Beignets started as an amazing treat for the kids and has deteriorated in status to something they ask for on school mornings like it’s on par with preparing toast or cereal. I believe this has resulted in my making beignets several times this winter and their adoration of all things fried and dusted with sugar. But I want to keep them as a treat. And well they should be, as they require a lot of rising time.
Then we had a fantastic snowfall. Saturday morning was white and fluffy below; crisp and blue skied above. There was a bounty of snow everywhere! I wanted some strong coffee, some cool records to cook to and I wanted to make the kids beignets.
But what would happen if I didn’t let them rise for 24 hours in the fridge as my recipe said they should? Would they be good if they only rose for under two hours?
Yes, they would be pretty good.
I have been making them from this recipe on allrecipes.com, posted by ginampls and I am going to stick with it. Why fiddle with something that causes so much joy? I must say though that I use butter instead of shortening. I am a butter and olive oil gal.
Boil some water and mix it with purified water to be warm but not too hot to kill the yeast. Spoon your dried active yeast in and leave for 5 or 10 minutes. (If using instant yeast just add it into the flour and add the water in with the wet ingredients.) Add the sugar, salt, eggs, evaporated milk or 1/2 and 1/2 and whisk gently. Mix in 4 cups of flour (at this point use your trusty wooden spoon) and beat till smooth. Add the butter (or shortening) which should be very soft or even melted. Add the last of the flour and mix.
On this occasion I skipped the overnight rising time and once the batter was fairly combined, I dumped everything on my clean counter and got stuck in the sloppy mess with my hands. (Knead with a kitchen aid if you like). I kneaded it together gently till it was a smooth dough, covered with a tea towel and put it into my warm-ish oven to rise for about an hour. It was already 9am and by kid time, that’s late!
I have made this recipe properly (24 hours) and the beignets were brilliantly light and fluffy, but I must say, and as the pic doth show, rising an hour and a half in the oven seemed to make this batter pretty happy.
I divided the dough as this just makes so so so many. Divide the dough with a wooden spoon. Roll it out to 1/8 of an inch thick, then cut into squares or diamonds. I have no idea what an 1/8th of an inch is but this looked good to me.
I left the little diamond pastries under a tea towel to rise a teeny bit more and then heated up my oil in a deep pot. The recipe says heat the oil to 360F, 180C. I don’t have a thermometer so I tossed in a little spare bit of dough to see if it starts dancing. If there’s not much action and it takes ages to turn golden, the oil isn’t hot enough. Likewise, if the beignets turn a dark brown too quickly, the oil is too hot. Have your paper towels all set and get ready to do some assembly line frying.
The other half of the dough I put in a baggie which I then threw in the freezer for the next blizzard. But you can wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for the proper rising time of 24 hours and try them again the next morning. Meanwhile, this batch of beignets was polished off by my children and their friends in half an hour. I may have dipped a couple into my gorgeous hot coffee and enjoyed the treat myself. Tres Bien! Not a bad morning’s work.