We received these beignet recipes on our Rhine River cruise with Grand Circle Cruises. They had been translated from German and French to English and some of the history and instructions were hard to decipher.
I cleaned them up as best I could…Bon Appetite!
Apple Beignets – A Bit of History
Beignets descend from ancient Roman fritters. Savory or sweet; basic or complicated, these tasty deep fried cake and pastry treats are a glorious part of French cuisine.
What exactly is a beignet? The French denoting a general class of small, light, batter-coated, deep-fried items equivalent to the English fritter. This meaning has been kept in the state of Louisiana, where French influence is strong, and the beignets are a specialty of New Orleans.
In the Netherlands, apple beignets are called “appelflappen.” The traditional Dutch way to serve these apple fritters is warm, with ground cinnamon and plenty of powdered sugar.
In Germany apple beignets are called “apfeltaschen.” traditionally served during winter festivities.
Beignets harks back to a non-Indo-European pre-Roman word like *bunnia, directly related to Gaelic “bun” and Catalan bony “bump on the head.” When beignet first shows up in 17th century French it meant “bump on the head” and also “tree stump.” The present meaning of beignets today in France is slap or clout or blow, in other words, what might cause a bump on the head.
English borrowed its word bun for a little form of leavened bread from a French dialectic offshoot of the same root, bugne, that denoted a slightly raised pancake.
But all the food references obviously began as a joke in which a bump of bread (a bun) was compared to a bump on the head.
Beignet is a Canadian French usage showing how ancient meaning of words can remain in a dialect while disappearing from a standard language. The word for doughnut today in France is a beignet. It also means fritter.
Beignets a la rapture are potato pancakes made by blending finely grated potatoes in an egg-and-flour batter, forming them into palm-sized pancakes, patting them thin, and frying until crispy brown.
Beignets Soufflés or Plain Fritters
In a 2-quart pan combine:
- 1/2 pint of water
- 1/4 lb. of butter
- 1/2 oz. of sugar
Boil; remove from heat and add 1/2 lb. of sifted flour; mix well and return to heat. Break in 3 eggs; each egg should be thoroughly mixed before another is added. The paste should be stiff enough not to spread out when dropped from the spoon. Roll the paste up into balls, about the size of a small walnut. Fry gently in hot oil (370°F) stirring with the skimmer. They are done when an even golden color, drain, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Sweet Beignets Soufflés en Surprise
Prepare the fritters as in the preceding recipe. After draining, cut a small incision on one side and fill them with either some reduced puree of fruit cooked with sugar or your favorite preserves.
Combine 1 lb flour, pinch of salt, a liquor glass of rum (I swear that is as precise as it needs to be), 3 egg yolks of three eggs (reserve the whites) and a quantity of warm water (again, not too precise) into a mixing dish and beat together until it no longer sticks to the dish. Add more flour if needed. Beat the egg whites until fluffy and mix into the dough. Allow dough to rise for an hour or so. Have a baking dish very hot and put in the paste in pieces the size of a walnut, they will triple in size while cooking. Place in hot oven (Temperature?) and bake to a golden color; remove from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot.
Puff Paste Fritters (Beignet soufflés dits pets de nonne)
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
Bring water, sugar, salt, lemon peel, and butter to a boil. Add flour and stir vigorously until all the flour is mixed in. Continue stirring this mixture over the heat until it is thick and dry, Remove from heat and add the unbeaten eggs, one at a time, stirring hard after each addition. The dough will become smooth and when it drops slowly from the spoon it is the right consistency. Drop teaspoons of the mixture into deep fat (370°F) and fry until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, Serve hot or cold; they are delicious tea cakes.
Beignets aux Pommes / Apple Fritters
For the apples:
- 5 medium apples
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
For the batter:
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 egg Whites
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 cup beer – you won’t taste it but it is essential
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- Peel and core the apples. Slice them into 1/2 inch rounds
- Lay them out on a plate, and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon on them
- Let sit, covered, for at least an hour
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and sugar
- Add the milk and melted butter, mix, and then add the beer
- Let this batter rest for about half an hour
- Just before you are ready to fry the apples, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and fold them into the batter
- Heat the oil (about 3 cups) and begin coating the apples with the batter.
- Thinly coat the apples and fry them until golden brown.
- Once the rounds are fried, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and dust over the tops, generously.
- Serve immediately, Bon Appetite!