Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Sarah Phillips © 2012 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
The word beignet (pronounced bey-YAY) comes from the early Celtic word bigne meaning "to raise." It is also French for "fritter." Beignets, a New Orleans specialty, are fried, raised pieces of yeast dough, usually about 2 inches in diameter or 2 inches square. Beignets are thought to be the forerunner of the raised doughnut. After being fried, they are sprinkled with powdered sugar or coated with various icings. I love to serve mine with chocolate sauce or raspberry jam. Plus, find out my secrets to frying the perfect beignets!
BREAD RECIPE HELP
When frying beignets, don't overcrowd them in the hot oil, otherwise the oil will cool down and the beignets will soak up the oil and be greasy or will fry up flat.
If the Beignets fail to puff up and remain flat, this is an indication the frying oil temperature is too low; let the fryer come back to temperature before cooking another batch. The only other reason the dough does not puff up would be if you rolled the beignet dough too thin. Try rolling the dough a little thicker.
3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to rim
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Canola or peanut oil for frying
Powdered sugar for serving
Make the beignet dough:
1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form at the surface. Meanwhile, rinse and dry the mixer bowl of a stand mixer with warm water, to warm it. Attach it to the stand mixer.
2. Remove the milk from the heat, and pour it into a stand mixer bowl. Add the buttermilk and the sugar and whisk it.
3. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk mixture, and stir gently, and set aside for 5 minutes until foamy.
4. Attach the dough hook attachment to the stand mixer. Add 1 cup flour and mix on low speed until just moistened. Add in the remaining flour, baking soda, and salt, with the mixer on low, until the dry ingredients are moistened, 3 to 4 minutes.
5. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough forms a loose ball and is still quite wet and tacky, 1 to 2 minutes longer.6. Cover the bowl with greased-side down piece of plastic wrap and set the dough aside in a draft-free spot for 1 hour.
Fry the beignet dough:
1. Pour enough canola oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot to fill it to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat until the temperature reaches 375 degrees F indicated on a Deep Fry Thermometer (this will take about 20 minutes) - the oil will shimmer on the surface and smell like hot oil; keep the thermometer in the pan to continually monitor.
Line a large plate or baking rack with paper towels and set aside.
2. Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out on it. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, gently press to flatten, fold it in half, and gently tuck the ends under to create a rough-shaped round.
3. Dust again and roll the dough out into a 1/2-inch- to 1/3 -inch-thick circle. Let the dough rest for 1 minute before using a chef's knife, a bench knife, or a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares (you should get about 48).
4. Taking one piece at a time, gently stretch a beignet lengthwise and carefully drop it into the oil. Add a few beignets and fry until puffed and golden brown, turning them often with a slotted spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Transfer to the paper towels to drain while you cook the rest.
Serve while still warm, heavily dusted under a mound of powdered sugar, with hot coffee on the side.
The beignet dough can be made up to 8 hours in advance of frying. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. After cutting the dough, place the beignets on the paper and place another greased sheet of parchment paper, sprayed-side down, on top. Wrap the entire baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The beignets can be fried straight from the refrigerator.
Fried foods, such as beignets, are best eaten right away, if not within an hour after they are made, otherwise they get soggy.
This recipe is adapted from by David Guas and Raquel Pelzel's book, DamGoodSweet: Desserts to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, New Orleans Style.