Beignets with bay leaf sugar

Beignets with bay leaf sugar

By
From
New Feast
Makes
24
Photographer
Alan Benson

Beignets are a rather sophisticated kind of doughnut – although we prefer to use a choux pastry, instead of the traditional yeast dough, as it makes for a lighter, crisper result. These are elegant enough to serve as dessert – perhaps with ice cream or sorbet on the side.

Fresh bay leaves add a lovely, if surprising, flavour to the dredging sugar, but you could also use a few needles of fresh rosemary or lavender flowers.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
100g unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon caster sugar
300ml water
180g plain flour
3 large eggs
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
your choice of good-quality fruit curd

Bay leaf sugar

Quantity Ingredient
150g caster sugar
2 small–medium fresh bay leaves

Method

  1. To make the bay leaf sugar, pull out and discard the hard central stalks then chop the leaves finely. Put into a mortar with a tablespoon of the sugar and pound as finely as you can to a green, slightly damp, paste. Tip into a larger bowl and mix with the rest of the sugar until evenly distributed. It’s easiest to do this with a hand-held blender. Store in a jar until needed.
  2. To make the beignets, combine the butter, sugar and water in a medium saucepan and slowly bring to the boil so that the butter melts completely. As the liquid boils up, quickly add the flour in one go and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon to incorporate it into the liquid. Beat over a lower heat for 3–4 minutes until the mixture is glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan in a smooth ball.
  3. Tip the hot choux paste into the bowl of a stand-mixer. Beat for a minute on medium speed, then increase it to the maximum. Add the eggs, one at a time, then continue beating on maximum for 5 minutes, until the choux has cooled.
  4. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5 cm nozzle and keep in the fridge for at least an hour, or up to 3 hours, until needed.
  5. When ready to cook, pour vegetable oil into a deep-fryer or saucepan to a depth of around 8 cm and heat to 170°C. Prepare a tray lined with kitchen paper and a dish of the bay leaf sugar.
  6. Hold the piping bag over the oil and squeeze out the choux, slowly and steadily. Snip with scissors at 5 cm lengths, easing them into the oil gently. Fry in batches for 5 minutes, or until they transform into lovely golden brown puffs. Turn them around in the oil to ensure they colour evenly all over. Drain the beignets on kitchen paper for a few seconds then lift them into the dish of bay leaf sugar and coat them evenly.
  7. Serve while warm with a dish of fruit curd for dipping. Or, make a split in each beignet and spoon in a little curd.

Note:

  • If you don’t have a candy thermometer, the oil will have reached the correct temperature when a cube of bread browns lightly in about 30 seconds. Any faster and it will be too hot.
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