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Who knew a state could have an official doughnut? Does that mean that to be a true resident you need to eat it every day? Might be time for me to move to the Big Easy (emphasis on the BIG!)...
Beignets are a traditional deep-fried doughnut, sometimes filled, sometimes powdered with sugar, sometimes glazed, sometimes savory, always delicious. They are the state doughnut, and the primary export of the famous Cafe du Monde, a coffee stand on Decatur St in New Orleans.
I've only visited New Orleans once, and I didn't stop by the cafe; but since my sister just returned to her school there after Christmas break, it seemed appropriate to post this recipe in honor of her!
Enjoy coming up with fanciful glazes and toppings ... the possibilities are quite, quite endless.
|beignets with maple glaze (recipe below)|
This recipe is from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking (one of my most-abused oft-used well-beloved books!).
3/4 c water
2 cups (8 oz) whole wheat flour
1/2 cup half-and-half (I used milk with no ill effects)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 cups (8-1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
5 to 6 cups vegetable or peanut oil for frying
See below for glaze and dusting ideas
To make the dough: Pour water into a mixing bowl. Add the whole wheat flour and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes to soften the bran in the flour.
Beat the half-and-half, egg, butter, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Stir this into the flour mixture. Add the yeast and all-purpose flour, and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap and let rise until it has doubled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface. Knead out any stray bubbles and let rest for about 5 minutes to relax the gluten. While you roll out and shape the beignets, start heating the oil to 365F. You should have at least 2 inches of oil in the pan.
To shape the beignets: Roll the dough out to a rectangle roughly 12 x 20 inches and 1/4 inch thick. Use a flour sprinkled bench knife or bowl scrape to keep the dough free from the kneading surface. You may need to throw a bit of flour underneath from time to time to keep the dough from sticking. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into the size squares you want your beignets to be. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rest while the oil heats.
To fry: Once the oil is hot, slip in 4 or 5 beignets at a time and cook for about 1 minute before you flip them over. Let them cook another 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, flipping them back and forth so they brown evenly. Sometimes they won't want to turn over because they puff up so much! Use your spoon to turn it and gently hold it in place until the underside is brown enough. When the beignets are done, remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel, or on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
Toss with powdered sugar, cinnamon-sugar, or the dusting of your choice; or,
Mix 2 cups (8 oz) confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup water, coffee, or milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, lemon juice, or 2 tablespoons warmed honey.
For my maple glaze, I mixed confectioners sugar with maple syrup until it made a runny glaze, and dipped and rolled the beignets. Set them on a plate so the glaze can firm up.
Roll in a very thin chocolate frosting ...
The dough is rich and tasty enough that you could serve them plain! Or, use a frosting bag to pipe in jelly or some other custard, chocolate, or fruit filling. If you have any other tasty ideas that you enjoy, post them in the comments!