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.
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.
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!
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!
Pillow-y, soft fried doughnuts dusted in powdered sugar.
- 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
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.
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.
Add the yeast mixture, the egg and egg yolk, salt, and vanilla extract. Turn the mixer onto to low to combine.
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.
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.
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.
Once they're no longer hot but instead just warm, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.