Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Suikerwafels

It's not until you bite into a suikerwafel for the first time that you realize that not all waffles are equal. Some shine, some just eh...waffle, I guess. The batter-type waffles that we serve during St. Maarten's have their own charm; they're fluffy, tender and can be outfitted with the most exciting bursts of flavor: sweetened whipped cream, fresh fruit, gooey chocolate syrup...you name it.

But it's the suikerwafel, or sugar waffle, that sets itself apart from all other waffles. The dough is yeast-based and vanilla-infused, and creates a beautiful chewy, heavy pastry. Within all that golden goodness, the waffle holds delicious pockets of crumbly pearl sugar. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a WAFFLE!

These pastries were originally known as Luikse Wafels, waffles from Liège (Belgium), but have no similarity to the Belgian waffles as we know them in the United States, except for its easily recognizable grid pattern. Whereas those Belgian waffles are consumed for breakfast, with syrup or whipped cream and fresh fruit, these sugar waffles are eaten as a snack, a pastry or as a quick pick-me-up with a cup of coffee, but hardly ever as a breakfast item. Now...I'm not saying that's not a good idea!

Look at that sugar!
Just like the stroopwafels vendors in Holland, you can find small food trucks throughout the various cities in Belgium that sell these suikerwafels. They (the waffles) made their way to Holland and are now a standard fare in the cookie aisle and on street markets, but are also sold at the oliebollenkramen during the wintertime. The last several years suikerwafels seem to play a much more prominent role than before, a welcome addition to our already quite extensive cookie and pastry selection!

Suikerwafels
3 1/2 cups of flour, divided
2 heaping teaspoons of active dry yeast
3/4 cup of milk, warm
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla flavoring (or 1 sachet vanilla sugar)
3 eggs
2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 cup of Belgian pearl sugar*

Put three cups of flour in a bowl, saving the half cup for later. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, set it aside for a couple of minutes to proof. Add the salt to the flour. Pour in the yeasty milk, add the vanilla and stir until the dough comes together. Now add an egg and keep stirring (I let the mixer do the work!). When the dough has absorbed the first egg, add the second one, and repeat the process with the third.

When you can no longer tell the egg from the dough, carefully mix in the soft butter, bit by bit. If the dough has a hard time coming together, add one tablespoon of flour to help everything blend.

When the dough has come together (it will be slightly sticky), pull it out of the bowl, and knead it for a few minutes on the counter (you may need to dust your hands and the counter with a bit of flour to avoid it sticking!), then mix in the sugar. When all has come together beautifully, roll the dough into a log, cover it and let it rest for five minutes.

Cut the dough into 2 oz pieces (or 50 grams), and roll them into balls. Place them on a floured baking sheet or cutting board, and cover. Let them rise until puffy and tender, a good thirty minutes at room temperature.

In the meantime, heat your Belgian waffle iron. It should not need any greasing as there is plenty of butter in the dough, but you know your waffle iron best! Place a ball of dough on the griddle, push down the lid and bake until they're done.  I happen to have a two rectangles kind of waffle maker. If you have a round one that breaks the waffle into four sections, measure your dough out to 6 oz so that it'll make four smaller waffles at once.

Place a dough ball in the middle of the iron, push down the lid and bake as usual. Depending on the waffle iron, this can take anywhere from two to 5 minutes. Be careful, as the melted sugar is extremely hot and can cause severe burns. Let the waffles cool on a rack before eating, and cool the waffle maker (the machine, not you!) before cleaning. The burnt sugar is best wiped off with a damp cloth.

Makes approximately 24 waffles.




*If you can't find Belgian pearl sugar in the store, take the equivalent amount in sugar cubes, put them in a towel and give them a couple of good whacks with your rolling pin. Same thing!

2 comments:

  1. These are totally amazing. I told my son that I was invited for coffee and waffles. He told me that they are his very favorite. He had them in New York.. a street vendor. He said the line stretched clear down the block. I am not surprised. These are worth standing in a very long line. A very very very long line even.

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