Tis the season for all things New Orleans! I mean the Mardi Gras season, that is! If you needed any excuse to make festive colored cakes (King Cake) throw plastic beads, or make fried dough (Beignets), this is it!
This quintessential New Orleans treat, the Beignet:(pronounced: ben-yay), is a crispy-on-the-outside, feather-light, heavenly doughnut, flash fried and smothered in confectioner’s sugar … and totally full of gluten. They are unique to New Orleans, so I haven’t been lucky enough to have one since my parents’ trip to Bourbon Street in the ’80s, when they brought back boxes of famous Café du Monde Beignet Mix. For years, the thought of ever enjoying such a soft, airy, gluten-free puffed doughnut seemed like an unachievable dream to me.
Now, sharing my gluten-free version with a host of friends and family (and one Louisiana native), I am happy to pronounce my gluten-free recipe a resounding success! Whether you have had and now miss Beignets since going gluten-free, or are just curious to try these little puffs of New Orleans deliciousness, give this recipe a try, whether it’s Mardi Gras or not!
I took these treasures onto DC’s Fox News recently and they were (not surprisingly), a huge hit!
(P.S. Even though New Orleans didn’t win the big game this year, if you have friended Drew Brees on FB (or otherwise), be sure to send him this recipe too – the 2010 Saints’ Superbowl MVP is gluten-free!)
New Orleans Beignets
- 1 cup warm water (110° F)
- 1/4 cup granulated cane sugar
- 1 package rapid rise yeast
- 1 large egg (or 1 Tbs. vegetable oil + 2 Tbs. water + 2 tsp. baking powder)
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk (dairy or see directions below for non-dairy)
- 3 3/4 cup Jules Gluten Free™ All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbs. shortening (e.g. Earth Balance® Shortening Sticks)
- vegetable oil for frying
- confectioner’s sugar to dust Beignets
Combine the warm water, sugar and yeast; stir and set aside to activate the yeast. Allow mixture to sit until it becomes frothy, at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together the egg and milk. Add 1 cup of the Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour and the salt. Beat until integrated. Cut the shortening into small chunks and mix in with the 1 cup flour, egg and milk. Slowly beat in remaining flour and the proofed yeast mixture until completely mixed. The dough should not be stiff or sticky at this point.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface or pastry mat dusted with Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour. Roll gently into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle. Using a large, sharp knife, cut strips of dough 2 inches wide, on a diagonal (not straight up and down, leaving a diagonal edge to the strips). Cut across these strips in the same way, creating diamond-shaped Beignets. Leave any scraps of dough to test the temperature of the oil – do not knead together and cut again. Place cut Beignets onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover loosely with a damp towel. Allow to rise in a warming drawer or an oven brought to 200° F, then turned off. The Beignets will roughly double in size after rising for 50 – 90 minutes (I’ve left them covered overnight to rise as well, and they turned out great!)
After the Beignets have risen, pour vegetable oil (high heat, preferably) into a large saucepan to a depth of 2-3 inches. Heat the oil on medium-high to 310° – 360° F. Test the temperature of the oil by using any risen scraps of dough remaining. Gently submerge a piece of dough in oil – if it rises to the top of the oil immediately and begins to bubble, the oil is hot enough; if it does not rise to the top of the oil, it is not hot enough. If the dough turns dark brown within 30 seconds of being submerged, the oil is too hot.
Once the oil is to temperature, gently submerge 2 – 3 Beignets in hot oil and cook until lightly browned and puffed on each side – approximately 1- 2 minutes only. Remove with a skimmer or slotted spoon to drain on paper towels, and sprinkle confectioner’s sugar liberally over top of each Beignet. Serve warm.
Yield: approximately 15 Beignets.
Directions for Non-Dairy Evaporated Milk:
Measure 1 cup non-dairy milk of choice and pour into a small saucepan. Over low-medium heat, stir milk occasionally to prevent a skin from forming or the milk from sticking to the pan. Heat until the milk is reduced by half to measure 1/2 cup of liquid (allow approximately 30 minutes for this process). Once reduced, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding to dough per recipe.