Recipe from Paris to Provence by Ethel Brennan, Sara Remington (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013)
Beignets always reminded me of summer carnivals at home in the United States. They had that distinct funnel cake smell and were essentially the same thing—deep-fried dough covered in a layer of powdered sugar sometimes so thick you couldn’t see the light brown color of the beignets. As kids, we used to blow the powdered sugar on each other; the beautiful snowy mound was there to be played with. As I bit down into each puff, I could hear the sound of the carnival—laughter and screams from the ferris wheel, dance music played loudly through bad, crackling speakers, and balloons being popped at the dart game. Every summer we got our carnival fix in Paris at the Jardin des Tuileries, always starting with la Grande Roue (the big ferris wheel) and continuing on to the terrifying haunted house we had to walk through. We’d finish the carnival fun by sitting on the stone steps of the entrance to the park, a box of beignets in our lap, laughing until our stomachs hurt. We talked about what happened earlier that day, which usually involved me burrowing my face in my sister’s shoulder while we walked through the haunted house, so terrified I could barely move, convinced we would never get out of there alive to enjoy our box of delicious beignets. —Sara
- 1 cup warm whole milk (about 110°F)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼-ounce package dry yeast
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange flower water
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 to 6 cups canola oil
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
Pour the warm milk into a large bowl. Mix in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand until the yeast begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
Whisk the egg, butter, salt, vanilla, the remaining sugar, and the orange flower water into the milk. Add 2 cups of flour and work into the wet ingredients using a wooden spoon. Add another cup of flour and gather the dough into a ball. It will be sticky. Knead the dough and add the remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time, until it forms a smooth yet soft ball; stop adding flour at this point. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1½ hours.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and roll out to a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 pieces, then cut it crosswise into 6 pieces, creating 24 small beignets. Cover the dough with a clean, dry dish towel and let rise for 1 hour.
In a large deep skillet over high heat, warm the oil until it reaches 350°F. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. Fry the beignets in small batches of 2 to 3 in the hot oil, turning them every 30 seconds or so with tongs, until they are puffed and golden brown all over. They cook quickly and will start to burn if left too long in the oil. Remove the beignets from the oil and drain on paper towels. Put the powdered sugar into a fine-mesh strainer and dust the warm beignets generously with the powdered sugar. Serve immediately.
Makes 24 beignets, Serves 8