- 1¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast (⅛ ounce)
- ½ cup of warm water (around 110° F)
- ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar (2.45 ounces)
- ½ cup of evaporated milk*
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- ½ teaspoon of kosher salt (less if table salt)
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour (about 18 ounces)
- 2 to 4 quarts of neutral oil (enough to fill your large pot halfway)
- Confectioner's (powdered) sugar, for dusting
- Proof the yeast and melt the butter. In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, a teaspoon of granulated sugar, and warm water. Let stand for five minutes, until a layer of froth forms on top. If it doesn't foam, the yeast is bad so start over with new yeast. Melt the butter, and set it aside to cool.
- Beat the egg and sugar, then add the milk. In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk or beat the egg and sugar until combined. Add the evaporated milk, melted butter, and yeast mixture, and whisk or beat on low speed until smooth.
- Mix the dough. Add the flour a little at a time on low speed or stir it in with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. The dough will be loose but cohesive. If the dough is really sticky, add a spoonful of flour at a time until you can handle it.
- Proof. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape it gently into a ball. Then place it in an oiled bowl and cover it well (I like to wrap the bowl in plastic wrap). Let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size. Or proof it in the refrigerator overnight for the most flavorful and tender beignets.
- Heat the frying oil. Heat three to four inches of oil to 370° F in a large pot over medium-high heat. Use a candy or meat thermometer to measure the temperature. Don't fill the pot more than halfway with oil, or it will overflow when you add the beignets. If you don't have a thermometer, start with medium-high heat and adjust it once you start frying. It should be hot enough that the beignets float nearly immediately, and are done in a couple of minutes.
- Roll and cut the beignets. Press the air out of the risen dough and turn it out gently onto a floured surface. Roll it into a loose 14-inch square that's about an eighth-inch thick. Then with a floured knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into squares that are 2¼ to 2½-inches in size. Keep the cut beignets on a floured surface and cover them with plastic wrap or a towel until you fry.
- Fry to a light golden. Fry the beignets in small batches until just cooked through and lightly golden on both sides, flipping once the first side is golden. I recommend frying a single beignet first so you can adjust the temperature of your oil as necessary. Beignets don't need more than a minute or two in the oil. Don't overcrowd the pot or the oil will have difficulty maintaining temperature.
- Drain and coat in powdered sugar. Drain the fried beignets on a rack or paper towels. Then sift a heavy coating of powdered sugar over the doughnuts. Or for a true French Quarter beignet experience, place the doughnuts in paper bags with a cup of powdered sugar. Seal and shake the bag to coat the doughnuts. Serve warm.
Whole, reduced fat, or even buttermilk can substitute for evaporated milk.
Storage and Reheating
Store beignets in an airtight container for a day or two. Or seal the leftovers tightly and freeze, which is actually the better choice. Reheat beignets by dunking them back in hot oil for thirty seconds, in the oven at 350° F until hot, or in the microwave. If you nuke them, don't walk away. More than just a few seconds in the microwave and your light, pillowy beignets can go from tender to tough.
- Proof the dough overnight. The longer proofing results in a more tender, more flavorful beignet. It also breaks up the bread-baking process and makes for an easier morning. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Roll the dough fairly thin. French Quarter beignets from Café du Monde and the like are incredibly light and hollow. To achieve this texture, the dough needs to be rolled thin.
On the Nutrition
The amounts below assume each beignet absorbs about two ounces of oil during frying. But this is not a hard and fast amount. The carbohydrates don't account for the powdered sugar, since that varies from cook to cook.
- Prep Time: 2 Hours, 15 minutes (2 Hours Inactive)
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Frying
- Cuisine: Southern
- Diet: Vegetarian
- Serving Size: 1 Beignet (without powdered sugar)
- Calories: 224
- Sugar: 2.3 g
- Sodium: 32.2 mg
- Fat: 16 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 17.5 g
- Fiber: 0.6 g
- Protein: 2.6 g
- Cholesterol: 9.5 mg
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