Originally published in The Northern Light

Over break, I toured America’s southeast, from Washington D.C. to the Big Easy, New Orleans. I waited in a long line for the famous French doughnut offered at Café Du Monde. Their beignets are known worldwide and New Orleans has been serving them in the French Quarter since 1862. To satiate my cravings, I decided to make them at home. You can order their beignet mix online, or you can follow this copy-cat recipe I found through The Food Hacker. It will take a little bit of work, and unfortunately there’s no curb-side jazz music to accompany the wait for these powdered sugared morsels. You’ll need a frying pan. Café Du Monde fries their beignets with cottonseed oil, but any vegetable oil you want to use is fine.

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted
  • Cottonseed oil, or vegetable oil of your choice for frying
  • Plenty of powdered sugar to dust on top when complete

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let it sit for about 15 minutes until frothy.
  2. Add the milk, egg and salt to the mixing bowl. Whisk it together. Add in half of the flour and mix in with a large spoon. Mix in the shortening.
  3. Add the rest of the flour and mix until you are able to knead dough with your hands. Put out on a floured surface and knead until the dough it’s smooth.
  4. Let the dough double in size in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a damp cloth for an hour.
  5. Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil to 370 degrees in a frying pan.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into 2 inch squares. Fry 3 to 4 squares at a time. Don’t fry too many at once or the temperature of the oil will fall and the beignets won’t turn out puffy. Drop each square into the oil and use a spoon to splash the oil on top of the dough as it floats. Do this for 45 seconds and then flip the beignet over and repeat the splashing on the other side. Keep flipping the beignet over until they achieve a golden brown color. This process should take about three minutes. Place them on a plate covered with a paper towel to cool. Dust them with powdered sugar.

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