Beignets… they truly are a beautiful thing. Pronounced “ben-yay”… they are the state donut of Louisiana. Does your state have a designated “state donut”?! Mine doesn’t…
They are light and fluffy, sweet and satisfying… and come with a disclaimer: they are not doctor approved. :::Thinking to self: thank goodness January 1’s resolutions don’t come into play until next week:::
Here’s what I started with…
Flour, vegetable shortening, sugar, active dry yeart, kosher salt, powdered sugar, eggs and evaporated milk.
Start with blooming the yeast in some warm water…
And here’s a tip from Lori: while using active dry yeast that has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer it will help to bloom the yeast by adding a pinch of sugar to the water mixture. Sugar increases the yeast’s activity, which will speed up the blooming process. (Some bakers might argue with this… and say that sugar isn’t required. And it’s not. It’s just what I like to do… )
Using your stand mixer, transfer the yeast/water mixture to the proper mixing bowl and set the mixer on low speed. Then add the eggs, sugar, kosher salt and evaporated milk.
Add 4 cups of flour… and then the vegetable shortening. Mix until smooth.
Then you will want to switch attachments… remove the whisk and replace with the dough hook. Because you’re getting ready to add 3 more cups of flour…
You may find that the dough gets to be too big of a ball for the mixer. So, then I turned it all out onto a floured/flat surface and kneaded in the rest of the flour. This just took a few minutes.
The dough then went back into the mixing bowl, was covered with plastic wrap and allowed to chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Once you’re ready to fry these little beauties, do two things:
1) Heat up your oil…
2) Divide the dough into 4 smaller pieces. With a floured rolling pin roll out the dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2-3″ pieces… you will have both squares and triangles, depending on how you roll out the dough. (No need to trim your dough pieces into perfect shapes – when they fry they will change shapes.)
Find your strainer/skimmer (also known as a “spider” – not sure why), or some sort of kitchen gadget that will allow you to flip the dough in the oil and strain the oil off before you move it to the plate to cool.
Once the oil has hit the 360 degrees F mark try frying 1 dough piece. The oil will slightly sizzle/bubble. The dough will sink, but will begin to float within about 5 seconds. Within a minute the dough will start to brown around the edges. With your spider, flip the dough over – you are looking for a golden brown color. Allow to cook for about another minute and flip again to check doneness.
Once you have determined it is done, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and generously sprinkle with powdered sugar (while hot). Allow to cool for several minutes before enjoying…
After you’ve stopped drooling, move on to another batch of 2 or 3 or 4 dough pieces at a time.
As they finish, remove the cooked beignets and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
And for my little addition (not sure if this would be acceptable or not in New Orleans), sprinkle the plate with a pinch of kosher salt … and enjoy thoroughly.
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale
1 ½ cups warm water (110-110 degrees F)
1 envelope active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoon)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces evaporated milk
7-8 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2-3 cups canola oil
Powdered sugar/kosher salt for sprinkling
Remove bowl from stand mixer and add 1 ½ cups of warm water. Sprinkle one envelope of active dry yeast over the top of the water, add one pinch of sugar and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes. Place bowl back into stand mixer with whisk attachment.
Add whisked eggs to the water and yeast mixture. Turning the mixer onto low, add ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 8 ounces of evaporated milk. Mix thoroughly.
With the mixer on low speed, add 4 cups flour to the wet ingredients. Whisk until smooth. Add ¼ cup of vegetable shortening and beat until smooth. Switch to dough hook and gradually add in 3 more cups flour until a smooth, thick dough is achieved. Towards the end you may need to turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface to knead in the rest of the dough.
Make large ball out of dough, place back into the bottom of the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours. (You can make the dough ahead of time –however use the dough within a week.)
When ready to finish the beignets, start by heating the canola oil in a heavy bottom pan, ideally a dutch oven. You will want approximately 4 inches of oil in the bottom of your pan. The oil is ready to use once it has reached 360 degrees F.
For ease of handling, divide beignet dough into 4 portions. Transfer one portion of beignet dough out onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut into 2-3 inches, you will most likely have squares and triangles.
Start by testing one piece of dough. The oil should sizzle, slightly bubble. The dough will sink, but will begin to float within about 5 seconds. Within a minute the dough will start to brown around the edges. With your spider, flip the dough over – you are looking for a golden brown color. Allow to cook for about another minute and flip again to check doneness. With spider, remove to plate lined with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Allow to cool several minutes before testing. When you bite into it you will see the inside is hollow. If the first one has turned out ok – then continue on with the rest of the dough pieces. Right before serving, sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt over the top. Serve hot. Yield: 40-50 beignets.
Optional toppings/fillings: instead top with a chocolate glaze, or fill/serve with a fruit preserve, etc. There are also savory versions of beignets… have fun!!!
enjoy your time in the kitchen…