Tuesday, April 6, 2010
It is rare for me to find a piece of fried dough that I don't like. Beignets are no exception and apparently that goes for every other red-blooded person I happened to mention these little treats to. I have a few friends who knew what Beignets are and there were two memories that stick out, one was eating them while traveling in Africa and the other during time spent in New Orleans.
The first memory of Africa had me a little worried; somehow getting them abroad automatically ups the ante for the at-home cook trying to replicate a classic. I went ahead anyway and he loved them. I asked how they compared to the African version and he said just the fact that there were no rocks, dirt or other foreign substances on the paper I was serving them on automatically put them ahead of those he had overseas. Wow, talk about rustic!
The second memory was from a co-worker who spent time in New Orleans where they apparently serve these up like candy. I have never been to the bayou but I have been told that beignets are typically served with their famous deeply rich chicory coffee. The thought of strong coffee and these airy little sweet treats almost makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning for breakfast! Enjoy! AJ
Recipe adapted from Epicurious
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons sour cream
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour plus extra for flouring work surface
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Peanut oil for frying
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form at the surface. Remove from the heat, add the buttermilk and sour cream and then pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar and set aside for 5 minutes.
Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low speed, using a dough hook, until the dry ingredients are moistened, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium and continue mixing until the dough forms a loose ball and is still quite wet and tacky, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough aside in a draft-free spot for 1 hour.
Pour enough peanut oil into a large pot to fill it to a depth of 3 inches and bring to a temperature of 375°F over medium heat (this will take about 20 minutes). Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out on it. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, gently press to flatten, fold it in half, and gently tuck the ends under to create a rough-shaped round. Dust again and roll the dough out into a ½-inch- to ¹/³ -inch-thick circle. Let the dough rest for 1 minute before using a chef's knife, a bench knife, or a pizza wheel to cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares (you should get about 48).
Gently stretch a beignet lengthwise and carefully drop it into the oil. Add a few beignets (don't overcrowd them, otherwise the oil will cool down and the beignets will soak up oil and be greasy) and fry until puffed and golden brown, turning them often with a slotted spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate to drain while you cook the rest. Serve while still warm, buried under a mound of confectioners' sugar, with hot coffee on the side.