I’ve been promising my little one that I would teach him to make beignets for quite a while now. But now that he is currently obsessed with “The Princess and the Frog,” a Disney movie set in New Orleans with a Mardi Gras plot theme and beignets figuring centrally in the story, he’s become more persistent. Today being Tuesday AND Mardi Gras (my day off coinciding with a holiday for once!) we decided it was the perfect day for Beignet making. It’s Beignet Day, if you will.
My mom taught me how to make beignets- most every Saturday morning growing up we would make them for the family. It always delighted me how the little fritters would flip themselves over when they were done on one side (if the fat was deep enough in the skillet), and making, and eating beignets was such a special treat that signified long, lazy pajama mornings. Making them today, and sharing it with my son, was a special treat, too. Here’s my mom’s recipe, and its wonderful. (we’re from Georgia, so we make no claims to be making authentic, NOLA-style beignets- my understanding is that traditionally, beignets are yeasted, whereas Sally’s is leavened with baking powder. Well, my mom’s recipe is awesome so I don’t want to hear about it.)
Sally Rhoden’s Beignets (or French Doughnuts, as her recipe is titled)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 cup warm milk
Fill a deep skillet with vegetable oil and set on medium high heat. (you’ll know the oil is hot enough to fry when a drop of water dropped into the skillet pops)
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Add all other ingredients, beat with a wooden spoon until combined but still a little lumpy, and drop by spoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from skillet, drain, and sprinkle (actually, douse) with powdered sugar. If you are out of powdered sugar like I am today, cinnamon sugar works just fine.
My first batch, the oil wasn’t hot enough, so the dough sort of broke up in the skillet and didn’t fluff up (but was still delicious in that funnel-cake kind of way). The second batch was PERFECT, making fluffy little pillows of soft, moist, light crumb. Observe:
The perfect specimen, along with one that was shaped like a duck:
The next generation of Beignet makers, eaters, and appreciators:
Joyeux Mardi Gras!