This picture was taken in New Orleans last September when my buddies took me to try the local specialty: beignet.
Yes, we have had rather a lot to drink when I tried them; you see, I had already discovered that New Orleans is a city where it is very difficult to stay sober.
Still, the first bite tasted vaguely familiar.
I took another bite: it did taste of my childhood.
Is it possible?
Yes it is. We make this pastry in Bulgaria (and I’ve asked: Greeks, Turkish people and Albanians know it as well) and call it ‘mekitzi’.
So, I asked my sister (who is staying with us for the weekend) to tell me the recipe and make beignet for breakfast tomorrow morning.
Here is what you need
To make beignet you need:
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil (preferably vegetable or sunflower oil)
- 1 cup lukewarm water
Have to say that this ingredients make perfectly good beignet. You can, if you decide to, put an egg in the mixture. This will change the texture but doesn’t make much for the taste. Skip the egg and eat for less by cutting 20 pence off the recipe.
Here is what you do
Pour the lukewarm water in a large bowl. (Be careful here because the temperature of the water matters a great deal. Lukewarm water is the temperature of your body; which means that when you put your finger in it you won’t feel a difference. A basic test but it works.)
Dissolve the yeast in the water.
Add the sugar, salt and the oil.
Start adding the flour gradually. Use a wooden spoon to mix at first. When the dough is ‘average’ you can turn it on a floured silicon sheet and start kneading it (you need the silicon sheet if you don’t want to spend the rest of your weekend cleaning the kitchen.
‘Average’ dough, according to my sister, means that it is neither hard nor soft. I decided to show you and it looks like that:
Also, if you are not very experienced at this, you knead it like this:
After kneading it for five-ten minutes, put the dough in a shopping plastic bag (make sure it is clean, right). Tie the handles and make sure that there is a lot of space for the dough to rise.
Put the plastic bag in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, when you open the fridge a plastic bag full of fluffy, risen dough will greet you.
Take the bag out of the fridge.
In a deep frying pan put a generous amount of oil (you need a lot of oil to fry these things).
Put some cold water in a bowl.
Put your fingers in the bowl and after that take a ball of dough the size of a large walnut. Spread it with your fingers and put in the oil to fry. Turn it over to make sure it is done on both sides.
This is what my sister does:
Do this until the dough finishes.
This is what my sister’s beignet look like:
I know that in New Orleans they come with icing sugar. Then again, the French eat pancakes mainly with lemon and sugar.
You don’t have to be that boring. You can eat beignet with any jam, with feta cheese (of course I’ll say this; we Bulgarians eat everything with feta cheese) and they are absolutely delicious with honey.
Yes, beignet is fattening. But once in a while we all need a treat and this one is inexpensive and fun to make. You can spoil yourself and your family with a tasty breakfast for that costs approximately 15 pence to make. Now, this is what I call to eat for less!