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Homemade Beignets

Homemade Beignets

As a general rule, I don’t deep fry things very often. In fact, I rarely eat anything that is deep fried. I do enjoy frying because I think it’s fascinating to be able to watch the food cook and dough, in particular, puff up and take on a lovely golden color. So, I am willing to make fried foods when I have a special request.

My brother requested doughnuts, and I made beignets. Close enough.

Earlier this year, I made cake doughnuts, which use no yeast. I prefer them to yeasted doughnuts because they seem more substantial, but beignets have something special about them.

Beignets are a traditional pastry in New Orleans that are made with a yeasted dough. The dough is rolled out into squares and deep fried. The unique thing about them is that they have pockets in the center, making them incredibly light. Unfortunately, the one I cut in half for the photo had only a small, off-center pocket, but the rest really did have them! More often than not, they are sweet, but savory versions of beignets do exist and are very popular in some places.

I like this recipe, which I got from eGullet because it allows for an overnight rise in the fridge. This means that aside from heating up the oil, there is minimal work to be done in the morning. Since beignets are part of a tasty – if not exactly balanced – breakfast, this is a particularly good feature of the recipe. The beignets are usually served with a dusting of powdered sugar, though anything from jam to syrup can be eaten with them. A cup of coffee or hot chocolate is, in my opinion, a vital part of the dish.

Mine were very light and fluffy in the center and slightly sweet. The outside is pleasingly crisp fry the frying and, thanks to some thorough draining, they didn’t seem greasy at all. I will say that they were a bit thicker than some of the commercially made beignets that I have had, but with this sort of pastry, practice will produce a more perfect product.

Beignets in the Deep Fryer

(recipe from eGullet)
3/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
3 3/4 — 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk*
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, very soft
canola (or safflower) oil for frying
confectioners sugar, to serve

In a large bowl (the bowl of an electric mixer), dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Mix in sugar, salt, egg, and evaporated milk. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat (by hand or with the paddle attachment) until smooth. Stir in the butter and 1 3/4 cups flour, switching to the dough hook towards the end of mixing if you are using an electric mixer. Add in remaining flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl into a soft ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, heat one quart of oil in a medium sauce pan (or more oil in a bigger pan if you want to cook a lot at a time), measuring it with a thermometer until it reaches 370F.

Scrap dough, which will have doubled in size, out of the bowl and onto a very lightly floured surface. Deflate and shape into a rectangle. Roll out the rectangle until it is 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 25 squares using a pizza cutter.

Lower squares into hot oil and cook, turning once, until golden brown. Monitor the temperature to make sure it does not drop too low or get too high. Do not overcrowd the pan.

Drain on paper towels and dust generously with confectioners sugar before serving.
Makes 25 beignets

*Note: If you do not have evaporated milk, do not use sweetened condensed milk. In a pinch, you can substitute cream or light cream (which I had done) for evaporated milk and still get good results.

Homemade Beignets

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  • Natalia
    July 20, 2006

    I’ve only had beignets once, but it was enough to win over my taste buds. There’s something about them, they’re like little pillows of wonderful, doughy goodness! I will try making them myself someday.

  • J
    July 21, 2006

    hi nic, gorgeous! what i’d do to sink my teeth into some of that perfectly deep-fried golden goodness!

  • Jen
    July 21, 2006

    Those look great! Almost makes me want to make up a batch, except that it’s too hot and muggy for heating up the house with oil to seem like a good idea.

    I make these myself, with a very similar recipe. I’m guessing that the lack of nice pocket is due to the full rise before you cut and fry the dough–I have better luck with pockets if I let the dough rest 10-15 minutes before cutting, rather than letting it have a full rise. Otherwise my results are pretty hole-free, like yours. But they’re still great, hole in the middle or no.

  • Tanna
    July 21, 2006

    I’m always into the overnight rise! These look beautiful. Ahhh, fat.

  • mooncrazy
    July 21, 2006

    Thanks, now all I can think of is Cafe du Mon in NOLA and footprints in the powdered sugar that had fallen on the floor. I must try these once it becomes cool in my kitchen.

    Summer, the other diet.

  • juliebean
    July 21, 2006

    Those are marvelous!!! I’m drooling over here!!! Now give me come coffee & chicory and I’ll be all set. 🙂

  • Su-Yin
    July 21, 2006

    mmmm…deep fried dough….*drool* great job with the pictures! i wish i had a deeep fryer! mail me one! haha

  • Nic
    July 21, 2006

    Suyin – You don’t need a deep fryer. I don’t have one. You just use a regular saucepan filled with oil, and get a thermometer (or a candy thermometer) to monitor the heat!

  • Su-Yin
    July 22, 2006

    of course Nic; haha I usually do my deepfrying that way too…it’s just that a deep fryer makes deep frying so much more convinient+fun! I hate the wiping and cleaning up the stove after splatters of oil…and the house smelling of oil is a big turn off for me in the morning as well *sigh* oily kitchens and floors ruin my day LOL

  • Nicky
    July 23, 2006

    Hi Nic,
    I love fried dough, may it be sweet or salty 😉 We have a bunch of traditional Bavarian recipes with names like Küchln or Schmalzgebäck. I think I know what to do, once the heat wave we are currently experiencing is over! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • bea at La Tartine Gourmande
    July 25, 2006

    My mum used to make beignets all the time at Carnaval. I love love them, although like many, I am usually not a deep fried person.
    They look so nice!

  • -christina
    March 4, 2007

    Yummy! I love beignets. I first tasted them in a local New Orleans-esque style cafe, and they were so very soft with a nice amount of crunch but not too much. And the powdered sugar!!!!
    Hmmmm, I wonder why I suddenly crave beignets…

  • Ryan
    September 4, 2007

    The Beignets look nice. I grew up near New Orleans and love beignets.
    One comment, if you fry properly…i.e. assure oil is at 350F, fried things should not be greasy. If you have greasy fried food, it has not been properly fried. When you deep fry the liquid in the batter or fluid used in the coating will steam keeping out the oil while the crust forms. The reason most people do not like fried foods is that they have had poorly and inappropriately fried foods. Just a point of note.

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