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Like many delicious treats, this preparation takes a bit of time and planning. You can speed up the process of proofing the dough if you leave the dough covered at room temperature for an hour or so, instead of letting it rest in the refrigerator overnight.
Adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook by John Besh.
Click here to see A Big Easy Dinner Menu.
- 1 cup lukewarm milk, about 110 degrees
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 package dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup melted butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4-6 cups canola oil
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Pour the warm milk into a large bowl. Mix 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, the yeast, and a heaping tablespoon of the flour into the milk, mixing with a whisk, until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.
Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, salt, and vanilla. Add the remaining flour and sugar, folding them into the wet ingredients with a large rubber spatula. Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for about 5 minutes, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 6–8 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of ¼ inch. Cut into 2-inch squares, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow the beignets rise for about an hour.
Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Use a candy thermometer to check temperature. Fry the beignets in small batches in the hot oil, turning them every 30 seconds or so with tongs, until golden brown all over. Use tongs to remove beignets from the oil and drain on paper towels. Put the powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer and dust the warm beignets generously with the sugar.
Easy Classic French Beignets
This easy, yeast-free beignet recipe is a snap to throw together the morning after your Mardi Gras celebration.
As a classic and traditional French recipe, this one will not produce the French Quarter-style beignets that are so familiar in New Orleans. Instead, it is made with choux pastry dough, which is the dough used in cream puffs and éclairs. Made using only butter, water, flour, and eggs, the moisture in the dough allows it to rise without the need for yeast. This is what makes it the easiest version of beignets, and you can make them on the spur of the moment.
Absolutely delicious, these French beignets puff up wonderfully when deep-fried. The batter includes a high proportion of eggs, so the taste is reminiscent of French toast. It's a tasty change, a fun recipe to try, and they're wonderful when served alongside fresh fruit or preserves.
You can use a deep fryer or a pan that is deep enough for the oil to fry the beignets. A deep fryer should allow setting the temperature, but you will need to use a thermometer if using a pan.
This recipe makes the traditional beignet, a signature yeast-raised breakfast treat native to New Orleans. Incredibly strong black coffee laced with chicory is the classic accompaniment.
- 1/2 cup (113g) lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup (113g) lukewarm milk
- 2 tablespoons (28g) butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons (12g) salt
- 4 cups (482g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
*Looking for that distinctive "bakery" flavor? Substitute 1/2 teaspoon Buttery Sweet Dough Flavor (widely available online) for the vanilla.
Combine all of the ingredients, and mix and knead them together — by hand, mixer or bread machine — until you've made a soft, smooth dough.
Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 hour, or until it's puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
Gently deflate the dough, and place it in a greased bowl or greased plastic bag, choosing a bowl or bag that will allow the dough to expand. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 2 days.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and place it on a lightly greased or floured work surface a silicone rolling mat works well here.
Roll it into a 14" x 10" rectangle, squaring off the corners as well as you can without being overly fussy.
Cut the dough into 2" squares.
Pour peanut, safflower, or canola oil to a depth of at least 3/4" in a 10" electric fry pan (first choice), or a deep, heavy-bottomed 10" frying pan set over a burner.
Heat the oil to 360°F, and drop 5 or 6 squares of dough into the hot oil. They'll sink to the bottom, then after about 5 seconds or so, rise to the top.
Fry the beignets for 1 minute, then use a pair of tongs to turn them over. Fry for another minute, until the beignets are puffed and golden brown all over.
Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
When the beignets are cool, sprinkle them heavily with confectioners' sugar. For a real New Orleans experience, serve with strong coffee.
Beignets Recipe | Cook the Book
When it comes to eating, my policy can be roughly translated to carpe diem—I never want to miss out on a potentially delicious experience. Sadly, this was not the case when I visited New Orleans a number of years ago. I was a strict vegetarian then, and that meant that I missed out on almost all of the city's culinary offerings. I can't recall what I ate on that trip, but I can assure you it did not include gumbo, po'boys, or even red beans and rice for fear that there might be meat lurking somewhere in the mix.
The one and only eating experience that does resonate is beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde. The beignets were light, sweet, and incredibly messy from the heavy dusting of powdered sugar they were finished with. They were entirely memorable.
It had been a while since I thought about those ethereal beignets, and then I came upon John Besh's recipe in My New Orleans.
I decided to try Besh's version and see how they measured up to the beignets I had at Café du Monde. The dough was a simple affair, not too different from a yeasted dough used to make doughnuts. My attempt ended up a little less lacy and airy than the ones that I had eaten in New Orleans, but the flavors were all there and the beignets were crisp and almost caramelized on the outside and light within—just as messy and satisfying.
Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Christine Albano.
The French might have been the first to deep-fry choux pastry, but it’s in New Orleans that beignets became a true mainstay in bakeries and cafes. This version is relatively easy to make at home: The yeast-leavened dough comes together quickly, is very forgiving to work with and fries up light and airy. The yeast must be fresh and active: Once stirred with warm water and sugar, let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. If the yeast is fresh, it will create a foamy, bubbly layer on top. (If this doesn’t happen, you’ll need to start over with new yeast.) You can cook the beignets in a Dutch oven or deep skillet, no deep-fryer necessary. To obtain the perfect puffs, fry the fritters in batches so they have plenty of room to cook evenly on all sides. Beignets are best eaten hot, buried in a blanket of powdered sugar.
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- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 3 tablespoons chilled shortening, cut into pieces
- ¾ cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Vegetable oil
- Wax paper
- Powdered sugar
Place flour in a large bowl. Cut shortening into flour with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Combine hot water and sugar in a small bowl, stirring until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature add vanilla, if desired. Add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring with a fork just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Dough will be sticky.)
Pour oil to depth of 3 inches in a Dutch oven heat to 375°.
Meanwhile, turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and knead lightly 3 or 4 times. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness cut into 2-inch squares, and place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Let dough rest 10 minutes.
Fry beignets, in batches, 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels, and dust generously with powdered sugar. Serve hot.
@depglass I've seen boxes of beignet mix in grocery stores. Maybe if it not in yours, Amazon might have it. I suppose they're fried just like donuts.
05-17-2021 02:50 PM - edited 05-17-2021 02:52 PM
This is the recipe my SIL fries in her biggest Dutch oven:
1 cup water heated to 110 degrees
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus 2 quarts for frying
Stir water, 1 tbsp sugar, and yeast in big bowl. Let sit until foamy. Stir flour, 2 tbsp sugar, and salt in another bowl. Whisk eggs and 2 tbsp oil into bowl with yeast. Stir in flour mixture until dough forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Place half of risen dough on well-floured surface and work into rectangle with floured hands. Flip to coat with flour. Roll into 1/4" thick 9x12" rectangle. Cut into twelve 3" squares with pizza wheel. Set on parchment-lined and well-floured baking sheet. Repeat with other half of dough.
Pour 1 1/2" deep of oil into Dutch oven and heat to 350 degrees. Fry 6 beignets for 3 minutes until golden, flipping after 90 seconds. Remove with slotted spoon onto wire rack set inside baking sheet. Dust with powdered sugar.
Overall, this is a good recipe with good flavor. I would warn to add the last of the flour slowly I felt that the full 4 cups was too much and may have contributed to a tough dough. I would recommend letting the dough warm somewhat before attempting to roll it out - it is not very pliable when cold. I also had to religiously monitor the temperature of the oil - at 350, I did get some puff, but any hotter they were too dense.
We just returned from New Orleans and a visit to Chef Besh's Restaurant August. I bought his cookbook recently and have made several recipes, including these beignets, which were absolutely fabulous, especially with our gourmet "dunking" sauces. See our blog post here, with our notes/suggestions on the recipe: http://newfinmysoup.blogspot.com/2011/03/crown-city-beignets.html
i thought that this recipe looked like a good pick for new years brunch. they tasted good - but i have had better luck with other recipes. the dough was nice but a little too dense, they did not puff up like the little pillows i was expecting. and my yeast was new. the recipe is fussy with the last rise. as an aside, we like our beignets bite sized instead of 2" squares - but that shoudln't have affected how the dough behaved in the oil.
LOL! The e-mailed version of this recipe deleted the dash in "refrigerate 6 - 8 hours." So I read it as "refrigerate 68 hours." The beignets were good, but not as light and fluffy as I had expected. most likely due to my misread of the recipe. Looking forward to trying this recipe again.
delicious. I actually like my with a dab of orange honey butter, tucked inside. Add a cup of strong black french roast coffee on the side, and your in heaven.