I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, but not for Mardi Gras. When I was a kid, my mom and I used to watch all sorts of shows about haunted places and ghosts. New Orleans came up a lot, so I’ve always wanted to do one of the haunted tours. Oh, yeah, and I want some beignets because they sound really good.
Because of the pandemic, traveling to New Orleans is something we’ll do years from now, but I still like to dream. There isn’t much I can do about the ghosts since we don’t live in a haunted building and my imaginary friend (a ghost) apparently decided to move on from my parents’ house some years ago. That leaves me with just the beignets.
So, I’d been thinking about making them for a couple of weeks. It was just my family constantly asking for bread that kept me from making them. If I’d known how fast it actually was to make them, I would have made them a lot sooner.
Beignets are pieces of friend choux pastry. And of course there’s a ratio for choux pastry! It’s 1:2:2:1 flour to liquid to egg to fat. The liquid is usually water, though it can also be milk. The fat is usually butter or lard. Or so my research told me. I used flour, water, egg, and butter.
Making choux pastry is actually really easy. You just need a pot. Heat the water and butter until the butter is melted, then stir in the flour. Once that has been fully mixed in, the dough will stir up into a nice ball. Add the egg and stir until it’s fully incorporated. It’ll seem runny, which is why flour will be your best friend.
I learned the hard way to use lots and lots and lots of flour. I didn’t have much dough since I only used 1 egg (that would be 25g flour: 50g water: 50g egg: 25g butter), so I lightly floured my small cutting board and spooned the dough out. Then I put my lightly floured fingers into the dough…and became attached. I ended up spooning flour onto the board, my hands, and the dough probably close to half a dozen times. But I eventually got it flattened into a rough rectangle and then cut into square-ish shapes. Well, what hadn’t already become hopelessly stuck to me.
Since beignets are fried, I heated a pot with about an inch and a half of oil. When it was hot, I dropped in two pieces and watched them puff and brown. One ended up concave and sporting a hole, but, within a minute or so, both sides were nicely browned, so I spooned them out onto some paper napkins on a plate to drain the oil and kept cooking.
With a healthy dusting of powdered sugar, they absolutely tasted the way I always thought beignets would taste. My stomach is not a fan of fried foods, so they went in nice and neat, and then sat in my stomach for what felt like the rest of the day. It took less than 45 minutes from the time I started, to the time my daughter and I finished eating them, so I can see why they’re a popular breakfast food!
So, if you find yourself longing to travel to New Orleans, I can’t guarantee this is anything like what they serve there, but maybe it’ll satisfy you about as much as it did me. It really isn’t that hard!