3 to 3 1/2 cups soft, southern wheat flour * or all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
* This flour has a gluten content of about 8 percent.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine water, 2 teaspoons sugar and
evaporated milk; heat to 110 degrees F. Pour into a 2-cup glass measuring cup.
Stir in yeast. Let stand until foamy — 5 to 10 minutes.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine 3 cups of flour
and all remaining ingredients except oil and confectioners' sugar. Turn on and
off 3 or 4 times to blend ingredients. Add yeast mixture. Turn on and off 4
or 5 times to bring dough together. Check consistency of dough. It should be
fairly smooth and non-sticky. If additional flour is needed, add 1 to 2 tablespoons
at a time; process just until blended. Process 15 seconds to knead dough. Turn
out dough on a lightly floured surface; form into a smooth ball.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in oiled bowl, turning to coat all
sides. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled
in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough
into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Working at a diagonal to rectangle, with
a sharp knife, cut dough into 2-inch wide strips, moving from left to right.
Starting at top left and moving toward bottom of rectangle, cut dough diagonally
into 2-inch wide strips to form diamond shapes. Carefully place all completed
diamonds 1/2 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic
wrap. Gather up remaining dough scraps; knead together. Cover loosely with plastic
Roll out and cut as before. Repeat until all dough has been used. Cover
beignets loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm, draft-free place until
almost doubled in bulk, 45 minutes.
In a large saucepan, heat 3 inches oil to 365 degrees F or until a 1-inch
bread cube turns golden brown in 60 seconds.
Carefully slide beignets into hot oil, 3 or 4 at a time; do not crowd. Fry
until puffy and golden brown on both sides, turning once with tongs. Cooking
time is about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
Sift confectioners' sugar over hot beignets; serve hot.