A few years ago Adam and I travelled the length and breadth of the USA on a set of amtrak trains and greyhound buses, one of our favourite stops was New Orleans. It was a couple of years after Katrina, but the devastation was still oh-so-very apparent. We stayed in a little hostel that was the only occupied residence on the street, and was home to a hurricane survivor kitty. One of the things we loved about New Orleans (alongside the music) was the cuisine, from oyster po’ boys to gumbo, we sampled a super tonne of it. So here’s another recipe from that huge cook-off we had at my house a few months ago, beignets!
What’s a beignet? Well, there’s this little café (read, supremely busy bustling canteen style café) in New Orleans called Café Du Monde who supply tourist folks with hot chicory flavoured coffee and delightful french square shaped doughnuts covered with a HEAP of confectioners sugar (for British folk, icing sugar). Read more about the on beignets wikipedia page.
3.5g Dry yeast (half a sachet usually)
200ml lukewarm water
60g caster sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
125ml evaporated milk
525g strong white bread flour
30g butter/trex/stork… any kind of cooking fat really
Oil for deep frying, or borrow a fryer
1 packet icing/confectioners sugar
Nice and easy, but kinda sticky!
- Combine the water, sugar and yeast in a big mixing bowl and wait for 10 minutes. If you’re using easy bake yeast, you can skip the ‘wait for 10 minutes’.
- In another bowl beat together the egg, evaporated milk & salt. Add this to the yeast mixture.
- Add half the flour to the mixture in the large bowl, and mix together.
- Add the fat and stir fully, then keep stirring while you add the remaining flour.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface, knead (if it’s not too sticky) until smooth. If you have a super sticky dough, just knead as best you can and add a little extra flour. It’s ok, everything’ll come up Milhouse in the end.
- Clean out your bowl and oil slightly, return the dough to the bowl and cover with cling film. Place in a warm place to rise for a few hours (ours turned into a gigantic beignet dough monster, amazing).
- Preheat you deep fat fryer or oil pan to 180ºc, put your icing sugar in a plastic food bag (you know, like a freezer bag) ready for beignet coating.
- Roll the dough if you can to about 1cm thick and cut into 5-7cm square pieces. If you can’t roll due to stickiness (we had this problem) then just tear off lumps and flatten/pull them into shape. Deep fry these until they’re golden brown, turning them over constantly for an even cooking.
- Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain away the excess oil. Place them in the bag of icing sugar and, keeping a firm grip on the opening!, shake to coat them fully.
- Serve them with a giant pile of icing sugar on top… and with coffee, of course!
Not a great photo because of low light and beer, but man, these were gooood.