A three generational road trip from California to Connecticut (to drop my granddaughter off at college) was full of adventures and lots of laughter. You’re invited to travel along as I share recipes inspired by my favorite memories.
The first day of our road trip was a long one, from Sacramento to Salt Lake City, where we had a wonderful dinner with my daughter’s old high school friend (hi, Angie!) and then fell into our hotel beds, exhausted. In the morning we were pressed for time, but had heard wonderful things about Pig & a Jelly Jar and just had to have breakfast there. It was a fun little place, and breakfast in the courtyard was lovely, but . . . we’d really been lusting after their warm beignets, and were sad to find out that there weren’t any prepared yet. We’d have had to wait 40 minutes, which would put us behind schedule.
We had a wonderful breakfast anyhow, and then got on the road, sans beignets. I was disappointed because I’d never tried one—had just heard about them from people who’d visited New Orleans. You know what’s coming, right?
Yeah. when I got home I made some. And then I made some more. There’s really nothing hard about it, if you don’t mind a mess. Between the hot oil and the powdered sugar, I had more cleaning than I was counting on, but still . . . it was worth it.
As a nod to Pig & a Jelly Jar, and inspired by a glazed doughnut breakfast sandwich I had in New Haven, Connecticut (I know, I’m state hopping here), I split a few of the beignets and added pork sausage lightly glazed with jelly. It should have been blueberry lavender jelly (which is what the restaurant serves with their beignets) but a quick check in the fridge assured me I was all out of blueberry lavender jelly, so I used raspberry. And I added a fried egg. Oh, yum!
Then, because I couldn’t resist, I made a maple beignet version with sausage, scrambled egg, and maple-glazed bacon. This was, of course, my favorite.
I’m going to be honest here: since I’ve never eaten a beignet outside my own kitchen, I don’t really know how mine compare. What I do know is, they are pillowy and sugary, and delicious. And since I was worried because my beignets had big air pockets in them, I Googled the “problem” and found out that air pockets are desirable. Sweet!
I also discovered that I prefer little bite-size beignets. They fry a bit faster and seemed lighter. And you can fool yourself into thinking you’ll just have a few. (Don’t count on it!) So if you aren’t planning on making breakfast sandwiches, I would definitely recommend keeping the squares two inches or smaller.
Note: Beignets aren’t supposed to be a sweet dough (like a doughnut), which is why you drench them in powdered sugar. For my maple version I used dark (bold grade) pure maple syrup as the sweetener, and it worked great. However, even with the flavorful bold syrup, the maple flavor will be very subtle. I am not a fan of subtle maple flavor, so I added a teaspoon of my beloved Mapleine flavoring, which gave the dough a little boost. Next time, I’ll double the amount.
|Maple Beignet Breakfast Sandwiches
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 5 ounces evaporated milk (small can)
- 1 cup warm water (110 - 115 degrees)
- 1 package active-dry yeast
- 2 eggs
- 1-2 teaspoons maple flavoring
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- 5½ cups bread flour
- Light flavored oil, enough to have at least 2 inches in a heavy pot
- SANDWICH FILLINGS:
- Per sandwich: 2 slices bacon, 1 sausage patty, 1 egg, fried or scrambled
- Maple syrup for glazing meat, OR
- JELLY GLAZE:
- 2 tablespoons jelly
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 teaspoon butter
- In a medium saucepan on med-high heat, bring maple syrup to a full boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and evaporated milk. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and mixture is lukewarm.
- In a large bowl (a stand mixer with dough hook is recommended) combine warm water and yeast. Allow mixture to sit 5-10 minutes, to soften the yeast.
- Add warm syrup mixture and eggs to the yeast mixture, mix until combined.
- Add salt. Gradually add flour until dough comes cleanly away from the side of the bowl. Continue to knead by machine for 4 minutes, or by hand on floured surface for 6 minutes.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise. This is a rich dough, and may take up to 1½ hours..
- On a generously floured surface, roll dough out into a square, approximately 14x14 inches. Try to keep it an even thickness. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to trim off uneven edges. Use a ruler to mark off squares (between 3 and 3½ inches). If making beignet bites, these can be cut in quarters. Let them sit and rest while you prepare the oil.
- Pour oil into a deep, heavy pot over medium heat until oil reaches 360 F. You'll need to keep a close eye on the heat as you cook; it will fluctuate. A good thermometer is really important.
- While oil is heating, cover a large cooling rack with paper towels.
- Use a thin spatula to drop several squares of dough into the hot oil, being careful to leave enough room for the dough to move around freely. If you make large beignets, you may only be able to fry two at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Allow the dough to reach a warm brown color (about 1 minute) before flipping over. Once both sides are cooked, use a slotted spoon or kitchen spider to move the beignets to the prepared cooling rack.
- Once all of the beignets are done, sift powdered sugar over both sides. You can give them a second coating in a paper bag with more powdered sugar, if you'd like.
- Eat warm!! These can be frozen and reheated, but they're really best if eaten right away.
- SANDWICH FILLINGS:
- To glaze bacon or sausage with maple, simply pour a few tablespoons of syrup in a non-stick fry pan over medium heat. Once bubbly, add the meat, flipping several times until syrup turns thick and sticks well.
- For the jelly glaze, mix the jelly, water, and butter in a non-stick frypan over medium heat. Stir until hot and bubbly. Add meat, flipping several times, until glaze turns thick and sticks to the meat.
- Layer meats and egg in each split beignet.
And onward! Are you ready for a ball game?
Soon . . .