French Market Beignets Recipe

1 envelope active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted shortening
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Oil for frying
Confectioners' sugar

In a small warm bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Add a pinch of the sugar. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until a bit foamy and creamy.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining sugar, salt, nutmeg, egg, milk, oil and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Add the yeast mixture. Beat for 2 minutes. Add an additional 1 1/2 cups of the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. If the dough seems too sticky, add an additional 1/4 cup flour, reserving the other 1/4 cup for flouring the board.

(Options: Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm (75- to 80-degree) place until doubled in bulk. Or divide the dough in half, allow one part to rise at room temperature as described and refrigerate the other half to rise slowly and make fresh beignets in another day or so. Punch it down from time to time. Fry within 2 days.)

Punch down the dough and knead on a floured surface 4 or 5 times to remove air bubbles. Divide in half. Roll one half of the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 15 inches and 1/8 inch thick. With a sharp knife, trim the edges. Making 5 slices one way and 4 the other way, cut the dough into 20 roughly 2-by-2-inch rectangles. While the oil heats, allow the squares to rise for about 20 minutes.

Add oil to a wok, heavy skillet or deep fryer to a depth of about 1 1/2 inches. Heat to 365 degrees. Fry 2 or 3 beignets at a time until beignets puff and turn golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Shower with confectioners' sugar from a sieve, or drop beignets into a paper bag one-third filled with confectioners' sugar and shake until coated. Serve hot. Makes about 40.