In the United States, the term “beignets” is sometimes used for filled deep-fried pastries. It is more typically linked to the plain deep-fried pastry dough dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served in New Orleans accompanied by café au lait made from the local chicory-flavored coffee.
- 1 package (2 1/2 tsp.) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
- 1 cup milk
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- Peanut or canola oil for deep-frying
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter and heat gently until the milk is warm but not steaming and the butter melts. Remove from the heat.
To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together 3 cups of the flour, the granulated sugar and the salt. Gradually add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and, using a wooden spoon, stir until blended. Add the egg, the yeast mixture and the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and stir just until a soft dough forms.
To make the dough with a food processor, combine 3 cups of the flour, the granulated sugar and the salt in the processor and pulse 2 or 3 times to mix. With the processor running, pour the milk mixture through the feed tube and process until well blended. Add the egg, the yeast mixture and the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and process just until a soft dough forms.
Preheat an oven to 200°F. Line an ovenproof platter with paper towels.
In a deep, heavy saucepan, pour in oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Knead 1 piece of the dough briefly until soft but not sticky. Roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 6 equal rectangles.
When the oil is hot, place 2 or 3 rectangles into the oil and fry, turning once, until puffed and brown, about 2 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beignets to the paper towel-lined platter to drain and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining rectangles and then with the remaining dough.
Arrange the warm beignets on a serving plate. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust them with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately. Makes 12 beignets.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Breakfast and Brunch, by Georgeanne Brennan, Elinor Klivans, Jordan Mackay and Charles Pierce (Oxmoor House, 2007).