Happy Mardi Gras! Homemade Beignets
Tomorrow, March 4th is Mardi Gras. Also known as Fat Tuesday, it is the day of feasting and partying before the fasting season of Lent. So enjoy the day with some homemade beignets!
What is a beignet? Simply, it is a type of sweet fritter, deep fried and served doused with powdered sugar. They are traditional squared shaped and have no holes in the middle (don’t call it a donut…pshaw!) The Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans, LA is famous for their fresh beignets.
For those of us who do not live in New Orleans and can not get to the Cafe Du Monde to order fresh beignets, you are in luck! They are easy to make at home. Why make them from scratch when Cafe Du Monde sells a perfectly good beignet mix? Why not? I love a challenge. I’ve used the Cafe Du Monde beignet mix for years and I like it. But this year I wanted to raise the bar.
Some things I found helpful when making the beignets:
Proof the yeast. I always proof yeast. Years of baking bread and yeast-risen pastries have taught me never to skip this step. Yeast is alive and does loose its vitality when it is old . Your packet of yeast might say it has not expired, but I do not take chances. It really does stink to go through this whole process and your dough to fails to rise.
When you proof the yeast, you simply add the warm water, yeast and sugar ingredients to the bowl first. Stir and let it sit for ten minutes. The yeast will bubble and foam. It will look like this:
You can use all purpose or bread flour. I researched many recipes that say you can use either or. Bread flour has more protein content than all-purpose, which helps with gluten development. It is also more expensive. Unless you happen to have some at home, I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it. You can use all purpose.
You can use a stand mixer w/dough hook or a bread machine. Next time I will throw the ingredients in my bread machine and let it mix. The stand mixer wasn’t bad. But I did have to baby sit it. You know the dough is ready when it “clings” to the hook:
Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough. If you’ve got one handy,a pizza cutter works great to cut the dough into squares!
Test the oil first with a small piece of dough. This is an easy way to test if the oil is right temperature; sacrifice a small piece of dough first. I never use a thermometer when frying. I test the oil with small pieces of what ever I am frying first.
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Enjoy this delicious beignet recipe for Mardi Gras or any day when the craving hits!