Wednesday, Mar 5th, 2014
It took a brunch baby shower at Avec and the guests request for an off-menu item to be served for me to see it. As I rounded up the requisite iron and discussed recipes, a hidden passion in my pastry cook came bubbling to the surface. Turns out, Amy McCudden loves making waffles.
It may come from her boyfriends love of eating waffles, but where ever this devotion stems from, I found as enthusiastic a waffle maker as I have ever seen standing in front of me last weekend, thrilled at the prospect of landing a new recipe.
To accommodate our guests request, I had flipped through the many and varied recipes that exist to make waffles, comparing leavening agents, regional styles, flours, sweeteners, and textures, settling on my personal favorite, the liege style waffle. This waffle is a yeasted dough, sweetened not with sugar in the batter, but chunks of pearl sugar folded into the dough that caramelize against the hot surface of the waffle iron.
I first encountered liege waffles when a lovely woman named Adrien emailed me one day, asking to discuss my availability as a consultant. I was flattered to say the least. I was still a fairly young pastry chef, and she was the first person to ask me to consult. I pretended like I had some experience with it, arranged a meeting, and went about the business of being a consultant employing the fake-it-till-you-make-it mentality. We met at a coffee shop, and she shared her business with me, a liege waffle shop, for which she needed help designing the toppings.
Luckily, it was a simple enough job. Since she was as inexperienced with opening a restaurant as I was at consulting my cluelessness either didn’t show through, or didn’t dissuade her from hiring me. We met at her house, and tested and tasted my recipes on top of the waffle recipe she herself had already developed. I was instantly captivated by these waffles. They were light, crispy, and the depth of flavor of the caramelized pockets of sugar were mind blowing. (If you live in Seattle or find yourself passing through, you can find these waffles at Sweet Iron)
For our brunch party, we used the liege waffle recipe I developed for the waring company, featured here (disclosure, I am not exactly a firecracker on camera). It’s a fine example of the style, and our bellies were happily stuffed with more test runs than we realistically needed to make this weekend.
Amy was excited to find a recipe to bring home and make for her guy, and I am excited to discover this passion in my cook. I look forward to harnessing her desire for making waffles, and opening up our pastry menu at Avec to a waffle based dessert.