In New Orleans, beignets are a fried yeasted dough served with confectioners’ sugar on top. They are traditionally prepared right before they’re served to be eaten fresh and hot. They were brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists, and made famous by the Café du Monde.
No visit to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to Café du Monde. Our recent visit to New Orleans was no exception. As we were devouring the delicious Beignets, Susan suggested that we should make some when we got home. I agreed!
When Susan was little, her grandmother made her Beignets. Susan’s favorite part was cutting out the pieces of dough with a pizza cutter. She claimed that prized task with these Beignets!
Ingredients for Beignets:
I used the following ingredients: Water, evaporated milk, egg, vanilla extract, sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast.
Rather than hauling out the stand mixer, I decided to make the dough in my little bread machine. I added the ingredients in the order listed and turned on the machine on the dough cycle. Instead of letting the machine go through the whole cycle, I removed the dough after the kneading had finished. I placed it into an oiled 8-cup mixing bowl, covered the cup with plastic wrap, and put it into the refrigerator. I had read that it’s better to refrigerate the Beignet dough over night, which is what I did.
This morning, I removed some of the dough from the refrigerator and rolled it out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Because the dough was cold, it took a bit of time to roll it to about ¼-inch thick. I covered the rolled out dough with another piece of parchment paper and let it sit until it had doubled in thickness.
Making the Beignets:
I heated canola oil in a Dutch oven to 360° F with an instant read thermometer attached to the side of the pan. While the oil was heating, Susan cut the Beignets into rectangles that were roughly 2 x 3-inches in size. As one might imagine, the rolled out dough was not perfectly rectangular, so she cut some “scraps” to start with.
When we were at the Café du Monde, we watched how the Beignets were made. A key part was the lowering of a type of grate to hold the Beignets down once they were tossed into the hot oil. We quickly discovered why this was necessary. When the Beignet dough was put into the hot oil, it quickly puffed up, making it virtually impossible to turn it over. Therefore, we needed something to hold the Beignets under the hot oil. After trying several things, we found that the use of two forks worked well as did a wire strainer.
At 360° F, the optimal time of cooking the Beignets was 1 minute, with 15 seconds on one side, at this point the Beignet will begin to puff up, immediately flip it over and cook for 30 seconds, then flip it back over and finish it off for a final 15 seconds. When the Beignets were golden brown, Susan removed them from the hot oil to a plate lined with paper towels.
I don’t think that they were exactly the same as those at Café du Monde, but they were mighty close. This recipe makes a lot, so we put the cut pieces that we didn’t cook in the freezer in a single layer for later consumption. Yum!