Last evening, my daughter and I were reflecting on our February trip to New Orleans.
We were cleaning up after my Kids Mardi Gras class and were deciding if we should have one more beignet before we wrapped the extras up to take home. Our conversation turned to the fact the beignets she had just made were good, but they would have been really great if we were enjoying them standing on the Moon Walk on the levee behind Cafe Du Monde overlooking the Mississippi River in the wind and rain, as we had three times on our trip.
It is hard to nearly impossible to recreate a memory as wonderful as the time you spend with family and/or friends on a trip in a special location. That does not mean the recreation can’t be good, but it will be different.
The beignets actually did turn out great last night. As we discussed in class, part of the success is letting the dough rise before rolling it out and cutting it into the requisite rectangles to then be fried. To ensure a good rise with limited time—as we had with the two-hour class time period—I heated the oven for about 5 minutes, then turned it off, opened the door to let some of the heat escape, and then placed the covered dough in the oven for about 30 minutes until it had doubled in size. Once the dough was punched down, it was time to let the good times roll. Happy Mardi Gras!
¾ cup water
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons shortening
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
Method: Mix water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Let it sit ten minutes. Add the egg, salt and buttermilk. Mix well. Add about half of the flour and the shortening. Mix. Add the other half of the flour and form a dough. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Use a little extra flour if needed. Let sit covered in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, or as long as possible. Preheat the oil in a skillet to 350ºF. Roll the dough out and cut into about 24 squares. Stretch each square a bit before gently setting it in the oil. Cook turning frequently until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar.