Julie van Rosendaal is a very good friend of Start From Scratch and I luckily now work only a few blocks away from her house. We always thought that she was joking when she said she would pop in with some delicious just baked goods, but last week it actually happened. Holy. Cow. One of my co-workers walked in with a little movie theatre-like popcorn box filled to the brim with tiny little fresh out of the deep-fryer donuts. After tasting Julie’s heavenly creation, I knew I had to share it with you.
Cafe du Monde-style Sugared Beignets (courtesy dinnerwithjulie.com)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. (1 pkg.) active dry yeast
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. salt
canola oil, for frying
plenty of icing sugar
In a large bowl, stir together the water, a spoonful of the sugar and the yeast and let it sit for 10 minutes. If it’s not foamy, toss it and buy new yeast.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla. Add to the yeast mixture along with 3 cups of the flour, the remaining sugar, the butter and salt and stir to combine. Gradually add another 4 cups of flour, stirring (or letting your dough hook do the work) until you have a sticky dough. If it’s not too sticky to knead, knead it on a floured surface or with the dough hook; if it’s still pretty sticky, add another 1/2 cup flour. Knead until it’s smooth and elastic, yet still tacky.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for 1 1/2-2 hours.
When you’re ready to cook, heat a couple inches of oil in a deep-fryer or heavy saucepan until hot, but not smoking (about 350F).
Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thick and cut into 1-2 inch squares with a knife. Carefully drop a few at a time into the hot oil, without crowding it (cooking too many at a time will bring the temperature of the oil down) and cook until golden on both sides, carefully flipping with tongs as necessary. Transfer to paper towels to drain and cool, then douse in powdered sugar.
Makes about 4 dozen beignets.