Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Beignets - New Orleans Doughnuts

When Dave and I went to New Orleans last year I fell in love with the city and thoroughly enjoyed myself, but one of the highlights was  Beignets at Cafe Du Monde . When I decided to do a New Orleans dinner I had to try to recreate them

Eating Beignets in New Orleans
I used the recipe from John Besh's "My New Orleans" cookbook and for once I did not deviate at all.

1 cup of lukewarm milk
1/2 cup of sugar
1 package of dried yeast
4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
4 - 6 cups of canola oil
1 cup of icing sugar (I used way more)

Pour the warm milk into a large bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the yeast and a heaping tablespoon of the flour.  Mix to dissolve the sugar and yeast.

Leave until frothy about 10 minutes add the flour, butter, sugar and vanilla.  Folding in with the a rubber spatula.  Knead the dough by hand in the bowl for about 5 minutes (or 2 if you get bored) and leave to rest an raise for an hour.

Dough ready to rise
Then roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick and cut into 2 inch squares.

Bring a large pot of oil up to temperature.  Test by putting a small bit of dough in and when it bubbles and expands right away you are good to go.  Fry in small batches of 3 or 5 pieces of dough at a time. Turn after about a minute, when the are puffed up and golden on the underside.

Dough almost ready to turn

Beignets ready
As they come out of the hot fat coat with lots of Icing sugar, this is how they were in New Orleans and this is how they should be.  I was ably aided by my beautiful assistant The Cottagers Wife who along with The Cottager were over for dinner.  This would be hard job for one, as some one needs to be coating while the other is frying.

Completed Beignets
Normally I do not like to cook anything that takes me away from the table during a dinner, so usually I make a dessert that is made ahead, but these were worth it.  Were they as good as the ones in New Orleans? An unfair question the ambiance adds a lot to a meal and also it is like your first love, it is hard to forget the first time you eat a new delicious food.

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