From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Beignet (pronounced /bɛnˈjeɪ/ in English, /bɛˈɲɛ/ in French; French, literally “bump“), synonymous with the English “fritter”, is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux paste. Beignets are commonly known in the U.S. as a dessert served with powdered sugar on top; however, they may be savory dishes as well and may contain meat, vegetables, or fruits. 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 U.S., 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 Louisiana in the 18th century by French colonists, from “the old mother country”, and became a large part of home-style Creole cooking, variations often including banana or plantain – popular fruits in the port city. Today, Café du Monde is a popular New Orleans food destination specializing in beignets with powdered sugar (served in threes), coffee with chicory, and café au lait. Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986.
The tradition of deep-frying fruits for a side dish dates to the time of Ancient Rome, while the tradition of beignets in Europe is speculated to have originated with a heavy influence of Islamic culinary tradition. The term beignet can be applied to two varieties, depending on the type of pastry. The French-style beignet in the United States has the specific meaning of deep-fried choux pastry. Beignets can also be made with yeast pastry, which might be called boules de Berlin in French, referring to Berliner doughnuts which have a spherical shape (i.e. they do not have the typical doughnut hole) filled with fruit or jam.
Yields: 18-24 beignets
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 25 min
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, room temperature and beaten
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying*
- Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar for dusting
* Use just enough vegetable oil to completely cover beignets while frying – approximately 2 inches deep in the pan.
Stand-up Mixer: Using a mixer with a dough hook, place water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl. Beat until smooth. Remove dough from bowl and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.
Bread Machine: Using a bread machine, add the ingredient (listed above) in the order given to the bread machine. Select Dough Setting and press. When dough cycle has finished, remove dough from pan and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.
Food Processor:Using a food processor, place water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl of the processor. Pulse just until smooth. Remove dough from bowl and turn out onto a lightly-oiled surface. Form dough into an oval, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.
Making the Beignets: Remove the prepared dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into approximately 3-inch squares, triangles, or circles (your choice); set aside.
- In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil to 360 degrees F.
- Slide the dough pieces slowly into the hot oil(this is to avoid splattering) and fry the beignets (2 or 3 at a time) approximately 2 to 3 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides; turning them in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown. The beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff. NOTE: If the beignets don’t rise to the top immediately when dropped into the oil, the oil is not hot enough. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
- While the beignets are still warm, sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar. An easy way to coat the hot beignets in powdered sugar is to place the powdered sugar an a clean bag. Add the beignets to the bag, hold bag close and shake to coat evenly.
- Serve while still warm. Grab yourself a steaming cup of your favorite hot coffee and enjoy!–gcc
The dough can be kept for up to 1 week in the refrigerator – it actually improves with age; just punch down when it rises. Dough can also be frozen; cut and roll, or shape doughnuts before freezing.