18 January 2024

New Orleans-Style Beignets

New Orleans-Style Beignets / www.delightfulrepast.com

I remember well the first time I had beignets many years ago, breakfasting alone in a charming cafe. One simply does not go to New Orleans for the first time and not have beignets and cafe au lait in the morning. I worked out my own recipe on my return but have never blogged it.

If you've never made beignets (pronounced BEN-yay), you might think it would be difficult or complicated. It is not. It's really quite easy, though I'm not fond of deep-frying. I had intended to fry just half today and half tomorrow, since they are at their best served right away. But I got carried away and cooked them all! Fortunately, Mr Delightful quite likes them reheated briefly in the microwave, so they won't go to waste.

Traditionally, they are quite plain, no spices. But I like a bit of cardamom in them myself, so I listed it as "optional" in the recipe. And they are traditionally paired with cafe au lait or coffee, which I had in New Orleans, but here at home I find they pair beautifully with my black teas.

Nice thing is, the dough rests in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours, then all you have to do in the morning is quickly roll out the dough and cut them, heat up your oil, and get ready to wow your breakfast guests! 

I hope you'll make a batch soon and let me know how you like them.

New Orleans-Style Beignets / www.delightfulrepast.com

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New Orleans-Style Beignets

(Makes 36)

3 1/3 dip-and-sweep cups (16.66 ounces/472 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cardamom, optional
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) milk
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces/118 ml) water
2 tablespoons (1 ounce/28 grams) unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for finishing

1 Make the dough the day before. In a 2- to 2.5-quart bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. In a 2-cup glass measure in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove, heat the milk and water until hot but not boiling. Stir in the butter until it is melted.  With dough whisk or large wooden spoon, stir the liquid and the egg into the flour mixture until thoroughly mixed. Stir for 1 or 2 minutes, then stir in the remaining 1 1/3 cups flour a half at a time to form a soft dough.

2 Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour at room temperature until puffy but not necessarily doubled; then gently deflate it right in the bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.  

3 Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Roll it into a bit larger than 12-inch square, making it as even as possible, trimming the edges to make a 12-inch square. I use a plastic pizza wheel. Cut the dough into 36 2-inch squares. Let them rest at room temperature while you heat the oil.

In a Dutch oven, pour the oil to a depth of 3/4 inch in the pan. Heat the oil on medium-high to 360 to 370F/182 to 187C (takes about 12 minutes on my stove). Line a baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels. Drop 6 squares into the hot oil. They will sink to the bottom for a few seconds and then rise to the top. Fry for 1 minute, spooning hot oil over them. Use tongs to turn them over. Fry for another minute until puffed and evenly golden. Remove them to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Check the oil temperature from time to time to be sure it is hot enough.

Note: I use my Thermapen ONE to check the oil temperature.

5 Repeat until all the dough squares are cooked. OR you can freeze dough squares, with parchment paper between layers, to bake at a later date.

6 Just before serving, dust them heavily with powdered sugar if you like to be authentic, or lightly if you're like me and not that fond of lots of sugar. I use just 1/8 cup (0.5 ounce/14 grams) to dust the lot.

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