I tried two recipes for beignets, and first batch was a disaster. I admit it – I’m no expert at working with yeast or at deep frying. In fact, I was scared witless and dragged Alex to help me with deep frying. After two batches, many dirty bowls, and 3 inches of hot oil, I finally made beignets!
Beignets are famously known from New Orleans’ Cafe Du Monde, a wonderful cafe that serves coffee and beignets, covered with powdered sugar. At the end of my last year in college, a couple of friends and I drove down to New Orleans and had a chance to sample these fluffy, pillow-y beignets. They were so delicious – warm, soft, airy, and sweet.
This recipe for beignets doesn’t quite yield that airiness characteristics of Cafe Du Monde’s, but they are soft enough for me! They are great as an appetizer for a dinner party! Trust me, your guests will ooh and ahh over this unique starter. No more dinner rolls or salads – just serve these beignets!
Adapted from Yum Sugar.
1 envelope active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (not too hot)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish
Directions (I bolded the amounts of flour, as this can get confusing)
Mix together yeast, sugar, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer, with dough hooks attached. Let bloom for 5-10 minutes (it will become foamy). Add the salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, egg, milk, and 1 1/2 cups flour; mix on medium speed until combined. Add in 1 and 3/4 cups flour, and continue mixing until the dough just comes together.
Knead on a floured surface. Add in 1/4 cup flour while kneading, until dough is smooth (5 minutes). Place dough in a greased bowl, and cover with a lint free linen. Let stand in a warm spot for an hour, until dough has almost doubled in size. Punch down (always fun!).
Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut out circles. Place on a baking sheet, and let rise again for 30 minutes.
Deep frying part: don’t be scared, it’s really not that bad. I used a Dutch oven, but I have heard of people using woks as well. Heat 3 inches of oil. Using small pieces of dough, test the temperature of the oil. If the dough “bubbles” and rises within 8 seconds, it is ready. Or, if you have a deep-fry thermometer, when it registers 350ºF, it is ready.
Fry beignets in batches of four. Continue to roll them around / flip them around oil gently to ensure even frying. When they are golden brown, transfer beignets with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar! Serve warm with coffee or tea!