Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Babes Let The Good Times Roll

I'm currently reading some mystery novels set in New Orleans and it seems like at least once in each book that the heroine makes it to Cafe du Monde for some chicory coffee and beignets. Every time she does, I think of the beignets because I know how delicious they can be, freshly made and shaken with powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar.

I know it's summer and a long time away from Mardi Gras, but the traditional saying  which is the title for this post is appropriate for the August BBB recipe. In July the Bread Baking Babes explored the almost extinct bialy and for August I'm asking you to gather around my kitchen counter as we make something that is also not an easily found bread and, bonus!, doesn't require turning on the oven! Of course you will need to heat up some oil to make traditional Beignets, the powdered sugar coated bread treats of New Orleans and that part of the South.

Wikipedia has this to say," Beignet (English pronunciation: /bɛnˈjeɪ/; French: [bɛɲɛ], literally bump),[1]synonymous with the English "fritter", is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry.[2] Beignets can also be made from other types of dough, including yeast dough.
Beignets are commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top.[2] They are traditionally prepared right before consumption to be eaten fresh and hot. Variations of fried dough can be found across cuisines internationally; however, the origin of the term beignet is specifically French. In the United States, beignets have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine and are customarily served as a dessert or in some sweet variation. They were brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists,[3] from "the old mother country",[4] and became a large part of home-style Creole cooking, variations often including banana or plantain – popular fruits in the port city.[5][6] Today, Café du Monde is a popular New Orleans food destination specializing in beignets with powdered sugar, coffee with chicory, and café au lait.[7] Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986.[8]"

This recipe is from Martha Stewart's blog, but I tested it ahead of time, having had a woeful experience with a Martha recipe years ago. Not sure that she always does sufficient testing on her recipes.

Anyhoo, this one makes light, airy sweet squares (bumps) that go well with coffee and tea. I suspect that if you wanted to that you could cut the dough into squares and put those squares on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze them. That way you could deep fry the frozen squares (or thawed ones) whenever you got a hankering for a New Orleans snack.

The challenge here is to get the oil hot enough to fry them up without either having them greasy or over browned. It could also be fun to flavor them in different ways...banana slices would be traditional, but consider bits of dried fruit (cherry beignets anyone?), finely chopped nuts, sunflower seeds, ground ginger and candied ginger...all possibilities. Different flours would change the flavor, too. Just don't let them get heavy. Beignets are so light they almost float away....

Do be sure to visit the other Bread Baking Babes to see what they have done with their beignets.

If you'd like to be a Buddy, I'm the Kitchen of the Month, so you can email (plachman at sonic dot net) me a photo and a short description of your experience making the beignets, plus your blog URL so that I can include you in the round-up. Just get them to me by August 29th.

from Martha Stewart's blog
Makes 16

1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm, not hot, water, about 110 degrees F
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping and for the baking sheet
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups safflower oil, for bowl and for frying
1 lb confectioner' sugar for coating (might not take this much, but close)

The wet ingredients will go into the stand mixer bowl. The dry ingredients will get mixed together and added to the wet.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm water and sugar. Stir. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy. Add the soft butter and stir. In another bowl, use a fork to stir together the milk and egg. Add to the yeast mixture and stir. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer.

In another bowl combine the flour, salt and nutmeg.

Gradually, with the mixer running on lowest speed, add 1 1/2 cups of the flour mixture. When incorporated, add another 1 3/4 cups of the flour mixture. When incorporated, turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in another 1/4 cup flour mixture and knead until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Form dough into a ball. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat whole dough ball. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a shower cap and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about an hour.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to a 12-inch square. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Transfer squares to a floured baking sheet and cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30 minutes.

While squares are rising, heat oil in a medium pot or deep-fryer until it registers 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add a few squares to the oil and fry, rolling them around constantly with a slotted spoon or spider, until golden brown all over, 1-2 minutes. Transfer beignets to a paper-towel lined baking sheet to drain. Coat immediately with confectioners' sugar while warm. Repeat process with remaining dough and more confectioners' sugar. Serve at once while still warm.

I've heard that these can be microwaved (the next morning) successfully, too.

BTW, I used soy creamer instead of the milk, non-dairy margarine instead of the butter. To make it vegan, substitute egg replacer for the egg and you have it made.


  1. Thanks so much for choosing this bread! This was a lot of fun.

  2. Now, this was a worthy challenge! Mom grew up a half hour from N'Awlins, and I have never had a beignet, and it never occurred to me to try making them. I hear the sugar just gets all up your nose, and I'm a finicky person for a mess, so they weren't on my radar - and I struggle to fry things properly, and these really have to FLOAT or they're just stodgy and heavy, from the sound of it. You have to be committed!

    Looks like you managed and I'm a bit envious. Also agree about Our Martha; I have had some real mess-ups with recipes from her - but I figure it's because I don't have staff. ;)

  3. Karen, So glad you liked it. It really is a fun way to make bread.
    Tanita, You should try it. As long as you let the dough rise and have the oil hot things should go well and you'll have light beignets. I know you can sub soy milk for regular and I'll bet you know how to make any other changes needed to the dough. If you make 'em before the end of the month let me know, OK?

  4. I could not believe how much I loved this challenge! I confess that I wasn't at all looking forward to a.) deep-frying and b.) so much sugar. But, being an obedient BBBabe (mostly), I made them anyway. I'm so glad!

    And to satisfy my need for savory bread, I stuffed some of them with cheese and coated the cheese ones with finely grated parmesan cheese. Of course, I tried both versions. They were both fabulous.

    Many thanks for a great choice, Elle!

  5. Strangely enough, and totally unintentional, but I have never made a Martha Stewart recipe. Regardless, these looked to be as success by one and all so great choice. and with less than an inch of oil I may even give them a try!

  6. Elle, thank you for giving us a reprieve from the heat and hosting such a delicious challenge. I had a lot of fun with this one.

  7. Thanks for choosing these! They were great, and now I have a tiny little fryer so I can attempt other small batches of fried things. I think I need to make more beignets first though...

  8. This was a very original choice and a lovely one too! I will have to bake them again, because mine just didn't work out like they should have this first time. Your beignets looks really appetizing and nicely risen.

  9. I hope to give these a try one day.
    Yours look so picture perfect!
    We've been to New Orleans a number of times and always enjoyed every bite of it, especially the beignets.

  10. At last, I can tell you how much I enjoyed this challenge. (The last time I tried to leave a comment, the power suddenly went out, which was a surprise!) I've had beignets locally and in New Orleans, but this is the first time I've made them at home, and it won't be the last. Thanks for a delicious challenge.