I’m melting! I’m melting!!
Who says that global warming isn’t happening? I’d like those silly people to come on over and spend a few nights at our house this summer. They might want to bring their own electric fans. Because we don’t have AC.
Everyone else in the neighbourhood does though. And the roar from all the units running full tilt has been driving me mad. And speaking of madness….
It is almost madness to volunteer to be the hostess of the month for bread baking in August. August is usually hot, followed my hot and muggy, followed by hotter in most places. Who wants to turn on the oven?
With that in mind I went for a bread that didn’t need an oven. […] [B]eignets [are fried] in oil…for about 2 minutes, so not much time over a hot stove.
– Pat, message to BBBabes
Exactly! Who does want to turn on the oven? But. By the same token, who wants to stand over hot oil in the kitchen? Even if it is for only 2 minutes?!
I know; after complaining bitterly about the cold last winter and spring, I promised I wouldn’t say even the smallest negative thing about it being too hot.
Ooops. Too late….
Still, I knew that T would adore beignets. Even when it is as hot as Hades.
Named for the French word for fritter, these pillowy squares of fried, yeasted dough dusted with powdered sugar were brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. They’re now a staple New Orleans dessert, most famously served at the iconic Café du Monde.
-Iconic Eats: Louisiana, SAVEUR Magazine No.168, October 2014
These beignets were the scene at my table one early morning last week at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans’ French Quarter; but what was happening at the next table was even better. Two businessmen from out of town sat down. They didn’t seem to know each other well, and I’m guessing neither had ever been before to this cafe where the beignets famously come heaped with powdered sugar. At one point I glanced over: one man’s mustache is completely white with sugar and the other has perfect dots of the stuff high up on each cheek. They talked on, unfazed, but for all of us watching it was hard not to crack a smile.
– Marne Setton, Travels, SAVEUR Magazine
Here’s how braving the heat and making beignets went:
BBB Beignet diary:
30 June 2016, 23:29 I’ve heard of beignets…. But I had no idea they took virtually no time to cook. What an excellent choice, Pat! T will be in heaven; he loves this kind of pastry!
2 August 2016, 17:12 Well, we’re certainly frying here right now! It’s disgracefully hot here again for the second week in a row. And us with no AC!
I’m hoping that by next week this infernal humidity will have gone. Otherwise, I’m not sure that I can sell deep-frying. Even though T is out of his mind with joy at the idea of having beignets.
7 August 09:46
Well, Elizabeth, you could just fry two…that wouldn’t take very long, then carefully take the hot oil outside so it doesn’t make the house any hotter. Best I can think of. At least you don’t have to heat up the oven! […]
– Pat, message to BBBabes
True enough about the oven. But heating up and standing in front of hot oil (even if it is for just a few minutes) is almost as daunting. This summer has been inordinately hot here – pretty much poisonously hot since early July.
The heat finally broke yesterday and there’s a beautiful breeze blowing lovely cool air onto the front porch. It’s still warm though. But not too warm. It’s exactly how summer should be!
I’m sorry that I didn’t make the beignet dough last night so we could deep fry it this morning while it’s still cool in the kitchen. Because of course, we’re not out of the woods. Apparently, it’s going to get evilly hot again by the end of the week. I really should grab at this brief opportunity, shouldn’t I?
I know the recipe says that it only takes a couple of hours to rise but I still think I should mix the dough tonight and let it rise in the fridge overnight. Then we can grab this small window of bliss and have beignets tomorrow morning.
How handy that King Arthur has outlined exactly what to do to make an overnight refrigerator version! Yay! It looks like we might be having our beignets and eating them too after all.
We were looking at our various bread books to see what others did to make beignets. Surprisingly, not many of our books even mentioned them! But there is quite a large section in “Joy of Cooking” on how to make unyeasted beignets, with a note on using the recipe for brioche dough to make yeasted beignets. As in Martha Stewart’s and Emeril Lagasse’s recipes, the glaze for the Joy beignets is icing sugar. As Martha Stewart does, Joy also offers the optional addition of cinnamon.
“Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson also includes a beignet recipe. I’m really intrigued by Robertson’s lemon glaze with toasted maple pecans. And we just happen to have some pecans lurking in the freezer….
Our beignets – brioche dough fried quickly, bathed in lemon glaze, and then tossed with maple-glazed pecans […] are convenient to make if you are already preparing brioche dough. Only 200 grams of the dough need to be set aside for making the beignets. […] When the beignets are cool enough to handle, dip them in the lemon glaze and then in the chopped pecans, coating them evenly. the pecans should stick to the beignet, and the glaze will harden slightly as the beignets continue to cool. […]
To make pecans, preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment. Stir [maple/corn] syrups, sugar and salt together in a bowl and add pecans to toss and coat. Spread pecans in even layer on the parchment paper. Bake until glaze starts to bubble then stir nuts every few minutes to disperse the glaze. Nuts are done when glaze thickened and bubbles have slowed, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan. Cooled nuts should be crisp. Finely chop nuts.
To make lemon glaze, stir together lemon zest & juice and sugars in a bowl.
– Chad Robertson, Baguettes and Enriched Breads, Tartine Bread, p.152-154
9 August 2016, 06:55 Oh oh.
Be prepared for yet another wave of hot and humid weather as Environment Canada issued a heat warning for Toronto and parts of the GTA on Monday. “This may be the longest and most significant heat wave of the summer so far,” Environment Canada said in a news release just after 3:20 p.m. […] And the hot weather won’t let up on Wednesday or Thursday either. […] Toward the end of the week and into the weekend, Toronto will have a 30 to 40 per cent chance of rain and thunderstorms. This could offer a little relief from the heat and humidity, Environment Canada said.
– Courtney Greenberg, ‘Most significant heat wave of the summer’ expected in Toronto: Environment Canada, CTV Toronto, 8 August 2016
It’s already 20C outside and I suspect that it may not have gone much lower than 18C last night. Environment Canada says that it’s going up to 31C today and that there is a “heat warning in effect” with an added notice that it’s only going down to 23C tonight and then will be 34C tomorrow. Sigh….
I made half the dough last night before dinner. I accidentally-on-purpose forgot to put in the nutmeg and decided to omit the bananas. Because a full recipe calls for one egg, I reduced the amount of water. Even so, the dough was still pretty loose but felt quite lovely. We left it in its covered bowl to meld on the counter until after dinner where it started to nicely rise. Then, into the fridge it went. I just took it out now to warm it up so we can have beignets for breakfast.
I’m kicking myself because I SHOULD have done this yesterday when it was quite lovely and cool all night and only went up to 28C…. C’est la vie.
But let’s play the Glad Game: I’m GLAD I waited until it’s hot and steamy. Now we can really experience beignets as they are made in Louisiana, or rather, as they were before AC was invented…. (We don’t have AC in our house.)
As we were making salad last night, I mentioned that I was planning to use Chad Robertson’s method for making the beignets. Here’s how the conversation went:
me: After he deep-fries them, Robertson puts
he: [interrupting] powdered sugar on them
me: No! He dips them in lemon zest and juice and then rolls them in candied crushed pecans. Look, here’s a picture. Don’t they look great?
he: [frowning] Well. The lemon sounds okay. But I want mine with just powdered sugar.
me: The mundane way that everyone else does…
he: Yes. But you can have yours with the pecan thing….
me: No, no. Let’s both be traditional. Powdered sugar it will be.
I was going to sneak down this morning to make the pecans and lemon glaze but the already warm temperature in the kitchen combined with the news from Environment Canada that we’re right back into the soup have put me into a decline.
08:19 A few minutes ago, I took the dough out of the bowl and rolled out half the dough to make 8 beignets, each about two inch squares. After folding the rest of the dough a couple of times with flour, I put it back into the bowl and into the fridge. We’ll make hamburger buns with it tonight on the barbecue. (We’re NOT turning the oven on today!)
Ha! I just noticed that I was supposed to oil the rising bowl. Ooops….
We talked about whether to put cook them directly out of the fridge or to let the dough come up to room temperature and then let them rise for half an hour after shaping them. We decided to warm the dough up a little and let them rise in the oven with only the light turned on after shaping them.
After they were cooked and had cooled a little, as I was carefully sprinkling on the sugar, T objected. He said, “More! More!” And I had to admit that if I were going to be making them correctly, he’s right.
When the beignets are cool, sprinkle them heavily with confectioners’ sugar. For a real New Orleans experience, serve with strong coffee. […] I cross-referenced ten other examples of beignets, and they all specify frying directly from the fridge, so I don’t believe this is incorrect. They really pop up if the oil is hot enough, and much of the sweetness comes from the powdered sugar on the top. If you’d like to call the Hotline, we can offer other suggestions to make the perfect fried dough.
– Laurie, King Arthur Flour, Classic Beignets
I thought the beignets tasted pretty darn good. And the texture!! Oh my! It is swoonworthy.
T, on the other hand, was in heaven. He said, “I want these for my birthday breakfast. And Christmas breakfast. And Boxing Day breakfast. And New Year’s Day breakfast. And Easter breakfast. And…”
We WERE going to use the other half of the dough to make hamburger buns for tonight’s dinner but T decreed that we would have beignets for breakfast tomorrow.
For me, they are on the sweet side. All that powdered sugar! And I didn’t even sprinkle on nearly as much as they did on the beignets in the SAVEUR article!
Again, I suggested the idea of using Chad Robertson’s lemon glaze with crushed pecans but T nixed it because a.) it’s too foofy and b.) it would be just as sweet, you know.
Of course, he’s right. So tomorrow morning, for a few of the beignets, we’re going to try sandwiching some Havarti cheese in the middle (instead of banana slices). And then I won’t sprinkle them with any sugar. Hmmm, what SHOULD I sprinkle them with?
In the meantime, rather than having hamburgers, I will make pizza dough to cook pizza on the barbecue for tonight’s dinner. Because we’re NOT turning the oven on today!
10 August 2016, 14:58 I’m melting!! I’m melting!!!
But. At least I’ll go happy. Early this morning, when it was already 25C, I took the rest of the dough out of the fridge. And we made about 10 more beignets. But this time, for four of them, I inserted a little slice of Havarti and once they were cooked and had cooled a little, sprinkled grated Romano cheese on them.
10 August 2016, 16:14 I’m melting!! I’m melting!!! It’s sunny and 35C now. Environment Canada has issued a Heat Warning for Toronto To add insult to injury they have also published the following on their website:
Wednesday 10 August 2016 Special air quality statement in effect for: City of Toronto
Possible high levels of air pollution are expected today. A Special Air Quality Statement is in place due to the possibility of deteriorating air quality. Hot and sunny conditions are expected to cause increasing ground-level ozone concentrations this afternoon. Moderate risk AQHI values are expected throughout the day with the potential of short-term high risk AQHI values in the afternoon.
– Environment Canada
But. At least as I’m coughing and choking, I’ll be happy….
Early this morning, when it was already 25C, I took the rest of the dough out of the fridge. And we made about 10 more beignets. But this time, for four of them, I inserted a little slice of Havarti in each one and once they were cooked and had cooled a little, sprinkled grated Romano cheese on them.
If we survive this heat wave, we’re going to make more beignets this weekend for our friends who live next door. I think they neeeeeeed to try them!
14 August 2016 18:12 Thank goodness for yesterday’s rain! The night temperature finally dropped below 20C.
To celebrate, I made more beignet dough last night and put it in the fridge overnight. (Let’s just pretend that there weren’t ghastly shrieks and cries when the middle shelf of the fridge suddenly and inexplicably fell into the vegetable drawer. Thankfully, there was no liquid on the middle shelf and the eggs were protected by their carton.)
This morning, around 10, I continued to ignore the fallen refrigerator shelf and got the dough out of the fridge to bring up to room temperature. I also got out the icing sugar, grated parmesan, dark chocolate, various baskets, paper serviettes, wire racks, etc. in preparation for our Sunday beignet extravaganza.
While I rolled the dough out, my hero started fixing the broken shelf. (More thanks are appropriate here – not just for T but for the fact that we DO have a working cooler and ice packs so that the contents of the second shelf would stay cool. The heat wave may have broken but it’s still well above 20C in the kitchen.)
This time, we thought we’d try cooking the beignets when the dough was still a bit cool – as per the KAF recipe. Also, we decided to go nuts with fillings. Not only did we make more Havarti cheese beignets but we also made some with dark chocolate as fillings.
The dark chocolate wasn’t a complete success. The chocolate started oozing out when the beignets were cooking. It completely ruined the oil. Happily, chocolate in the hot oil didn’t ruin the flavour of the beignets….
The other thing that happened was that the resulting beignets were completely hollow! They were delicious. Just hollow. From now on, before cooking the beignets, we’ll always bring the dough back up to room temperature AND really let it rise after rolling out the dough.
Of course, T loved the sweet beignets just as much. Maybe even more. But now that I’ve tried the less sweet versions, I can really understand why people line up for freshly made doughnuts!
On Sunday morning, we took some beignets over to our neighbours and then, armed with large cups of coffee, went out onto the front porch to sit in bliss, watching our neighbour across the street wielding long poled branch clippers to trim an overgrown smoke bush. We were so impressed with his labour that we took him a reward of four beignets.
Thank you, Pat! That really was fun!
Here is the BBB August 2016 Beignets recipe.
BBB Overnight Beignets
based on recipes by Martha Stewart and King Arthur Flour
for about 16 beignets
- 220gm (1+3/4 c) flour ¹
» 10gm flax seed, finely ground
» 50gm 100% whole wheat flour
» 160gm unbleached all-purpose flour
- 12gm (1 Tbsp) granulated sugar ²
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 4gm Kosher salt (2/3 tsp table salt) ³
- 60gm (1/4 c) water at about 96F 4
- 3gm (1/2 tsp) active dry yeast 5
- 60gm (1/4 c) milk, room temperature (BBB recipe calls for whole milk, but we used 2%)
- 1 large egg (50gm)
- 14gm (1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, soft
fillings and toppings 6
- no filling; icing sugar for coating
- dark chocolate square for filling; icing sugar and finely grated spiced chocolate for coating
- Havarti cheese (thinly sliced square) for filling; finely grated Romano cheese for coating
- sunflower oil, as needed
- candy thermometer
- medium sized stainless steel pot
- dough: In the early evening before you plan to make beignets, stir together flours, ground flaxseed and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Then, put salt in a little pile on the top of the flours.
- Put water at 96F (please do not use water from the hot water tap!) and milk into a small bowl and whisk in yeast until it has dissolved. Whisk egg into yeasted mixture and avoiding the salt as best you can, pour into the bowl with the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps of flour.
- kneading in the bowl: Put the butter in and using your hands, squoosh the dough in the bowl. Turn and fold the dough in the bowl as many times until it’s relatively smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light turned on for about an hour, or leave at “room temperature”. Then move the bowl into the fridge to rest overnight. Pretend you didn’t even notice that you were supposed to oil the rising bowl.
- shaping: The next morning, about 2 hours before you will be making the beignets, take the dough out of the fridge to bring it back to room temperature. For us, the best way to do this is to put it back into the oven with only the light turned on. Be pleased to see that the dough has pretty much doubled in the fridge.
- When the dough is warm (if you don’t wait, the resulting beignets may be hollow), turn the dough out onto a well floured board. Turn it over to flour both sides and begin to flatten it out with the palms of your hand. Then, using a rolling pin, roll it out into a rectangle. Use a pizza wheel or bench scraper to cut the dough into 2-inch(ish) squares. Make sure that the squares are resting on flour. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by plastic grocery bag and allow to rise in the oven with only the light turned on for about half an hour.
- filling and cooking: For each of the beignets that are going to be filled, gently pull the square to form a rectangle and place a square of dark chocolate or cheese in the center. Fold the dough over the square and seal well with your thumbs. It’s essential that there are no holes in the dough!
- Pour about an inch or two of oil into a medium pot and heat it until it registers 350F on a candy thermometer. Starting with the plain beignets, cook them gradually by adding 3 or 4 squares to the hot oil. Leave the bottoms in the hot oil until they are deep gold then using a fork or tongs, turn the beignets over. Notice that when the beignets first go into the oil, the oil bubbles furiously then suddenly stops, making you wonder if someone turned the heat off. If you have a deep fryer and are using more oil, you can follow the BBB instructions by “rolling them around constantly with a slotted spoon or spider, until golden brown all over, 1 to 2 minutes”. Transfer cooked beignets to a wire rack placed over a cookie sheet to drain. Once the plain beignets are done, cook the cheese beignets, followed by the chocolate beignets (the chocolate might want to leak out and will ruin the oil for other beignets).
- topping: Allow to cool before liberally sprinkling with icing sugar for the plain beignets, sugar/chocolate for the chocolate beignets, and finely grated Romano cheese for the cheese beignets.
Serve all of the beignets immediately with bowls of cafe au lait. Day-old beignets are quite disappointing and simply taste like commercially made Bflat doughnuts.
1.) Flour The BBB recipe calls “3 1/2 cups [438gm] all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and baking sheet”. We made just half the recipe and substituted some of the all-purpose flour with ground flax seed and whole wheat flour.
2.) Sugar The full BBB recipe calls for “1/4 cup [50gm] granulated sugar”. That felt like too much so after halving it, I cut it in half again to use just 12gm (1 Tbsp).
3.) Salt The BBB recipe calls for “3/4 teaspoon [4.5gm] salt”. That seemed to be on the low side. So I raised it in my head to 1 tsp (6gm). Then, after cutting it in half to 3gm, that didn’t seem high enough. So I used 4gm…. (For more information about why I always measure salt by weight, please see Salt is salt, right?.)
4.) Water The full BBB recipe calls for “3/4 cup [180ml/180gm] warm water (about 110 degrees)” and 1 egg. While it’s possible to divide an egg in half, it just felt like too much work. Instead, for half the recipe, I used a full egg and reduced the amount of water. You thought I wasn’t going to say anything about getting the water to 96F, didn’t you? As if…. Please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cold, it’s too cold; if it feels like a cross between cool, warm and nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.
5.) Yeast The BBB recipe calls for “1 (1/4-ounce) [7gm] envelope active dry yeast”. Our scale doesn’t register half grams so I chose to round down and use 3gm.
6.) Fillings and Toppings The BBB recipe calls for “1 -2 bananas (optional)” and “Confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon sugar, for coating”. As interesting as bananas and cinnamon sugar sounded, I couldn’t help changing those.
The first time around, we had a few beignets left over and reheated them to have with coffee the next day. How fascinating!! They were still pretty good but they tasted essentially like any old decently made doughnut, ie: exactly as I had expected they were going to taste originally.
So, a word of caution: unless you don’t mind eating run-of-the-mill, ordinary doughnuts, make sure to eat up ALL the freshly made beignets. They’re way better the day they’re made!
Pat (aka Elle) is our host for August 2016’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:
The dough is soft and supple and rose well into puffy beignets. […] Hope you enjoy making these and eating them, too. If you make a 3-inch by 3-inch beignet you probably only need to eat one, but it is really tempting to eat more while they are warm and fragrant.
Ha! I made 2-inch by 2-inch beignets and between the two of us, we ate eight in one sitting!!
We know you’ll want to make beignets too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make beignets in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 August 2016. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.
For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:
- BBB Kitchen of the month: Pat, Pat/Elle Feeding My Enthusiasms, Beignets: August 2016
- BBBuddy guidelines
- about the BBBabes
Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ August 2016 bread:
- Aparna, My Diverse Kitchen
- Cathy, Bread Experience: Sourdough Einkorn Beignets #BreadBakingBabes
- Heather, All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Ilva, Ilva Baretta Photography
- Jamie, Life’s a Feast
- Judy, Judy’s Gross Eats: Babes Head to New Orleans for Beignets
- Karen, Bake My Day
- Karen K, Karen’s Kitchen Stories: New Orleans Style Beignets
- Katie (BBBBB), Thyme for Cooking: Beignets, brought to you by the Bread Baking Babes
- Kelly, A Messy Kitchen: BBB makes Beignets – my first deep fried experience
- Lien, Notitie van Lien: BBB throw their bread in the deep (fryer)
- Pat (aka Elle), Feeding My Enthusiasms: The Babes Let the Good Times Roll (kitchen of the month)
- Tanna, My Kitchen in Half Cups
As Katie so fittingly said:
And that’s it for the Babes in August…. I think the heat is still having an effect.
Flour on the floor makes my sandals
slip and I tumble into your arms.
Too hot to bake this morning but
blueberries begged me to fold them
into moist muffins. Sticks of rhubarb
plotted a whole pie. The windows
are blown open and a thickfruit tang
sneaks through the wire screen
and into the home of the scowly lady
who lives next door. Yesterday, a man
in the city was rescued from his apartment
that was filled with a thousand rats.
Something about being angry because
his pet python refused to eat. He let the bloom
of fur rise, rise over the little gnarly blue rug,
over the coffee table, the kitchen countertops
and pip through each cabinet, snip
at the stumpy paper bags of sugar,
the cylinders of salt. Our kitchen is a riot
of pots, wooden spoons, melted butter.
So be it. Maybe all this baking will quiet
the angry voices next door, if only
for a brief whiff. I want our summers
to always be like this—a kitchen wrecked
with love, a table overflowing with baked goods
warming the already warm air. After all the pots
are stacked, the goodies cooled, and all the counters
wiped clean—let us never be rescued from this mess.
– Aimee Nezhukumatathil, from Lucky Fish (Tupelo 2011)
» Banana Cinnamon Buns are delicious! (Bookmarked Recipes #24)
» Pulla: Finnish Cardamom Bread (bookmarked recipe)
» Pão Doce – Sweet Portuguese Bread (BBB August 2010)
» Catching up: Chinese Flower Steam Buns (BBB September 2009)
» Brioche et un petit Gateau a la Creme (BBB March 2013)
» Brioche flower; or is it a star?? (BBB December 2014)