Get in the Mardi Gras spirit with a classic New Orleans recipe. You’ll be surprised how easy, delicious, and inexpensive it is to make your own beignets from scratch. Seriously, if I can do it, anyone can.
Read: techy web editor who is notorious for not reading directions and substituting whatever’s on hand for missing ingredients. Knowing my vices I enlisted Southern Living Test Kitchen Professional Pam Lolley for direction and advice with her tried and true Beignet recipe.
I did manage to pull off the entire recipe with only 3 mistakes, which is not that bad for only 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Make the Yeast Mixture
Combine yeast, 1⁄2 cup warm water, and 1 tsp. granulated sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add milk, eggs, salt, and remaining granulated sugar.
My Mistake: I tried to use the mixer to combine the yeast, water, and sugar in the bowl. It doesn’t even touch it…just use a spoon.
Step 2: Form the Beignet Dough
Microwave remaining 1 cup water until hot (about 115°); stir in shortening until melted. Add to yeast mixture. Beat at low speed, gradually adding 4 cups flour, until smooth. Gradually add remaining 2 1⁄2 to 3 cups flour, beating until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl; turn to grease top. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.
My Mistake: I had a really hard time getting the shortening to melt into the water. Pam said I could nuke it for a little longer, just a little longer – not 45 seconds (whoops). When I took the shortening out the temp was well above 160°! Turns out if the temp of the water is above 115° it will boil (AND KILL) the yeast.
My Mistake: I wasn’t sure what to use to grease the bowl. As I was reaching for the cooking spray, Test Kitchen Professional Vanessa McNeil intervened. She showed me how easy it is to grease the bowl with vegetable oil (olive oil, canola, or any other non-flavored oil will work). Pour about 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil into the bowl and then pull the dough out of the mixing bowl by loosening around the sides. Once it’s in the greased bowl you can easily flip it over so that all sides are “oiled”. Then cover the bowl with a loose layer of plastic wrap refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Pam said the dough would keep for up to 1 week if you want to make it ahead or have leftovers.
Step 3: Roll and Cut the Dough
Turn dough out onto a floured surface; roll to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1⁄2-inch squares.
My Mistake: Make your cuts a little wider than mine…my beignets ended up on the small side. Also, don’t do this at the end of a very busy work day or after a glass of wine.
Step 4: Fry Until Golden Brown
Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3 inches into a Dutch oven; heat to 360°. Fry dough, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack. Dust immediately with powdered sugar.
My Mistake: I overcooked my dough a little, be sure to keep an eye on the color of your dough so you know when they are done. They are still delicious when they are overcooked though. Don’t be stingy with the powdered sugar – cover the beignets thoroughly.
Once you’ve mastered this beignet recipe (they are much easier the 2nd time), try your hand at more Classic New Orleans and Mardi Gras Recipes from Southern Living.