Take that sourdough starter and bring it to life in these Sourdough Liege Waffles. These waffles are dense and sweet, studded with crunchy pearl sugar nibs. Serve the waffles with some fruit and whipped cream, and you’ve got a great brunch!
When I lived in Edmonton, I used to pass a waffle truck on the way to work.
The owner made Belgian waffles, in particular, Liege-style, which are sweeter and denser than your American-style “Eggo” waffle.
With my sourdough starter on overdrive lately, I wanted to make Sourdough Liege Waffles.
But first, what are Liege waffles?
Brussels vs. Liege waffles
Belgian waffles are categorized into 2 main types (there are other regional variations), but these are the most common:
- Brussels: waffles are a light, crisp waffle that is made with egg whites or yeast. They are typically presented in a rectangular shape and dusted with powdered sugar.
- Liege: on the other hand, are based on an enriched, yeasted dough, similar to brioche, and is much more sweeter, denser and chewier. The hallmark of the Liege waffle is the addition of pearl sugar to the dough, which gives it its crunch and sweetness.
What is pearl sugar?
Pearl sugar, also known as “nib sugar” is a specialty, coarse, white sugar that does not typically melt at baking temperatures.
The sugar is compressed together to form a larger chunk.
It’s used in various European baked goods such as Swedish cinnamon buns, as well as Belgian Liege waffles.
In Liege waffles, the pearl sugar is typically larger and caramelizes when it hits the waffle iron.
The bits of sugar give the waffle its sweet crunchy texture.
Where to find pearl sugar?
Pearl sugar is not typically found at grocery stores; it is more of a specialty gourmet product. You may be able to find it online.
However, if you can’t find pearl sugar, a quick substitute is to use the cubed sugar (usually used for coffee and tea) and crush it with a mallet until you end up with smaller chunks.
How to make the waffles
Unlike regular pancakes or waffles, liege waffles are made with a dough, rather than a batter.
If you’re using a sourdough starter, make sure you feed it a few hours prior to making the levain.
Mix the levain (starter) the night before you want to make the waffles and leave at room temperature overnight.
In the morning, mix the starter with the rest of the ingredients and leave the dough to rest at room temperature for a few hours… or you can leave it in the fridge to cold ferment for a longer period of time.
If you leave it to proof longer, that will provide additional flavour to the dough.
After the dough has risen, knead pearl sugar into the dough prior to hitting the hot waffle iron.
The crunchy bits of sugar will caramelize into a golden amber colour and give the exterior its crisp and sweet texture.
The centre of the dough will be chewy and rich.
How to enjoy & store
These Sourdough Liege Waffles are a sweet and delicious treat.
Pair them with fruit and some whipped cream to make it a little more fancy.
You can store the cooked liege waffles in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Alternatively, you can freeze them in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Just pop them into a toaster oven to reheat and serve.
Try adding matcha powder to the dough to make a matcha version.
You could even try hojicha powder too.
Other recipes you may like
These waffles take a little extra time to make, but most of that time is hands-off, and with Mother’s Day ahead… these will be sure to impress!
Let me know if you try out my recipe — I love seeing your recreations! Tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below.
Sourdough Liege Waffles
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 2 Tbsp active sourdough starter
- ¼ C all-purpose flour
- ¼ C water
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp honey or granulated cane sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp butter cut in pieces, at room temperature
- ½ C pearl sugar
- Mix together the active starter, flour and water in a bowl. Cover and leave overnight at room temperature.
- The next day, add the flour, honey, vanilla extract, salt, and eggs into a stand mixer bowl fitted a dough hook attachment.
- Knead until the dough comes together, about 5 minutes. With the mixer still running, add in small pieces of butter; only adding more when the butter has been incorporated into the dough.
- Continue to knead until the dough is smooth and shiny. (Don't add in the pearl sugar yet).
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Leave to rise in a warm location for a few hours (3-4 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is). Note: This dough will NOT double in size, but it will become slightly risen.
- When the dough is ready, knead in the pearl sugar and divide into 8 pieces.
- Preheat waffle iron to medium-high.
- Place the dough in the centre of the waffle iron and close. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until golden. (Be careful, the heated sugar is very hot).
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.