Saturday, May 20, 2006

Saturday Morning Beignets

The children have been begging for beignets. They sing a song we made up after the hurricane to try to get me to make the fried bread.
Cafe Du Monde, Cafe Du Monde. Even though you washed away, we still think of you at home.

Cafe Du Monde, Cafe Du Monde. Even though you washed away, we still need beignets. Let's fry some at home.

I know the song is stupid and that Cafe Du Monde didn't actually get blown away (they did close for remodeling to take advantage of the lull in their business and missing employees), but what can you expect from children who need a sugar fix. I made beignets the Saturday after Katrina to celebrate New Orleans and because my oven is electric and my stove top is gas. I didn't have electricity, so we fried breakfast. The children have been singing the song ever since.

I gave in this morning!! I am writing this as the dough rises for the first time. Here is a recipe that tastes like Cafe Du Monde beignets. They have a packaged beignet mix for sale, but fresh is best. This recipe is from A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South by John T. Edge.

French Market Beignets

1 cup Milk -- scalded
2 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Sugar, Brown
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Yeast, Active Dry
3 cup Flour, White, Unbleached
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Salt
1 ea Egg
Oil -- for deep frying
Sugar, Powdered -- liberal amounts for sprinkling


Heat the milk in a saucepan to the scalding stage. Do not let it scorch. Stir often. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl and add the brown and granulated sugar. Pour in scalded milk and stir until butter is melted and mixture is lukewarm. Add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Sift together the flour, nutmeg, and salt. Gradually add about half the flour mixture to the milk to form a batter. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Stir in the remaining flour. Cover and let rise for about an hour.

Knead gently. Roll out on a floured board to 1/4" thickness. Cut into diamond shapes. Cover. Let rise while you heat the oil to 385. Fry, turning only once. Drain and dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve warm.
Use liberal amounts of confectioners' sugar to make it authentic. We were in New Orleans a while back. My husband was working and the children and I were playing (exploring the French Quarter, eating beignets and mufflalettas, and trying to find the best praline). We bought some beignets to take when we met him. The children kept nibbling and I wasn't worried because the sack still felt heavy. When we got to the convention center to deliver the beignets, there was nothing but powdered sugar. In the bag was, at least, a quarter of a pound of sugar. I thought I was carrying beignets and all I was carrying was the topping. Needless to say my husband was disappointed.


Hornblower said...

Oh that sounds tasty. I've HEARD of beignets but never had one. I'm tempted to make them but I'm such a chicken about frying (groan!). Would they work in one of those electric deep fryers? How does one do it stove top? How deep does your pan & oil have to be?

wisteria said...

They will work in an electric deep fryer. I use the stove top because it is easier for me not to have so many small appliances. The oil only has to be about 1 1/2" deep. The beignets puff when they hit the hot oil and make air pockets. Once they puff they still need to be able to float. I use as little oil as I can because I am a food snob and don't like to reuse oil for cooking, but I still don't want to waste. I cook in a medium sized sauce pan and work in small batches. Working in batches allows for powdered sugar in layers -- delicious!

Hornblower said...

Thanks! We will try it this summer. During our 2 weeks on/1 week off homeschooling schedule, I have cooking, sewing, gardening etc. planned for the week off so I'm gathering up recipes.

homeschoolin' in minnesota said...

Thank you! Thank you! It's been so long since my husband and I have been to N'awlins, my daughter has yet to meet a beignet! I can't wait to try this recipe, it sounds like it takes some skill. Your new kitties are adorable!

Natalie said...

Oh wow. My parents met at Cafe Du Monde...and I'm on a diet...


wisteria said...

Diet? What Diet? I've been on a diet since I stopped nursing and was five years ago. But, there are times when you need to splurge.

I want the story. How does a person actually meet someone at Cafe Du Monde? The place is a mad house most of the time.

mull-berry said...

Are these similar to "funnel cakes" at fairs/carnivals? The batter is poured into the hot grease via funnel and it puffs into a lacy looking bread topped with powdered sugar.

wisteria said...

Beignets are diamond shaped and solid and a bit more substantial than funnel cakes. They are also a nutmeg flavored yeast bread. I don't believe funnel cakes have yeast, though I have never seen a recipe.