Happy Mardis Gras day!
Even though I’m not from New Orleans, growing up in the South we always did a little something special on Mardis Gras day. That something special ranged from making beignets and watching Muzzy in high school French class to wearing beads and drinking beer in college. And you know what? Over the years, I’ve discovered that I much prefer dessert over beer. Especially beignets!
And it just so happens that these beignets are special. You know why? Because unlike the normal deep fried fritters, these guys are much lighter and actually baked in the oven.
Although these beignets contain yeast, I promise it’s not scary. They go from bowl to mouth in an hour flat and only require an extra short rising time, due to the fact that they also contain baking powder.
I was going to make some sort of salted caramel or chocolate sauce to drizzle on, but after one powdered sugar covered bite, I realized I didn’t have to. Can you even believe that?! They are absolutely perfect on their own and could even be part of a dinner bread basket because they really aren’t too sweet.
This is a great recipe to unleash your inner baker goddess on. Especially if working with yeast makes you nervous! What better way to get more comfortable baking than with making soft, fluffy, powdered sugar covered French doughnuts?
Oven Baked Beignets
ever so slightly adapted from Good Housekeeping
makes about 18 beignets
1/4 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F)
1 packet active dry yeast
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
5 T cold butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk
Combine the yeast, warm water and a pinch of the sugar in a small bowl and set aside for five minutes. The water will start to look foamy and bubble a little bit. That’s normal.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Using your fingers, cut in the butter and work mixture together until it resembles coarse sand.
Mix together the egg and the buttermilk. Add to yeast and then add to dry ingredients. Stir together to form a soft dough and then continue to knead (or use your Kitchen Aid) until dough becomes smooth and elastic. If using a Kitchen Aid, keep your speed on medium and beat with paddle attachment (or dough hook) for 6-8 minutes until smooth. If using your hands, make sure you are working on a lightly floured surface. The dough will feel smooth like pizza dough when it’s done.
Spray a bowl with cooking spray and drop in your dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. Then, roll out dough into a large rectangle or square on a floured surface. Cut square into five long strips and then cut those strips into squares. Place squares on a lined baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake beignets for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Dust with powdered sugar and eat warm.
**To learn more about working with yeast, read this.