"One bite of these crisp, buttery waffles and you'll never go back to regular waffles again," says Stone. "The pearl sugar that studs the rich brioche dough caramelises as the waffles cook, creating a crunchy shell. I love them with this rhubarb-vanilla jam, but you could try other toppings, too - I also like them with cumquats simmered in maple syrup."
- 80 ml lukewarm milk (⅓ cup)
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tsp dried yeast
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 260 gm plain flour
- 240 gm unsalted butter, diced, softened, plus extra, melted, for brushing
- 150 gm Belgian pearl sugar (see note)
- Icing sugar, to serve
- 220 gm caster sugar (1 cup)
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 500 gm rhubarb (about 6 stalks), trimmed and cut crossways into 5mm-thick pieces
- 1For rhubarb-vanilla jam, place sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and 250ml water in a large frying pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer until syrup thickens slightly (4-5 minutes), then add rhubarb and simmer until tender but holding its shape (2-3 minutes). Transfer half the rhubarb to a bowl with a slotted spoon and continue to simmer jam, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb breaks down (4-5 minutes). Cool briefly, then gently fold reserved rhubarb into jam, transfer to a jar and cool to room temperature. Jam can be kept refrigerated for up to a week.
- 2Combine milk, sugar and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and stand until foamy (8-10 minutes). Add egg and vanilla, mix to combine, then add flour and ½ tsp sea salt, and mix on low speed to combine. Add butter, a few pieces at a time, mixing well between additions. Increase speed to medium-high and knead until dough is soft and silky (8-10 minutes; dough will be very sticky). Cover bowl and stand in a warm place until dough has doubled in size (45 minutes to 1 hour). Knead in pearl sugar, cover and rest for 30 minutes.
- 3Preheat oven to 100C and place a wire rack on a large baking tray in the oven. Heat a waffle iron and brush waffle plates with butter. Place a heaped ½ cup of dough in the centre, close and cook until crisp and caramelised (2-3 minutes). Carefully remove cooked waffle with a spatula (be careful, caramelised sugar will be very hot), transfer to oven to keep warm, then cook remaining waffles. Dust waffles with icing sugar and serve warm topped with rhubarb-vanilla jam.
Belgian pearl sugar, small nibs of heavily compacted sugar that don't dissolve during cooking, is available from and select specialist food shops such as The Essential Ingredient. If it's unavailable, use the same weight of sugar cubes and coarsely crush them.
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