Beignets are a distinctive part of the New Orleans breakfast, although they’re enjoyed even more as a late-night snack. Our beignet is a square of straightforward dough fried until it puffs up and becomes golden brown. It’s covered with powdered sugar, placed on a plate with two more if its kind, and sent to the table or counter, where the person who ordered it is already sipping café au lait.
The best beignets have two qualities that rarely come together. First, they’re doughy enough that there’s more than just air inside. Second, they’re not so heavy that they sink to the bottom of the fryer.
The beignets in the French Market are made with a yeast dough, which is fine for a large operation but unnecessarily involved for home use. I prefer something similar to a biscuit dough.
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 3 Tbs. Crisco
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1. Combine the flour and Crisco in a bowl with a wire whisk until it resembled coarse cornmeal, with perhaps a few lumps here and there.
2. Warm 3/4 cup of water in the microwave oven until barely warm to touch. Dissolve the sugar in it.
3. Whisk the flour into the water to combine completely, using a kitchen fork to blend. Work the dough as little as possible.
4. Turn the dough out on a clean counter and dust with a little flour. Roll it out to a uniform thickness of about a quarter-inch. Cut into rectangles about two inches by four inches. Cover them with a moist, clean towel and let them rise for a few minutes.
5. Pour an inch of oil into a skillet and heat to 325 degrees. When the beignet dough squares have softened and puffed up a little, drop four to six at a time into the hot oil and fry until light brown. Turn once and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels. It’s all right to fry the misshapen dough pieces from the edge of the dough sheet.
6. Dust with powdered sugar and serve hot.
Makes 12-15 beignets.