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Nigel, our new doughy overlord

I don’t usually name doughs. Obviously, a sourdough starter has to have a name (Herman, in this house) but others? Nah, not necessary. But my daughter called this one Nigel and Nigel he will forever be.

Nigel is a rich dough. Probably the richest I’ve ever worked with (though, all credit, it was my wife who did the majority of the work). He’s the dough you need to make Liege waffles, the requested birthday lunch for my youngest lad.

As with most recipes, we looked at a few from the internet and cherry-picked the bits that looked like they would work when combined with our usual go-to sources – The Cookery Year Book and Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Oh, and we also made more than anyone suggested – there’s 7 of us, it’s a birthday feast, we’re all going to want a few.

Ingredients, stage 1…

  • 240ml milk, luke-warm
  • 180ml luke-warm water
  • 3 sachets instant yeast
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 2tbs vanilla extract
  • 4tbs golden syrup or honey
  • 6tbs sugar – light brown if you’ve got it, caster if you haven’t (we didn’t. I blame COVID-19. We’re just lucky we had the flour!)
  • 2tsp salt

Fit your trusty Kenwood with a dough hook (other mixers are available, trust me you do not want to be doing Nigel by hand!). Put all of the above into the bowl, mix until well combined. The sugar, syrup, and yeast are going to start to react and turn all of the sugar into alcohol and CO2. It’s going to rise like nothing you’ve ever seen before even though it’s the richest damn dough I’ve ever handled and they’re normally shy, quiet, and reserved.

Ingredients, stage 2…

  • ~1kg strong white flour
  • 2 packs of butter (standard Supermarket 8oz packs), softened but not completely melted if you can help it.

Get the mixer on a low speed and add in 3/4 of the flour. Get it combined with the yeasty bad boy you made in stage 1. Now start adding the butter. Couple of tablespoons at a time, getting it thoroughly integrated with the proto-dough you’ve got emerging. Keep going until you’ve mixed in all of the butter, then add the rest of the flour. Leave it on a low speed for 5-10 minutes to give you a gorgeous, smooth, elastic dough. If you try it now, it tastes rich and fantastic.

Take the bowl off the mixer, making sure you scrape down the dough hook (which has a tendency to hang on to nearly a whole waffle’s worth of dough), cover with clingfilm and leave until doubled in size. Timings across the internets vary, most suggesting 1-2 hours. We found 30 minutes was enough in a warm kitchen before we were facing a “magic porridge pot” situation – stop, little pot, stop!

Nigel was then dumped unceremoniously into a much larger bowl, lightly oiled, kneaded briefly, then covered with clingfilm and escorted safely to the fridge where armed guards would stop him escaping and trying to take over the world. Trust me, we feared for the world we’d come down to the next morning.

Having rested in the fridge overnight, letting the yeast do it’s work low and slow (a trick that works like a charm when you’re making sourdough or even just regular bread and have the time to do it), Nigel looked like this:

The dough, risen in a lightly oiled bowl and covered with clingfilm.

Not a world-dominating monster but still pretty damn enormous. If you taste the dough now, you’d better not be driving anywhere in a hurry because damn, it’s alcoholic! Time for the final ingredient:

Ingredients, stage 3…

  • 500g pearl sugar

We’ve got pearl sugar from Amazon, you can get it from wherever you find it. I’m sure there’s a Waitrose Essentials version.

Knead all of the pearl sugar into the dough.

Now time for the magic. Get your waffle iron heating up and ready. I did say you needed a waffle iron for this, didn’t I? Argos have a great little one for about £20 if you’re needing one.

Pull off a chunk of the dough about the size of a golfball, put it in the middle of the plate. Our maker does 2 waffles, so that’s 2 golfballs. Cook according to the iron’s instructions – 3-4 minutes, turn, 3-4 minutes, serve.

And you end up with these beauties…

Waffles.
Okay, so our other waffle iron does clown, lion, and possibly elephant shapes.

Thank you to all of our internet sources for inspiration and information. Particularly Handle the Heat who’s recipe provided the base for ours once we’d translated it into real measurements. Seriously, America, cups? In the 21st Century? We’ve got the metric system for a reason!

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