French Beignets (boules de Berlin)

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It may seem like the title of this post is a bit redundant considering beignets are French by origin, but I felt the need to clarify because of the variety of beignets that now exist throughout the world. Particularly, I felt the need to distinguish these French beignets from the ones you’d find in New Orleans or many American bakeries.

French Beignets

When I first went to Paris, I spotted beignets on a street vendor cart, not knowing they were beignets. They were round rather than square, like the beignets we often eat here in the States.

When I actually bit into one, I found them much more cake-like than the beignets I was accustomed to. The beignets I’ve eaten in the States have often been somewhat hollow-like, much lighter and crisper than the French beignets I ate abroad.

Since enjoying the soft, pillowy rounds that I enjoyed in Paris, I haven’t been able to eat any other kind of beignet; French beignets are simply divine

french beignets

french beignets

I tried a lot of beignet recipes in an attempt to recreate the French beignets I enjoyed in France, but was having a hard time finding a recipe that would yield those softer, denser doughnuts.

It wasn’t until I found a recipe for the German Berliner doughnut that I created exactly what I had in mind. Go figure!

 

The French actually call their yeast-y beignets “boules de Berlin,” literally translated to balls of Berlin as the dough is that of the Berliner doughnut and is round in shape.

If only I had known that before I started my recipe search!

french beignets

The French fill their beignets with pastry cream, chocolate (i.e. nutella), or serve them sans filling, as I’ve done here. The dough is sweet and tantalizing on its own, but the extra dusting of powdered sugar makes these a real treat.

They’re also incredibly easy to make and come together in about 2 hours, including resting time for the dough. These beignets are actually so easy to make and just so darn good that I highly suggest making them when you have a group of friends around to help you consume them.

They’re just that addictive!


french beignets

French Beignets

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Pillow-y, soft fried doughnuts dusted in powdered sugar. 

Ingredients

  • 2.25 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to 105°F
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • powdered sugar, for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add the dry yeast and the warm milk. Give it a light stir, then let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy - about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the yeast mixture, the egg and egg yolk, salt, and vanilla extract. Turn the mixer onto to low to combine.
  4. While the mixer is running, slowly add the flour in. Mix until you get a smooth dough. Grab the dough and shape it into a smooth round. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in a warm place for approximately 1 hour, until it's slightly expanded in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out into a 1/4" thick oval or rectangle. Use a 3" biscuit cutter to cut out rounds from the dough. Place these rounds on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Cover them loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap and let the rounds rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Heat the oil in a saucepan until its either 350°F, or a scrap of dough dropped in the oil immediately starts to bubble. Add the dough rounds in, 2 or 3 at a time max, and fry each side until it's golden brown. Transfer the fried beignets to a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Once they're no longer hot but instead just warm, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 12 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 192
french beignets

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33 thoughts on “French Beignets (boules de Berlin)”

  1. You absolutely need to use the freshest yeast you can get your hands on. Beignets will not turn out right without super-fresh yeast.

    Also: Beignets were one of the first things I ever learned to make with my Cajun grandmother (born 1903). I won’t part with our family recipe for love or money; however, I will say that Grandmere was seriously old school about her beignets, which meant she used cream and lard, not milk and shortening. We also cooked the beignets in melted lard. Makes all the difference in the taste and texture. I nearly puke if anyone tries to pass off a fried dough ball made with evaporated milk and shortening as a beignet. They do NOT taste like the old school beignets that my grandmother learned from her mother. Not even close.

    I grew up thinking beignets were what everybody had for breakfast most mornings, with a piece of fruit and some juice, milk or hot chocolate. Little did I know…

    Reply
  2. These look absolutely scrumptious!
    We went to a little local Paris-inspired restaurant for brunch on Sunday and had some of their French Beignets, so I had to do a search to find recipes so I can make them!

    How would go about inserting the Nutella or chocolate or cream, etc?

    Reply
    • Hi Jan! That sounds like a great Sunday to me! 🙂 In general, when you’re filling doughnuts, you want to wait until they’ve cooled to room temperature first. Then you’ll want to take a wooden skewer and pierce it into the doughnut. While the skewer is in the doughnut, wiggle it around a bit to just slightly widen the hole. Then, fill a pastry bag that’s been fitted with a plain, round tip with the nutella or cream, etc. Poke the pastry bag into the created hole and slowly squeeze out the filling into the doughnut. You’ll want to do this slowly so the filling has a chance to spread throughout the interior of the doughnut. Hope that helps! 🙂

      Reply
  3. I am not a novice baker but have only worked with yeast a few times. I tried this recipe the first time using french flour and the dough was very sticky and did not rise much. The second time I used KAF all purpose flour and it was very sticky again so I added more flour to be able to handle it. It did not rise much on the first rise and after rolling it out it did not rise at all. I used active dry yeast the first time and my milk may have been too warm. The second time used instant and proofed it in 113 degree milk. It seemed active when it went into the mixer. Could the salt have killed the yeast during mixing?

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for your comment. I don’t think it was the flour, as KAF AP flour and french-style flour are very similar in gluten content. In general, enriched doughs like this are sticky because of the eggs, milk, and butter that’s used. That said, I think your warm milk may have killed the yeast and that’s why it didn’t rise both times. I just included a note in the recipe card ingredients next to the milk to be more specific, outlining a temperature of 105°F. I tend to warm my milk or water from 100°F to 110°F for yeast activation. It can seem silly, but even a couple degrees too warm can affect your yeast. Also, were you sure your yeast was fresh? In any case, when you’re checking your yeast, you’ll want to make sure that after a few minutes, you get that bubbly, foamy look once you’ve combined the yeast and warm liquid. Something else to be conscious of when you’re baking with yeast is your environment. For instance, if I were to make this recipe right now in this cold weather, I’d probably have to create a warm environment for my dough to rise in because just letting it sit out on the counter to rise would take much longer than normal – my house is very cold right now! So instead, I’d turn on my oven’s warm setting for 30 seconds, then turn the oven off, and place the dough in this slightly warm, draft-free place to rise. Just a little tip in case it’s also cold where you are! 🙂

      Reply
      • Side note that might help, if you use “bulk” yeast that you scoop into a bag I find it to go stale much quicker. I always use yeast that’s in a jar (I bake a lot so I need a lot lol!) Once you open it you MUST keep it in the fridge as it will spoil…

        For rising something we do at the house is turn the microwave on for 3 minutes and just put the bowl in there as an alternative to the oven if youre making dinner with something in the oven.

        On that note, we plan on trying these this weekend as it’s our french themed weekend! Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  4. I just got back from Paris and became addicted to these. The Pâtisserie we went to in the morning had nuttella filled and fruit filled every morning! I think I am going through withdrawals and will need to make this soon!

    Reply
    • Oh that sounds amazing, Lindsey! I definitely need to make these with some Nutella in them! Welcome back home! 🙂

      Reply
  5. I had beignets for breakfast a few months ago and they were amazing- I have been wanting to make them since 🙂 Thanks for the recipe! These take me back to brunch time at my favorite brunch spot in D.C.

    Reply
  6. You are speaking my foodie love language with beignets, Beeta. New Orleans is a special place for the Hubby and I (one of our dogs is named Nola after the fantastic city) and I love their beignets. I have a feeling these french ones will quickly become my favorite and I’ll have to make them soon so I can compare. I also pinned the recipe immediately. Yummy carbs!!! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you, Karrie! What a cute name for your doggy! Love that. Thanks so much for your sweet words and I really hope you enjoy these <3

      Reply

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