Beignets a la Cafe du Monde
For those who are keeping and eye on the calendar, 5th June was National Donut Day.
And I made these on the 6th of June.
Take that donut police!
I like the little rebel in me.
And I'm posting these a good 6 days later. Shout out to all the procrastinators out there.
Also, who doesn't love donuts everyday, all day, all week, all month.... you get the drift. In fact donuts are one of those rare desserts that have me salivating at the mere mention of them which is why I try and stay away from them as much as possible. Carbs n sugar and body weight aren't bffs! :/
These beignets, oh wait! Before we begin, don't let the name throw you off. They are pronounced as 'beyn-yays'. Beignets are donut's sister. Almost similar apart from their appearance.
These beignets soft sugary pillow-y mounds will almost melt in your mouth. They are light as feather and the perfect texture. Large pockets of air on the inside tricks the mind that you're barely eating. But don't tell me I didn't warn you, try and not eat that 4th or the 5th one as addictive as they might be. Pair it with a steaming cup of traditional cafe au lait or add some chocolate to your coffee to have the best of everything in the whole world.
I had been meaning to make beignets for mardi gras but I couldn't quite muster up the courage to play with the yeast and dough. Little did I know its so easy to make. I mean I'm not going to toot my own horn and claim I made the awesome-est beignets ever but if you try out this recipe and they come out as the best ones you've tasted, then well, who am I to argue with! Try them! I bet you won't be able to stop just at one.
Here are a few points that I'd like for you to keep in mind while playing with yeast.
a. make sure your yeast is not past its expiry date.
b. Make sure your water is slightly warm to the touch i.e. around 110F
c. feed your yeast with honey or sugar
d. let it bloom for 15 mins minimum before your start incorporating it in your recipe.
Make sure you eat the beignets as fresh as possible. They don't last more than 24 hours. Don't forget they are only donuts in disguise.
Now that thats out of the way, lets move to the recipe.
Makes: 30 beignets (depending upon the size) Share them with your friends and neighbours!
Time taken: 2 hours
3 cups + some more flour, divided
1 pckt/ 7 gms/ 1 tbsp dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 eggs or 1 extra large egg
1/2 cup milk
2 heaped tbsp softened butter
1 tbsp vanilla or (nutmeg/ cinnamon/ lemon zest)
oil for frying
powdered (confectioner's) sugar to serve
pinch of love
We begin by activating the yeast. In a bowl, add sugar and the yeast
Add in the tepid water. Allow it to bloom for 10 mins or so
You'll notice how the yeast develops bubbles and foams on the surface of the water. It means that the yeast has activated perfectly.
To this, add in the egg and vanilla. If you want to add any other flavour, now is the time. I went with the plain ole vanilla
Take 2 cups of flour in a large bowl. Create a well in the centre, Add milk in the flour.
Whisk the wet ingredients and add to the bowl with flour and milk.
Stir with a wooden spoon till it becomes all lumpy and its too wet at this time. Add in the softened butter. Make sure the butter is not having any lumps.
Add in the rest of the flour and start kneading with your hands. get in there, and knead it as best as you can.
Take the dough out on the counter and start kneading till its almost smooth. But be gently. Don't keep punching it down otherwise the yeast won't be as effective. Add a tbsp of flour more if required.
Take a large bowl and grease it with some oil.
Place the dough ball in the bowl and brush some oil over the dough as well.
Cover with a plastic wrap and allow to rest for 45 mins in a warm draft free space till it doubles in size. Sometimes this may also take an hour or so. Yeast can be temperamental like that. Just work with it.
After about an hour approximately, my dough had risen and became almost double.
Now on a floured working surface, take the dough and start rolling it out.
We want to roll out the dough to around 1/3rd" thick.
If you're lucky enough to have a square cookie cuter lying on hand, now is the time to use it. I dont have a square cookie cutter and so I used a pizza cutter to cut the dough in squares. Worked out perfectly fine. Make horizontal lines at about a distance of 2".
Cut in vertically so you get squares/ rectangles.
Pick these up and place the cut ones on a parchment paper or a floured surface so they don't start to sweat and stick.
Meanwhile when you begin to cut them, have your oil heating in a wok or fryer around 4 fingers deep. The oil should start to shimmer before you add in the beignets. To see if your oil is hot enough or not, here's a trick my mom taught me. Spoon in a tiny piece of the dough in the oil, and if it rises to the top within the first 7 seconds, your oil is perfectly hot.
Start adding the beignets one by one in the oil to fry. Make sure your heat is on medium. And almost as soon as you add them to the oil, they will start puffing up. Oh sweet lord!! Make sure you add about 4-5 at a time. Don't overcrowd the pan.
Just about a minute more.... we want a deeper colour than this
Keep flipping them every 30 seconds so they turn that perfectly sun kissed golden brown colour.
Take them out on wire rack to cool. Lay a kitchen towel under the rack so the beignets don't sit directly on the towel. This helps in absorbing the additional oil.
Once they cool down slightly, sprinkle the powdered sugar. Add some more and some more after that.
The beignets are traditionally served with heaped sugar on top. After the first sprinkling of sugar was absorbed, I added a second one!
Look how yummm!!
And the interior!
Tell me how soft does that look! Almost feather-y
I also sneaked in some mix berry jam to accompany the beignets. And Oh my God!! Will you please make them already!! They are such a sweet blessing.
Feast your eyes until then! Indulge!