Beignets - Technical Questions inside
Hi Everyone - First post here; so go easy on me!
Long story short; In the past few weeks my attentions have been turned to nailing down my Beignet recipe with a view to selling commercially; however nothing I do can quite get me to the same gnarly, shattering and crisp exterior, with delicate, light and soft pillowy interior that I've had the pleasure of eating at Cafe du Monde over the years.
On Monday I spent a morning in development kitchen with a former head baker and pastry chef working on the recipe, however, despite how much we tried we were still just a few clicks of getting there
The recipe we've had most success with is at the bottom of this post - but its still not right. The issues I have with it are pretty simple...
-Too uniform, the exterior has none of the little crackley gnarly parts on the outside that add texture. CDM's beignets look almost like fried fish!
- Exterior browns very quickly, however, a good crust doesnt develop -the outside to the CDM recipe almost has a hard shell, which cracks and shatters. The recipe below however, have a softer crust, which is definitely a lot thinner - thus, within a few minutes they get much softer.
- They get too poofy - the inside seems to puff so quickly in the direct heat of the oil, that any personality gets a bit lost - unless they're rolled very thin.
My general thoughts on it are as follows -
First, I'm almost positive that CDM use a mix of flours - some regular wheat but then possibly a mixture of refined rye and barley flours. My understanding is that these two flours have a much lowever gluten content than wheat - however, I'm not sure what effect this would have on the dough - do you think it would hold much bearing perhaps on the outer structure of the Beignet and affect the gnarly-ness? I did a test using some whole barley (its super hard to find the refined stuff here) but it just gave it a more whole-meal consistency.
Second, I'm not sure that the three ratios (BP, BS and Yeast) are quite right. My understanding is the yeast is good at developing the soft doughy interior, but it sounds to me that i might be better using more baking soda to see if that creates a less uniform exterior?
Third - From watching a few videos of CDM's process, they're very liberal with flour on the Beignets before frying - is there anything in the idea that dousing so much flour over the rolled dough might effectively 'wick' away moisture from the exterior of the dough, thus creating a better crust (almost like a wet vs dry steak?).
Finally - Do you think adding more sugar might have the desired effect of creating a crispier exterior? In my head this makes sense as it would caramelise and shatter more - however, my brain isnt wired to work out whether this is reality or nonsense! Also, having tried CDM's box mix, which seems to get gnarly pretty easily, the mix is distinctly savory; almost salty.
Any thoughts from you guys would be most appreciated!
Anyway - sorry to bombard you with questions, just thought you'd be the best man to ask about this kind of thing! Any articles you could link me to that you've covered this in would be great; or any advice you could give!
CDM Beignet - Exterior - https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7208/6806200886_0f3c1a1c96_z.jpg
CDM Beignet - Interior - http://premeditatedgluttony.com/en-ca/wp-content/uploads/cafe_du_monde-beignet_bite.jpg
310g AP Flour
5g Baking Powder
1g Baking Soda
15g Sugar (white)
7g Dried Yeast
1 x Egg
2ml Vanilla Extract
40g Warm Water
In a small bowl add yeast, sugar and warm water. Whisk to combine and leave to activate. In seperate bowl combine the all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
When yeast frothy, whisk egg, buttermilk and vanilla together with yeast mixture.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and stir until the flour is incorporated, transfer to floured surface and knead til dough formed. Rest for 2hrs.
After doubled in size, punch down dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface, roll out dough the thickness of two quarters, and douse liberally in more flour. Cut into Squares, fry at 190c (375f) until golden brown.