Up until I was about 12 years old, my parents took my sister, Tracy, and me to Easter service at the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. The only way they could keep us in check during mass was by bribing us to be good and quiet with promises of post-church beignets at Cafe du Monde across the street. We’d get so excited about the prospect of massive quantities of sugar that we probably would have done pretty much anything to ensure we got beignets before going home. Mom was a bit of a stickler when it came to sweets; I mean, at our house, Raisin Bran® was considered toeing the line of junk food! So you can only imagine how amped up we were at the mere prospect of real, honest-to-goodness fried dough piled sky-high with a mountain of powdered sugar.
Like good southern kids we were dressed to the nines-me in my blue blazer, khakis, and white oxfords, Tracy in her Easter dress-and Mom, like all the proper matriarchs, with an Easter hat perched on her head that had a wingspan of at least 18 inches. No sooner had the crispy-fried beignets arrived than our holiday best was coated in a dusting of white powder, as it was our tradition to see who could blow the snowy confectioners’ sugar off of the mountain of beignets and onto the other the quickest. After we’d made a complete mess of ourselves, we’d get down to business and devour our crispy-fried beignets, still hot from the fryer and so amazingly tender.
Make Ahead: The beignet dough can be made up to 8 hours in advance of frying. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. After cutting the dough, place the beignets on the paper and place another greased sheet of parchment paper, sprayed-side down, on top. Wrap the entire baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The beignets can be fried straight from the refrigerator.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Taste and Texturechewy, sweet
Type of Dishdessert
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2½ tablespoons sugar
- 3½ cups bread flour plus extra for flouring work surface
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Peanut oil for frying
- Confectioners’ sugar for serving, as much as you think you’ll need-then double that!
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles form on the surface. Remove from the heat, add the buttermilk, 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 1½-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.
2009 David Guas