stores were lime green. So no banana cake. Yet. Though I regret to inform you there may not be banana cake for a while because my days with an oven are numbered. And I doubt the bananas on our counter will turn brown before I part ways with my favorite kitchen appliance (for what I'm expecting to be a good two months).

So instead you get waffles. Which I wasn't even planning on sharing except I did a pretty cool Instagram campaign with US Bank this week and worked to develop a Liège waffle recipe to rival the ones we ate while we were traveling through Belgium, nearly three years ago. And then, in the process, I discovered that something magic happens when you dip your waffle dough in a baking soda bath: PRETZEL WAFFLES! Which is my new favorite kind of waffle. The combination of sweet + salty makes it perfect served plain (can you tell I'm on a sweet/salty kick this week?), alongside a black mug of coffee. You know you're onto something good when you develop a waffle recipe that doesn't need all the bells and whistles. So if a simple dusting of powdered sugar is your thing, go on with your bad self. Or, if you're like me and never pass up an opportunity to smother your waffles in ALL THE THINGS, load 'em up and brace yourself for the worst (but most delicious) sugar crash of all time.

Also! I know these aren't tradiiiiitional Liège waffles considering they're missing a few of the main ingredients: eggs and hella milk/butter. So I should probably warn you that these aren't traditional Liège waffles as far as ingredients are concerned, but they are traditional Liège waffles as far as the end result is concerned. And I'd argue that, despite having to take a different path to get there, they're damn near indistinguishable from their egg and dairy-laden counterparts.

For the curious: fifth photo down, starting clockwise from the top left waffle: pretzel, Liège, Liège, pretzel, Liège. How to tell them apart? The pretzel waffles look a little less polished than the Liège waffles. And the pretzel waffles have an uneven golden-yellow finish.

DID YOU COUNT HOW MANY TIMES I SAID LIÈGE? Yikes.

Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
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Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)
Pearl sugar waffles (two ways)

Notes: Coconut oil (both refined and unrefined) is my go-to baking oil but it requires that none of the ingredients be cold (otherwise the oil will harden). If you'd rather not have to deal with making sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature, feel free to use your favorite neutral-flavored oil (sun coco is a recent favorite of mine). Unfortunately these waffles require a bit of planning and DO need to rise overnight. And then again an hour before you make them. But I promise they're worth it. If you don't have white whole wheat flour, unbleached all-puropse will work (white spelt will work, too, but you'll have to use the weighted measure). If you're wanting to eat these for breakfast, just be warned that they're super sweet. And more of a dessert waffle than a breakfast waffle, though you could easily reduce the cane sugar to 1 or 2 tablespoons. If you forgo the pearl sugar, your waffles won't have those crispy, golden edges. So don't skip it!

More waffle goodness: Banana and pearl sugar Belgian waffles, snow day waffles, and sweet potato waffles with cacao nibs.

WAFFLES, TWO WAYS: PEARL SUGAR PRETZEL WAFFLES + TRADITIONAL LIÈGE WAFFLES

2 1/4 teaspoons (7g) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (50g) warm water, between 105-108˚F
2 cups (280g) white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon (2g) fine sea salt
1/4 cup (52g) cane sugar
1/4 cup (45g) refined coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup (110g) unsweetened almondmilk, room temperature
2 (88g) flax eggs
1 teaspoon (4g) pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pearl sugar

YOU'LL ALSO NEED
Powdered sugar
Coconut whipped cream
Hazelnut hot fudge sauce (variation #2 using Frangelico)
Flaked coconut
Crushed hazelnutsCacao nibs
Banana slices
Frozen raspberries

In a small bowl, stir together the water and yeast; sprinkle with a small pinch of sugar and set aside for 10-15 minutes, until foamy. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar. When the yeast has proofed, create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture, oil, almondmilk, flax eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir, using a sturdy spatula, just until combined then fold in the pearl sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 8 hours (no more than 24). An hour before you plan on making the waffles, remove the bowl from the fridge and let the dough sit at room temperature - uncovered - for one hour.

For pearl sugar pretzel waffles: Once the dough has sat at room temperature for an hour, prepare a baking soda bath by bringing 6 cups of water to a boil, in a medium-sized pot. While you're waiting for the water to boil, line a baking sheet with parchment paper (and set aside), section the dough into 4 or 5 even pieces (I like to use a stainless steel scoop), and preheat your waffle maker. Once the water is boiling, add 1/4 cup of baking soda and use a large slotted spoon to dip the dough - one piece at a time - into the water bath; submerge for 15-20 seconds then shake to remove excess water. Once dipped, transfer back to the baking sheet. Spray the preheated waffle maker with oil (you'll likely have to do it between each waffle) and cook waffles according to the manufacturer's instructions.

For traditional Liège waffles: Once the dough has sat at room temperature for an hour, preheat your waffle maker. Once preheated, spray with oil and add 1/2-3/4 cup of dough to the maker and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To keep waffles warm, place them on a baking sheet in a 200˚F oven. When you're ready to serve, top with all your favorite things (a handful of mine are listed above) (and make for next-level waffles). My favorite combination is sliced bananas, hot fudge sauce, and crushed hazelnuts. Easy caramel sauce would be good on top, too.

Yield: 4-5 waffles

New (temporary) kitchen
Day-old pearl sugar waffles
Day-old pearl sugar waffles