This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Baking Chez Moi was one I’d not really been looking forward to, to be honest. Deep fried dough, to put it plainly. I certainly don’t have a deep-fryer at home and I’m not really a fan of doughnuts or churros (which is what this recipe is). This is fried choux pastry dough. Now, I love me some good choux but fried? I can see the attraction but it’s just not for me.
The story about these beignets revolves around a young nun named Agnès and an abbess who, sometime in the eighteenth century, were preparing a feast for the archbishop. Agnès was fiddling with a piece of cream puff dough and listening to the older nun’s instructions, when suddenly, a rat-a-tat was heard from beneath her robes. The nonnette was embarrassed to the point of trembling, and her hands shook so forcefully that the lump of dough she’d been holding fell into a cauldron of boiling oil, where it puffed and browned and turned into a golden ball. When the nuns tasted it, they called it a wonder and christened the beignets pets de nonne, translated so indelicately as “nun’s farts.”
Whatever you call them, they’re wonderfully crisp on the outside and soft and eggy on the inside. They’re the kind of sweet that draws people into the kitchen as you’re making them, the kind that never lasts long enough to make it to a platter.
Ok so this may well be the case (about how delectable they are!) but still, I wasn’t going to fry these. Fortunately for me, I’d watched 17 nine year-olds recently make choux pastry very successfully. We had three groups – one group piped the puffs, one group used small spoons to scoop the pastry out and one group… rolled the pastry in their hands like Play Doh! Seriously – I had my back turned for one minute and they got to work, extremely proud of their perfectly round puffs.
Into the oven they went and I explained that they might not be as light and fluffy as the other batches because choux pastry is fussy. Well blow me down with a feather if their choux weren’t PERFECT. Perfectly round. Perfectly light and perfectly hollow on the inside. Taught me that choux pastry is much more sturdy than we give it credit for.
So when it came to making these, I simply scooped them out (I used a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop, slightly too large in my opinion), tossed them in cinnamon sugar, rolled them around a bit and squished the sugar into the pastry and baked them as usual.
Not quite the same eggy soft centre but hey, these worked! No mess, no oil, no fuss. I only made a 1/2 batch and gave most of them away to my neighbours. But since I *had* to bite into one to check the insides, I ended up eating one. Ok, two. They were REALLY good. Note to self: experiment with this…
Get the recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Nun’s Beignets here or on p 240 of Baking Chez Moi.
Tuesdays with Dorie participants don’t publish the recipes on our blogs, so you’re encouraged to purchase Baking Chez Moi for yourself which you can do on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store in your country) or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository. Then join us, baking our way through the book!
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