Friday, July 2, 2010

bringing home the bayou {beignets}

we just returned home from a road trip through the south

and boy do i have a lot of work to do
testing recipes 
in an attempt to duplicate
the wonderful things we ate
and writing thank you notes
to the wonderful friends new and old
who took us in
and filled our bellies

i was smitten, from my first bite
pillowy-billowy-sugary bliss
no matter how touristy, 
the beignet gold standard

introducing my husband to the decadent treat
during our recent stay in new orleans
delighted me

waking up this morning
to a breakfast of freshly made beignets
delighted him
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (about 100-105 degrees)
1/2 cup + 2 Tbs granulated sugar
1 1/2 Tbs active dry yeast (1 1/2 envelopes)
2 large eggs--slightly beaten, room temperature
1 cup evaporated milk, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter--melted
6-7 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
peanut or other frying oil

mix the water and sugar in a bowl, then sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside for about 5 to 10 minutes.  the yeast should begin to bubble.  if it does not, your yeast might be bad....allow it to sit for 5 more minutes. if it does not start "feeding", then discard and start again.
meanwhile, whisk together the evaporated milk, eggs, salt and melted butter.
after 10 minutes or so, add 3 cups of flour to the yeast mixture and beat with a wooden spoon until it is well incorporated.  add the evaporated milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat with a wooden spoon.  Add 3 more cups of the flour and until all flour is incorporated. you are not making bread, so you do not want to knead too much.  Turn the dough (it should be a bit sticky), onto a floured surface and gently  pat in enough flour that will allow you to handle the dough, but do not aggressively knead it.  place in an oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  place in warm place to double in size (alternately, you can place in the refrigerator overnight to rise).
when you are ready to fry up a batch of beignet, heat your oil to 370F.  roll your dough out to 1/2" thick, using a bit of flour if necessary to prevent sticking. cut dough with sharp knife or pizza cutter into squares (i like mine big).  let cut pieces sit about 5 minutes before frying in the hot oil (i do this so the yeast starts working again, so i get nice air pockets when i fry em up).  fry until golden, it will take just a few minutes.  do no overcrowd the pot.  let drain on kitchen paper and serve with copious amounts of powdered sugar.
and of course
a cup of cafe au lait.
and then
let out a howl
that would make
at cafe du monde


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