yeast raised beignets

lately, i have had doughnuts on the brain, a truly terrible case of doughnut obsession. i have wondered, for a while, if a gluten free fried yeast dough could possibly work. good news! it can! i fiddled and fiddled with proportions, flour blends, types of milk, amounts of yeast and came to the conclusion that full sized doughnuts were not going to end up with a taste and texture worth all the trouble. i wanted something not too heavy but with a crunch and good chew and not overly sweet. doughnut holes immediately came to mind, but then i thought, i really want something that feels more exotic.

et voila, beignets!

Gluten Free Yeast Raised Beignets

½ cup (4 ounces) lukewarm half & half
1/8 cup (7/8 ounce) sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
256g (2 cups) Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour blend

Combine the half & half, yeast and sugar in your mixer bowl and let sit 15 minutes. Once the mixture has proofed add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, and mix and knead them together—by hand, mixer or bread machine—till you have a soft, smooth dough. Set the dough aside to rise, covered, for 2 to 4 hours, or until it’s a bit puffy (it will probably not double in bulk). You can make the beignets right away, or place the dough in a covered buttered bowl or buttered plastic bag, leaving room for the dough to expand. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 2 days.

Remove the dough from the bowl/refrigerator, and place it on a lightly greased or floured work surface; a Silpat works well for this. Do not flatten the dough, but instead start to cut 1.5 to 2 inch chunks of dough with a sharp knife. No need to be fussy or exact, rustic looking is fine.

Add a vegetable, peanut, or canola oil to a depth of at least ¾” in a 10″ cast iron fry pan or a deep, heavy-bottomed stainless steel or copper 10″ fry pan set over a burner, a windsor type pan would work, as well. Heat the oil to 360°F, and drop 5 or 6 chunks of dough into the hot oil. They will sink, then quickly float to the top. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the beignets for 1 minute, then use a pair of tongs or chopsticks to turn them. Fry for another minute, until golden brown, remove them from the pan quickly or they will burn and drain them on paper towels.

When the beignets have cooled slightly, dust them with confectioners’ sugar. For a fast dipping sauce, make a chocolate ganache and add a little butter to keep it loose enough for dipping. Enjoy!
Yield: about 15 beignets.