Friday, June 27, 2014

beignets update

After my post in 2011 about Cafe Du Monde beignets, been reading more about beignets and trying to unlock the secrets. Sometimes I get a bit obsessive about fried foods, and beignets and donuts have been on my mind a lot (just got Lara Ferroni's donut book last week).

Some other sites have reported that Cafe Du Monde (CDM) uses a blend of flours, which includes rye flour. I don't know about that, but it's worth exploring.

I'm now thinking that some kind of choux paste is used in the making of the beignets. That is, cook flour with butter, buttermilk, sugar and salt until it forms a roux, then beat in the eggs one by one. Maybe they do this and then fry.

Something like this recipe here from Baker Bette, adapted:

Cafe Du Monde Beignet Prototype
Makes about 1 dozen beignets

1/2 cup water (8 fl oz, 240 ml)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1/4 cup)
1/8 tsp kosher salt (omit if using salted butter)
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp dried buttermilk powder
1/2 cup (+ 1/4 cup reserved) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup rye flour
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp yeast

oil for frying (cottonseed is the most traditional, peanut or canola)
powdered sugar for topping


  1. Place water, butter, sugar, and salt in a sauce pot over medium high heat. Stir until butter is melted and everything comes to a boil.
  2. In a separate small bowl, whisk flour and buttermilk powder together.
  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour mixture into the hot butter-water all at once while stirring quickly. Continue to stir and cook off the moisture in the dough until it pulls away from the sides and starts to form into a ball. This should take about 30-60 seconds.
  4. Place dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl if using a hand mixer.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed (speed 3-4), add eggs in one at a time. Do not add another egg until the one before has been completely absorbed into the batter. The batter will look smooth and glossy when ready.
  6. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for 10 minutes (or at room temp), until temp comes down to less than 100F. 
  7. Now sprinkle on yeast and remaining 1/4 cup of flour. 
  8. Knead using dough hook at medium speed (KitchenAid speed #4) for 1 minute. Will still be a sticky dough. 
  9. Cover and let rest at room temp for 30 minutes. 
  10. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to make handling easier. (FYI at this point you can refrigerate overnight until the next morning.)
  11. In a heavy cast iron pot, heat at least 2" of oil to 360F
  12. On a HEAVILY floured surface (1/2 cup of flour on surface!), add dough, sprinkle liberally with at ~1/2 cup flour, roll out to about 1/2" thickness. 
  13. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 2" squares. 
  14. Using a brush or your hands, carefully remove excess flour from top of dough. 
  15. Fry 2-3 pieces at a time, 4 minutes total, flipping as they brown, try to maintain at least 350F temp at all times. They should be a fairly dark brown. 
  16. Drain on rack, dust with powdered sugar.  

Crumb was very ethereal and custardy. Internally, the texture was very light and very good. I think CDMs are more chewy, slightly less tender, but closely custardy.
Crust was pretty smooth, not craggy like CDM. I fried for 2-3 min at around 360-370F, and the crust was very very thin. Also tried frying some of the battered, unrolled dough. These balls had a more even texture.
Flavor was pretty buttery...delicious but not that traditional.
Rye enhances a certain sweetness, but I would dial it back more.

Yeast didn't do anything this time, didn't seem to dissolve into dough. Better to dissolve in a bit of water for 5 min, then add with flour.
Very soft dough, almost goopy, but no problem to roll and handle with the amount of flour specified. 
Thoughts for the future:

  • Try real buttermilk. 
  • Make roux with some high gluten flour? Or add high gluten flour later?
  • Somewhat less butter...or use oil?
Same basic approach could be used to make doughnuts.