Beignets
(New Orleans Doughnuts)

Beignets (New Orleans Doughnuts)

Beignets (pronounced bay-nyay) are close cousins to French boules de Berlin and were brought to New Orleans by the Acadians, French settlers exiled from Canada who relocated to Louisiana in the late 1700s. Beignets are traditionally served for breakfast with bitter chicory coffee but are delicious at any time of day. There’s a bunch of coffee stands in New Orleans called Café Du Monde that serve virtually nothing but coffee and these deep-fried sugar-dusted fritters; they even ship beignet mix and cans of their coffee and chicory blend across the USA! This recipe makes a lot, you could halve it if you like and weigh the beaten egg to measure half; but you can reheat cooked beignets in the oven for a few minutes and refrigerate the uncooked dough overnight or freeze it to use later. It’s a very soft dough and I find it’s easier to work with after it’s been refrigerated. As you need to keep the beignet moving in the hot oil, it’s best to only fry 4–6 at a time.

Makes about 80 pieces

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 3.5g dried yeast (¾ teaspoon)
  • ¼ cup castor sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 40g butter, melted
  • Pinch salt flakes, crushed
  • 3½ cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
Method
  1. Combine water, yeast and ½ teaspoon of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, cover and set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes, until it starts to froth.
  2. Add milk, egg, butter, salt and remaining sugar and mix to combine.
  3. Add flour and mix for 2–3 minutes, until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.
  4. Cover and set aside in a warm place for an hour or 2, until doubled in size.
  5. Divide dough in half. Wrap one half in plastic and set aside.
  6. On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the other half into a 1cm thick square or rectangle.
  7. Cut it into 3cm squares, transfer them to a flour dusted plate and refrigerate.
  8. Repeat with remaining dough (or refrigerate or freeze it to use later).
  9. Heat oil for deep-frying; remove squares from fridge about 5 minutes before you’re ready to cook.
  10. Fry squares a few at a time, turning almost constantly, for about 1½ –2 minutes, until crisp and dark golden.
  11. Drain on a rack over a paper towel-lined plate.
  12. Sieve some icing sugar into a large bowl, add beignets, sieve more icing sugar on top and toss to coat well.
  13. Transfer to a serving plate and top with more icing sugar (they need a very generous dusting).
  14. Serve warm.

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