Fried dough. I mean… Can you really go wrong? I would argue not. There is just something magical that happens when you drop dough into a hot bath of fat. Magical and delicious.
We’re on to Episode 3 of Pate a Choux week! Beignets! And I feel I need to have a disclaimer on these because some people from New Orleans (or Nawlins) might get a little feisty with me about thinking these aren’t proper beignets. I get it.
In French, beignet means fried dough. It is synonymous with the English word fritter and in France it specifically refers to deep fried choux pastry (unless wikipedia is a total liar, which is entirely possible). So since pate a choux is a French pastry dough, then we’re going to stick with calling these beignets even though in New Orleans the dough for making beignets is typically more of a traditional yeast doughnut dough. I promise, they are still really tasty and actually much easier to make!
If you are from New Orleans and have a problem with calling these beignets, then call them Zeppole! I was thinking about how so many cultures have their own variations of fried dough. And I found this recipe for zeppole from Giada and she uses a pate a choux as the base of her recipe. Though I have also seen numerous recipes that do not use choux as the base of zeppole. Whatever. Call them what you want. As long as hot fried dough is in my mouth, I don’t really care what it’s called.
If you are just tuning into Pate a Choux week, welcome! On Tuesday I did a tutorial about the basics of pate a choux, how to make it, and all it’s various applications. That is a great post to check out first if you are unfamiliar with how to make this simple and incredibly versatile pastry dough.
Yesterday we baked the pastry for eclairs and filled them with cinnamon whipped cream and topped them with an espresso glaze. Pate a choux has many applications when baking it. But today, we fry!
Check out the rest of the Pate a Choux and All it Can Do series here:
How to Make Basic Pate a Choux
Eclairs with Espresso Glaze and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Classic Cream Puffs
Sharp Cheddar and Thyme Cheese Puffs (Gougère)
One of the glorious things about pate a choux is the amount of rise you get without any yeast or chemical leavening. This comes from the amount of moisture in the batter. If you have ever made popovers, it is a similar idea. The moisture content begins to evaporate and create steam when heated creating rise. These beignets are perfectly hollow in the middle once cooked, resulting in a very light and airy treat.
Tune in tomorrow for some more pate a choux and all it can do! (the rhyming just never gets old)
- 1 cup water (8 fl oz, 240 ml)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1/2 cup, 4 oz, 113 grams)
- large pinch kosher salt
- 2 TBSP granulated sugar (0.8 oz, 24 grams)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (4.5 oz, 127 grams)
- 4 large eggs
- oil for frying (canola, vegetable)
- powdered sugar for topping
- 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.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add flour into the mixture 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 a minute.
- Place dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl if using a hand mixer. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer on medium-low speed, 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. (Alternatively, you can mix in the eggs by hand. This just takes a bit longer. Mix each egg until completely absorbed before adding the next).
- Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to overnight.
- Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a pan over medium-high heat to 350F.
- Use a small scoop or a spoon to drop about 1 TBSP of batter per beignet into the oil. They will puff up considerably. Fry in batches.
- Turn beignets after several minutes and continue to cook until each side is golden, the beignet is puffed, and it is started to create a seam (the dough will start to burst creating a seam when it is ready). This will take about 7-9 minutes of frying. Be patient so that the inside is not uncooked. Drain on paper towels.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.