Friday, February 20, 2015

Sourdough Beignets - Sourdough Surprises

I keep giving up the wrong thing for Lent. Well, maybe I am choosing the right thing considering how much I struggle. Do you remember 2 years ago when I gave up cake? That March, Sourdough Surprises chose cake as the dish to make. I also had to make 4 dozen cupcakes for a friend's party. Oh, the struggle. I made do by making other sweet things. I survived. I didn't break down once. I just rolled a lot of things in sugar.

This year, I decided to give up refined sugar. Sigh. I noted that we needed to make beignets this month. No problem. All I had to do was make them before Lent. I could have made stuffed savoury ones but that's no fun. Do you want to know when I made these? Ash Wednesday. I clearly hate myself. But I made them and tasted them BEFORE I dusted them with powdered sugar. Sure, there's some sugar in the dough but I realised that I was going to have to give myself some leeway or I'd never be able to survive blog anything during Lent. The beignets without sugar just weren't that satisfying. I mean, it's fried dough so it's going to taste good. But when you know that this fried dough should be covered in sugar but you can't eat any of the sugary ones? It leaves you very unhappy. I made it through the cake-free Lent. I even gave up chocolate last year and survived. But sugar-free? I don't think I can do it. *bites into a cookie*

My friend who lived in New Orleans for a bit gave me two New Orleans cookbooks. I've read through every recipe several times but never made anything. This was the perfect time to finally use them. The beignet recipes in both books were almost identical. One used milk while the other used evaporated milk and water. Pretty much the same.

However, the methods differed. For one recipe, you mixed the dough, immediately chilled it (no time specified) then you rolled them out and fried them. For the other, you were to bulk ferment and proof them. I figured that I'd give my starter some time to do something so I wanted to bulk ferment then roll and fry immediately. My bulk ferment turned into a cold ferment as I ran out of time and had to stash it in the fridge. I also used some buttermilk and added some baking powder.

I added the baking powder because I've seen a few sourdough donut recipes that call for baking powder. Additionally, the beignet mix sold by Cafe du Monde has "baking soda, baking powder and/or yeast". I wanted to add baking soda too since I used buttermilk but I forgot.

So here's the breakdown:

Sourdough Beignets

1 cup 100% mature sourdough starter
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour (divided)
2 teaspoons baking powder
oil, for frying


Mix together the starter, buttermilk, oil, sugar, 2 cups of flour, salt and egg. Dough will be very sticky. Cover and bulk ferment.

When dough is ready, stir in the baking powder and the remaining flour.

Heat a pot with at least an inch of oil to 360 F.

Place the dough on a well floured surface and roll out to a quarter inch thick. Cut into two inch squares.

Fry until golden brown on the underside, turn and fry the other side.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.