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- What are Beignets?
- 🛠 Tools Needed:
- 🍫 Ingredients Needed:
- Sample Schedules for Making Sourdough Beignets
- 🧑🍳 How to Make Sourdough Beignets:
- How to Serve Sourdough Beignets
- How to Store Sourdough Beignets
- Sourdough Beignets FAQs
- Sourdough Beignets
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
Even if you’ve never been to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras, you have to try these sourdough beignets to get a taste of what all the fuss is about!
These sourdough beignets are poofy, pillowy, and fried for a delicious treat. They’re similar to donuts in flavor, but even easier to make because beignets only require one proof.
Top the hot beignets with a generous dusting of powdered sugar and you’ve got a delicious Mardi Gras classic that goes well with coffee or a chocolate dipping sauce.
Learn how to make this sourdough beignets recipe below with my detailed recipe guide that walks you through each step of the process.
What are Beignets?
Traditionally, beignets (ben-YAYZ) are made of a yeast-based dough, deep-fried, and topped with powdered sugar. In French, beignets roughly translates to “fritter”.
Other variations of beignets exist including ones made with pâte à choux and are sometimes filled with jam or chocolate. The recipe that follows is quite traditional, but with the addition of sourdough starter instead of instant baker’s yeast.
Beignets are similar to donuts. However, beignets only proof once, are lighter and puffier than donuts, and are typically square-shaped. They’re often topped with powdered sugar and best served hot, straight from the fryer.
These treats are popular in New Orleans, Louisiana, especially at Café du Monde, where the beignets are served with chicory coffee at breakfast, for dessert, or as a snack. They’re even featured in the Disney animated film The Princess and the Frog, set in New Orleans.
While you can enjoy them any time of year, beignets are most popular during Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Carnival celebrations.
Other popular foods around the world eaten on this day include pączki (Polish donuts), fasnachts (Pennsylvania Dutch fried donuts), king cake, pancakes, and more.
🛠 Tools Needed:
Click the links below for my tool recommendations.
- Baking Scale
- Thermometer, for frying
- Pastry wheel (can also use a pizza cutter or sharp knife)
- Spider strainer, for frying (or a metal slotted spoon)
- Rolling pin (optional)
- Dutch oven or a large pot, for frying
- Stand Mixer (recommended)
- Since this is a high-hydration, wet dough, a stand mixer will mix the dough easier and develop gluten faster. If you don’t have one, you can use a hand mixer or knead the dough by hand. Follow the same indicators to know when the dough has finished mixing instead of the mixing times.
🍫 Ingredients Needed:
Click on the links below for my ingredient recommendations.
- Bread Flour
- A high-protein flour like bread flour will create a lighter beignet that will puff up in the oil. However, you can use all-purpose for this recipe as well.
- Active Sourdough Starter
- Evaporated Milk
- Since beignets are only made with simple ingredients and only have a single rise, we want to add as much flavor to the dough as possible for the tastiest beignets. I use one 5 oz small can for this recipe.
- The evaporated milk adds body to the dough, almost like malted milk powder, with its concentrated milk flavor. Note, this is NOT sweetened condensed milk. Evaporated milk is unsweetened.
- Use whole milk or buttermilk as a substitution.
- Unsalted Butter, melted
- Granulated Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Sea Salt
- Neutral oil, for frying
- You can any neutral oil for frying beignets like vegetable, grapeseed, or canola oil. Cottonseed oil is apparently what Café du Monde recommends. Avocado oil or sunflower oil works well here, too.
- Essentially, you want to avoid any oil that adds too much flavor to the beignets like olive oil or peanut oil.
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
Sample Schedules for Making Sourdough Beignets
Below are two sample schedules for making sourdough beignets.
You can make them on the same day if you mix the dough in the morning and only minimally chill the dough. Alternatively, you can make breakfast beignets by chilling the dough overnight or up to two days in advance.
For both, the times are flexible and adjustable. Just remember that if you make the same-day beignets, you will need 150 grams of active sourdough starter that’s ready to use by mixing time. You can make a levain the night before.
|Same-Day Sourdough Beignets|
|9am: Mix Dough|
|2:20-3:30pm: Chill (an hour or longer)|
|3:30pm: Shape and Heat Oil|
|3:40-4pm: Fry Beignets and Serve|
|Day 1||Day 2|
|9am: Mix Dough||8am: Shape and Heat Oil|
|9:20am-2:20pm: Proof||8:10-8:30am: Fry Beignets and Serve|
|2:20pm and up to two days: Chill|
🧑🍳 How to Make Sourdough Beignets:
Follow this visual and detailed recipe guide as you bake this easy Sourdough Beignets recipe.
1. Mix the Wet Ingredients
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment, mix the following:
- One egg
- 50 grams of sugar
- 142 grams of evaporated milk (5 oz, an entire small can)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 108 grams of room-temperature water
- 45 grams of melted and cooled unsalted butter (3 TBS)
- 150 grams of active sourdough starter (100% hydration)
Note: To make a levain the night before for this dough, mix 10 grams of sourdough starter, 70 grams of bread flour, and 70 grams of water together. Let it rise overnight. Adjust the feeding ratios accordingly on how fast or slow your starter rises. You want 150 grams of starter total.
2. Add the Dry Ingredients and Mix
Dump 375 grams of bread flour and ½ teaspoon of sea salt into the bowl of wet ingredients.
Begin mixing the beignet dough on low speed and gradually increase it to medium speed and mix for about 10 minutes.
At first, the dough will be very sticky and wet. Don’t fret! After you continue to mix it, it will start to come together around the dough hook and form a smooth dough.
Mix the dough until it is smooth, supple, doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl, and passes the windowpane test.
For the windowpane test, pull a section of the dough with your hands and spread it apart. You’re looking for a dough that you can spread into a thin membrane that light can pass through without it tearing. This will tell you if enough gluten has been developed. If it tears quickly, it needs to be mixed more.
Note: The dough will be similar in texture to my brioche dough if you’ve made it before for my dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, or maritozzi. However, it is a little stickier since there’s much less butter.
3. Proof the Dough
Transfer the dough to a medium-sized mixing bowl for its only proofing.
Cover and place in a warm location to proof for about five hours, or until it’s doubled in size.
I keep my dough at 78-80ºF in my Brød and Taylor folding bread proofer.
However, if you hand-mixed the dough or it seemed very slack, it may benefit from additional strength. You can add a couple of stretch and folds to the dough during fermentation here.
4. Chill the Dough
At this point, you have a couple of options, which I’ve listed in my sample schedules above.
You can chill the dough for at least an hour or you can chill the dough overnight and up to two days.
For same-day beignets, chill the dough for at least an hour so it will be easier to shape, roll out, and cut.
Alternatively, you can opt to chill the dough overnight and up to two days in advance. This is what I typically do for most of my breads to add flavor and schedule a bake on my own time. But, I do not find it necessary for this dough since there’s no second proof.
5. Shape and Cut the Beignets
Shaping beignets is quite easy and doesn’t require exact measurements like croissants, for example.
Generously flour your work surface as the dough can be quite sticky. Then, dump the dough out onto the surface.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. You can use your hands to stretch the dough out too, but a rolling pin will make it more even.
Next, use a pastry wheel or a sharp knife to cut 1 ½ inch strips of dough. If you prefer larger beignets, cut out two-inch strips.
Now cut the strips perpendicular to your last cut into dozens of squares roughly the same size. Trim up the edges or any rounded corners to try to get square beignets. It’s okay if some are different sizes.
I typically get anywhere from 35-42 beignets.
Transfer the beignets to a cutting board, sheet pan, or platter and move them near the frying area.
6. Fry the Beignets
Over a stovetop, fill a Dutch oven or large pot with at least three inches of neutral oil for frying. Keep a clip-on candy or frying thermometer in the pot or check the temperature often with an instant-read thermometer.
Turn the heat on medium-high and patiently keep an eye on the temperature of the oil until it reaches 350-370ºF (177-188ºC).
Please note that frying can be dangerous! This isn’t an activity for children or pets to be around and I wear liquid-proof gloves the entire time I fry. Don’t ever leave the pot of hot oil alone on the stovetop without supervision.
350ºF to 370ºF is the temperature range for frying beignets. And remember, once you add the beignets, they will lower the temperature of the frying oil slightly. Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the oil in this range as you fry.
As the oil is heating, set up your frying area with all the tools you’ll need like an assembly line.
For example, I keep the cut beignets on a cutting board nearby and place a wire cooling rack with paper towels on it beside the pot of oil. I place the spider strainer or sieve nearby so I can easily access it when the oil is hot enough.
How to Fry Beignets
- When the oil is between 350-370ºF, carefully drop one beignet at a time into the hot oil. Initially, they may sink, but they should float and puff up quickly. Drop a few more beignets into the oil, but do not crowd the pot.
- Fry on one side for about 2 minutes, or until the side is golden brown. Flip them over with the spider and fry them for another minute or two.
- Once both sides are golden brown, lift the beignets out of the oil with the spider strainer and transfer them to a cooling rack lined with a layer of paper towels.
- Repeat the process with the remainder beignets, watching the thermometer throughout to ensure the oil stays within range. The entire frying process typically takes about 15-20 minutes.
7. Top with Powdered Sugar and Serve
Finally, dust the hot beignets with powdered sugar and serve them immediately.
Another easy method to coat the beignets in sugar is to place them in a brown paper bag, top them with sugar, and shake the bag.
How to Serve Sourdough Beignets
Simplicity is key when serving beignets! They’re typically only served hot and only with powdered sugar.
You can enjoy beignets any time of day but are most popular at breakfast or as a Mardi Gras celebratory treat. They’re often served with chicory coffee or cafés au lait.
However, other variations of beignets exist. After frying, you can fill them with pastry cream, melted chocolate, or jam for a filled-donut flair. You can also dip the beignets in chocolate or jam or drizzle in honey!
How to Store Sourdough Beignets
Beignets are best served warm and straight from the fryer.
Like most fried foods, beignets don’t store the best. If not eaten immediately, store them in a sealed container without powdered sugar and reheat them slightly in the microwave before eating. They’ll keep a couple of days at room temperature like this, but will dry out quickly.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing beignets.
Sourdough Beignets FAQs
Are beignets the same as donuts?
While they have similarities, beignets are not the same as donuts. Yeasted donuts receive two proofs before they’re baked or fried, whereas beignets only proof once.
As a result, beignets are lighter and airier than donuts.
Can I make the dough ahead of time?
You can make the beignet dough ahead of time and store the proofed dough in the refrigerator for up to two days.
Can I make vegan sourdough beignets?
Yes, simply replace the evaporated milk with plant-based milk and eliminate the egg.
Why are my beignets tough or dense?
Beignets should be pillowy and poofy. Tough or dense beignets may be the result of under proofing. Next time, be sure to proof the dough long enough so it doubles in size.
- 1 Egg
- 50 grams Granulated Sugar
- 108 grams Water
- 142 grams Evaporated Milk, 5 oz, all from one small can
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 150 grams Sourdough Starter
- 45 grams Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled, 3 TBS
- 375 grams Bread Flour
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- Neutral Oil, for frying, like canola, cottonseed, or vegetable oil
- Powdered Sugar, for dusting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment, mix the wet ingredients including the egg, sugar, water, evaporated milk, vanilla extract, sourdough starter, and melted butter.1 Egg, 50 grams Granulated Sugar, 108 grams Water, 142 grams Evaporated Milk, 1 tsp Vanilla Extract, 150 grams Sourdough Starter, 45 grams Unsalted Butter
- Add the bread flour and salt to the bowl. Mix on low speed and gradually increase to medium speed and mix for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and passes the windowpane test (see guide above).375 grams Bread Flour, 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl, cover, and proof in a warm location for about five hours or until it's doubled in size.
- Chill the dough for at least an hour or overnight and up to two days, depending on your schedule.
- Generously flour a work surface and dump the sticky dough out onto the surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a large rectangle about ¼-inch thick. The exact dimensions are not important.Use a pastry wheel or sharp knife to cut out long strips of dough about 1 ½ inches thick. Then, cut the beignets out into squares. You should end up with 35-42 beignets, depending on how much you rolled out the dough and how big your squares are.
- Fill a Dutch oven or large pot with at least three inches of neutral oil for frying. Bring the temperature of the oil up to 350-370ºF (177-188ºC). Meanwhile, place a cooling rack or plate lined with paper towels nearby.Carefully drop one beignet at a time into the pot, but don't crowd the pot. Fry for a couple of minutes on one side until golden brown. Then, flip them over with a spider strainer and fry another minute or two until golden brown all over.Remove the beignets with a spider strainer and place them on top of the paper towels. Repeat with the remainder of the beignets.
- Finally, dust the hot beignets with powdered sugar and serve them immediately.