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New Orleans-Style Beignets

Beignet means “fried dough” in French and refers to one of the great contributions of Louisiana Creole cuisine to Southern culinary tradition. The recipe makes a sizable amount, but no one can eat just one of these bite-size treats, so invite some friends over and dig in!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) cold water
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) quick-rise yeast
  • 3 3/4 cups (19 oz./590 g) all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • Canola oil for deep-frying
  • Confectioners’ sugar for serving

Directions:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the cold water, cream, sugar, butter, egg and yeast. Add 3 cups (15 oz./470 g) of the flour and the salt and beat on medium-low speed, adding enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough that does not stick to the bowl. Remove the flat beater and fit the mixer with the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is smooth but still soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Shape into a ball.

Lightly butter a large bowl. Add the dough and turn to coat with the butter. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Or, refrigerate overnight until doubled in size, 8 to 12 hours; remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before proceeding.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll out into a large rectangle about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Using a pizza wheel or a sharp knife, diagonally cut the dough into 2-inch (5-cm) strips. Cut in the other direction, also in diagonal 2-inch (5-cm) strips, to create diamond shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until the beignets rise slightly, about 15 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 200°F (95°C). Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. In a deep, heavy saucepan, pour in oil to a depth of at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) and heat to 350°F (180°C) on a deep-frying thermometer.

Using a metal spatula, carefully lower a few of the beignets into the hot oil; do not crowd the pan. Deep-fry the beignets, turning often, until puffed and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer to the rack to drain, then keep warm in the oven. Repeat to fry the remaining beignets.

Arrange the beignets on a platter, generously dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately. Makes about 40 beignets.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers (Weldon Owen, 2010).