Beignet Pastry Balls
A Delicious French Subculture in the Lebanese Cuisine
Homemade Beignets were regular at home in my childhood and growing up. Delicious, deep-fried, and easy to make, they are softer and lighter than the usual American donuts, and less sweet than the syrupy Middle-Eastern Awamat donuts. The recipe differs from both.
Originally French, the Beignets have been part of our food culture for decades. It is one of these pastries that I learned to make in my early teenage, and I would make them often. It is how present they have been in our cuisine along with several French dishes and… cultural features.
The inclusions of various French features in our culture occurred several decades before the French Mandate of Lebanon (1923-1946). France’s significant educational and cultural impact started as of 1860 with the French Catholic Missionary Schools. The French language became a must, taught with the Arabic equally in our schools, and deemed the socialization language. As of 1973, Lebanon is a member-state of the Francophonie; an international organization of countries “where a significant proportion of the population are French speakers or where there is a notable affiliation with French culture.”
The ingredients are simple. The trick is in the combining method that requires the separation of the egg yolks and the whites, adding the whisked fluffy white the last before bringing it all into a homogeneous dough.
We form it into small balls and deep-fry them for about 4-5 minutes. Powder-sugar or icing is sprinkled on while the beignets are still hot and before serving.
Beignet Pastry Balls
- 1 cup Flour or 250 gr
- 2 eggs (large)
- 3/4 cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp Butter melted
- 2 tsps Dry Yeast
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pinch Salt
- Vegetable oil to fry
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Preparing the Dough
Separate the egg whites and the yolks into different bowls.
Whisk well the yolks and stir in the sugar, the melted butter, the water, and the vanilla. Combine all well.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, the baking powder, the yeast, and the salt, then add them to the yolks mixture and mix it all well.
Whisk well the egg whites in into a fluffy cream. Pour it onto the prepared mixture, mix it all well, and work it into a homogeneous dough.
Making the Dough Balls
Sprinkle flour on the counter, and place the dough on.
Divide the dough into small balls, and set them aside.
Preparing to Deep-Fry the Beignets
Cover a large plate with two layers of kitchen paper-towels, and have it handy to drop on the fried beignets once done. Let's call it Plate #1
Have at the side your serving plate.
Place a saucepan on the stove, pour in clean (unused) vegetable oil up to a quarter or so of the pan.
LET'S START DEEP-FRYING!
Heat the frying oil on high.
When the oil starts bubbling a little, use a tablespoon to gently immerse in few dough balls at a time. Leave enough space between them to allow them to grow and puff up.
NOTE: The Beignets brown up quickly. So be pending to turn them as soon as golden. This all should take you a 4-5 minutes.
With a perforated cooking spoon, carefully remove the golden beignets from the oil and onto Plate #1.
Proceed with the next bulk of dough balls. As they fry, dub a kitchen towel-paper on the beignets of Plate #1 to remove the excess of oil, and transfer them onto the serving plate.
Proceed in this way until all the beignets are done, and nicely arranged on the serving plate. Dust with sugar powder while the beignets are still hot.
The Beignets are delicious when warm but also at room temperature. Enjoy them!
While you are here, take a look at some Sweet Snacks of our Kids’ Cuisine!