Beignets are famous in New Orleans. The origin of the term beignet, however, is specifically French. My friend, Anna Tina, loaded some pictures of Beignets which for some reason caught my fancy and I had to try them.
Picture credit: the niece, NN
· 3/4 cup water lukewarm
· 2 1/4 tsp yeast 1/4 cup sugar
· 1 egg
· 1/2 cup almond milk (regular milk if you are not lactose intolerant)
· 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1/2 tsp salt
· 2 tbsp butter unsalted and softened
· vegetable oil for frying
· powdered sugar for sprinkling optional
COMBINE water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk it all together a bit and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast dissolves and starts to froth up. (if it doesn’t froth. Discard. Try again)
ADD the egg, milk and whisk to the above mixture.
COMBINE the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and butter to the bowl. Mix it well until well incorporated. You will know that the dough is done when it comes clean from the sides of the bowl. Remove the dough and place in an oiled bowl. Cover it with a clean damp towel or plastic wrap and let it sit and double in size, anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, in a warm place.
ROLL the dough in a long rectangle that’s about 3/4 of an inch in thickness. Cut the dough in long strips then cut the strips to form squares.
ADD about 3 inches of oil to a deep frying pan. Heat the oil well.
FRY the beignets, about 5 or 6 at a time until golden brown on both sides. Turn them on both sides to fry them evenly.
TRANSFER the beignets to a large bowl lined with paper towels to drain some of the excess oil. Sprinkle beignets with powdered sugar and serve.
A word about the yeast.
a) Always check the expiry date of the yeast.
b) To keep your yeast fresh and longer lasting, unopened yeast packages or jars should be stored in a cool or dry place such as your cupboard. However, you can also store your yeast in the fridge or freezer.
c) If you do store it in the freezer and need to use yeast for your baking, make sure you take out the amount you need and let it sit at room temperature for at least half hour before using.
d) Once your yeast package or jar has been opened, you must refrigerate the yeast or freeze it in an airtight container.
e) The yeast is a living organism and over time it will lose activity, even if you’ve never opened the jar or package. So if you don’t bake often, buy the smaller yeast packages rather than a big jar of yeast.
f) Make sure your water is not too hot or it the yeast will commit suicide! The ideal temperature for the water should be what your finger can tolerate!
g) If after dissolving the yeast in the lukewarm water with the sugar, the yeast didn’t start to froth up, do not continue with the donuts, your dough will not rise.
h) You could also use instant or rapid-rise yeast instead of the active dry yeast. If you do, you do not need to dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. It could be mixed right into the dough.