Donut (US), Doughnut (US), Funnel cake (US), Jalebi (India), Churros (Mexico), Zepplole(Italy), Beignets (France), Akara (South Africa), Sopaipilla ( Brazil) and the list goes on. Whatever you call almost every country has a version of fried dough, which is coated in sugar, well what’s not to love about it right?Believe me when I say this is one of the best things coming out of my kitchen, technically my mom’s kitchen as I was visiting them last week. One of my laudable qualities includes procrastinating things until last moment like writing this post.
Yeasted anything is like love of my life and when you make it fried well I am on cloud nine. This the first time I am making beignets or doughnuts. I penchant towards yeast doughnut rather than cake for taste as well that amazing smell. I kept the filling simple as I focused on making them. Beignets are one of those things that I would consider simple pleasures of life. I have no words to describe the smell of a fresh hot beignet. Don’t believe me, just take a whiff next time you eat a yeast doughnut.
A long process with dough rising slowly gives an amazing flavor and texture to them. I highly recommend using Grapeseed oil for its neutral flavor but Canola works just fine in a pinch. Follow the instructions very carefully, I know its little long but it works. One other thing is to flip them as soon as you drop them in oil. Use a timer and thermometer for a perfect golden brown color. I have used apricot preserve but a seedless raspberry would be really good too. If you have homemade jam, that would be like cherry on the top.
The cross-section of beignets was something close to work of art, strikingly stunning, which puts a smile to any ones face. So how do you like your beignets, filled or plain? What kind of unique flavors you have eaten?
Adapted from The Art of French Pastry
- 75 grams/ 1/3 cup water, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 75 grams/ 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 75 grams/ ⅓ cup water, room temperature
- 30 grams/ 2 tablespoons sugar
- 200 grams/ 1 ¾ cups bread flour
- 55 grams/ 3 egg yolks
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 55 grams/ ¼ cup/ ½ stick unsalted butter, room temperature and ½ inch cubed
- 1 to 2 quarts grapeseed or canola oil (see note)
Sugar and filling
- 100 grams/ ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste, optional
- 200 grams/ ⅔ cup preserve, optional (see note)
- In a bowl of stand mixer put water and add yeast, mix until combined. Sprinkle all-purpose flour over it, do not mix. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. You should see cracks on top, which shows yeast is activated.
- Add everything but butter and oil to the mixer bowl and mix on medium speed for 5 minute using dough hook. Stop and scrape once using rubber spatula. Do this two more times, bringing total kneading time to 15 minutes.
- Now decrease the speed to low and add one cube of butter at a time. Mix until fully incorporated. Once all of it, is incorporated, knead on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to another bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until it’s doubled in size. Room temperature should not be more than 81° F or 27° C.
- Punch the air out, wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Punch out the air again and refrigerate overnight.
- Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with kitchen towel dusted with flour. To shape divide the dough into 15 pieces (if using scale about 35 grams each). To roll lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll into tight balls. Flatten it into about 2 inch disks. Dust shaped beignets with little flour and cover with another kitchen towel.
- Let them rise for 1 ½ hours. After 1 hour of rising time, start heating the oil on medium heat. The frying vessel should be at least 3 inch deep. Using a thermometer bring the temperature of oil to 340°F. Also mix sugar and vanilla in a separate bowl, keep aside.
- Fry beignets 3 at a time. As soon as you drop them, flip them (VERY IMPORTANT), fry them for 2 ½ minutes on each side. Remove and place them on cooling rack. After 2 minutes coat them with prepared sugar and put it back on cooling rack.
- After all beignets are fried and coated with sugar, fill them with your choice of preserve.
Note: Grapeseed oil is the best for this but in a pinch use canola oil. Use a good quality preserve versus jam which has higher sugar content and no fruit flavor. I have used apricot here but use anything you have on hand.