Photos by Molly Yeh
May I toot own horn for one tiny second to say that when I make challah, there is never any left the next morning for French toast?
Ok really, the credit should go to my all time favorite recipe. It’s unstoppable. But my point is: how do people let challah go stale in the name of French toast? And is there another way to experience brunch time challah that doesn’t require self-restraint every time you walk into the kitchen and see half a loaf of challah just sitting there, saying “eat me! eat me!”?
The answer is waffles. The quirky brunch middle child that requires its own appliance — an appliance that can also handle a fresh ball of challah dough. Yup. No stale bread needed, and waffles à la challah are so mind blowingly tasty that challah French toast better watch its back.
These waffles take a hint from the Belgian Liège waffle, which is made using yeast-risen dough that’s flecked with large crystals of sugar called pearl sugar. It’s also doughier and chewier than what most Americans think of when they order a Belgian waffle.
When I lived in New York, I drove myself crazy trying to find pearl sugar. I looked in so many grocery stores before paying way too much for an itsy bitsy bag of it at Kalustyan’s. When I moved to North Dakota, on my first trip to the regular old local grocery store, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Swedish pearl sugar sitting so innocently on the shelf. A perk of living in a sea of Scandinavians!
I’ve since heard that you can purchase pearl sugar at Sur La Table, IKEA, and of course online. Belgian pearl sugar is larger than Swedish pearl sugar, but both will work for this recipe.
I suggest that the next time you make a loaf of challah, you also whip up some of this dough (it has just about the same ingredients but in slightly different ratios), and then stick it in the fridge over night. The next morning, get out your waffle maker and embrace the beauty of the challah waffle.
Makes 6-8 servings
1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon white sugar
3/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing your waffle iron
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pearl sugar
1) In a small bowl or measuring cup, proof the yeast with 1 teaspoon of white sugar in 1/2 cup of the water.
2) While it’s proofing, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, the flour, and the salt in a large bowl.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of water, the honey, 1/2 cup of canola oil, eggs, and vanilla. Once the yeast has proofed, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg mixture and the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. It will be a very sticky dough. Resist the urge to add more flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size either at room temperature for 2 hours, or in the refrigerator over night.
4) Gently stir or kneed in the pearl sugar.
5) Heat your waffle iron, brush it with oil, and then cook a ball of dough (the size will vary based on the size of your waffle iron, I use about 1/3 cup of dough) until browned and cooked through. Enjoy!