Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Belgian Liege Waffles

For Father's Day this year, all Paul wanted was to go on a hike with the family somewhere we had yet to visit. He did a bit of research and chose "the Grand Canyon of the East Coast" as our destination, the tranquil Letchworth State Park in New York. A decent drive from our home, Paul's original plan was to get up and out of the house very early so we could theoretically spend more time hiking there than driving before having to head back home to enjoy some grilled steak. He figured if we left the house by 8:30 AM, then we would arrive there around 11:30 or so and hike around until about 3:00 before making it back to Erie with plenty of time to light the grill, grill the steaks, and have dinner on the porch by 7:00 or so. Needless to say, things did not really go as planned.

Part of this was my fault. I still wanted to feed Paul a special breakfast for Father's Day. Despite my tempting offerings of homemade bagels and lox or Eggs Benedict, Paul really wanted something relatively quick so, again, we would not be lingering around eating when we could be driving to our hiking destination. So, he chose smoothies. I am all for slurping down pureed fruit for breakfast, but that seemed a bit too simple for a celebratory day like Father's Day, so I kept bugging him to pick something else. Suddenly, his face brightened as the memory of something irresistibly delicious popped into his head and he turned toward me and declared: "Liege Waffles!"

We had made Liege Waffles only once before, shortly after Lucy was born when Peter had flown out to visit his new niece. We were chatting about food, like we often do with Peter, and somehow we started talking about true Belgian waffles and their rich delicious and slightly crunchy chew thanks to the generous amount of pearl sugar scattered throughout the batter. No syrup required. We then proceeded to select a recipe, search every grocery store in our area for pearl sugar, and make our own liege waffles. Peter took charge of the actual making of the recipe and they turned out so incredibly good! We never actually tracked down pearl sugar despite our exhaustive efforts, but Peter figured out a way to make some at home and it worked very well! Paul was obsessed with the results and the memory of how much he enjoyed that experience was the reason he chose to select those waffles as part of his father's day breakfast. Only this time, we actually ordered the pearl sugar ahead of time.

Setting an alarm for 6:30 AM so I could make the waffle batter early enough so as not to affect our departure time, When I awoke, I was surprised to find that Paul was already up and stumbling around trying to figure out how to make the batter himself. Boy, he really wanted to make sure we got out on time! I told him to go back to bed and that I had everything covered.

"Ok, maybe for just a few more minutes," he mumbled, rubbing his red eyes.

I proceeded to make the batter and set it aside for the rise. Then, I set the table and got everything prepped to make the smoothies and packed a lunch bag for our afternoon at the park. During this time, Matthew, Emma, Lucy, and Amy all woke up and wandered into the kitchen. Matthew proudly set up Paul's gifts next to his plate, brewed coffee, and started to help me cook off the waffles. Everything was pretty much ready, but there was no sign of the Man of the Hour. I sent up the kids to wake him up and he once again made it downstairs looking like he had just been hit by a bus.

"What happened to waking up early there, Sleeping Beauty?" I asked him. The time was 8:00 AM.

Lucy is sending me her "come hither" signal.

We enjoyed our breakfast of smoothies and waffles. Paul, just like the last time, adored the waffles. He absolutely stuffed himself full of them, claiming that we would "hike it off" later. He also loved his gift from the kids of some wind chimes for the backyard. Paul had specifically asked Matthew to suggest wind chimes to me as a gift, and Matthew followed through! However, by the time we had finished, the time was well past 9:00. Paul began to panic and bark orders at everyone to "get moving!"

Showers were taken, clothes were thrown on, floors were quickly swept, and children were briskly strapped into their car seats. Finally, we were ready to go! The time was 10:00 and Paul was not happy. "We were supposed to leave hours ago!" he grumbled as we finally wound our way along the road leaving our neighborhood.

Pretending to be the Lorax.

It didn't get any better from there. Unfortunately, serving smoothies to the kids for breakfast resulted in an endless number of potty breaks, most of which occurred about three miles after we had passed a convenient rest stop. Let's just say, both kids are becoming quite seasoned at fertilizing rural fields. With each call from the backseat of "I have to go to the potty!" Paul grew increasingly more crazed.

"We are never going to get there! We might as well turn around and go home!!" he threatened as he took a hopping Matthew to the restroom for what seemed like the hundredth time. There is no better day than Father's Day for the children to really highlight the truly messy, tedious, frustrating aspects of fatherhood!

Eventually, we did make it to our destination and it was all worth it. The views! The beautiful views! While hot, the slight breeze ripping through the trees cooled us down nicely and made hiking fairly painless. The waterfalls were breathtaking and even the kids were silenced briefly as they gazed at the wonder before them. We did spy three large snakes along our hike so Amy was on edge the entire time. I enjoyed toying with her anxiety by screaming out "SNAKE!" every once in a while and watching her jump and scream in terror. We were having so much fun that we ignored the increasing shadows as the day grew old and stayed into the early evening, unwilling to rush ourselves as we took in the sights.

We did make it home eventually and, just as on the way down, the potty breaks were ridiculously frequent. Once we arrived home, Matthew and Emma were both sleeping peacefully in the back. Both kids woke up as we pulled them from the back seat, but Matthew requested to go right to his bed and continue sleeping for the night while Emma bounced back into her happy, hyper self and remained with us as we enjoyed a grilled steak dinner...at 10:30 PM.

Sometimes, the best-laid plans often go very wrong. However, sometimes they give way to an even better, more wonderful result. We had a beautiful day despite the initial frustration and angst. And Paul still got to end the day with a 10 oz. rib-eye, so he was feeling pretty dang content to closing his Father's Day with some clogged arteries.

Happy to finally be done with carrying a very heavy Emma on his back!

Oh, and he loved the waffles and hoarded the leftovers days afterwards. I am including the recipe below because I know we will be making them again and perhaps, if you're at all curious about how good these really are, you can try your hand at whipping them up as well!

Liege Waffles
from Whipped the Blog

1 (1/4 ounce) package yeast
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional but good!)
1 cup pearl sugar (we bought ours on Amazon)

Mix the yeast, water, sugar and salt in a bowl and let it develop or sit for 15 minutes. Place the flour in a separate large mixing bowl (we use the bowl of our kitchen aid stand mixer) and make a well in the center of the flour.

Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix until blended on medium speed. Add the eggs (one at a time), the melted butter a bit at a time, and the vanilla and cinnamon. Be sure to mix well after each addition to the batter. The batter will be thick and very sticky.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and let the dough rest until it doubles in volume inside the bowl, about 1 hour. Gently fold in the pearl sugar and let the dough rest for 15 more minutes. While the dough is resting, heat the waffle iron.

Spoon about a 2″ ball of dough into the center of the waffle iron. This should yield a waffle that is about 4″ in diameter. I know that sounds small, but these rich waffles pack quite a punch. Waffles will take 3-5 minutes to bake. Play around with the heat settings on our waffle iron it to get it to cook to your liking.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic pictures! What a gorgeous place. I can really relate to things going not quite to plan and running behind...feels like a constant around here!