Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Scones

hello+lovely+apartment099kIn the last post, we talked about how to make the perfect biscuits…

Now let’s learn how to make the biscuit’s closest kid—the scone—anotherf quick bread that is made using very similar ingredients and techniques.

The perect scones are moist, light, tall and fluffy…slightly crispy on the outside…puffy and tender on the inside…with just the right amount of sweetness…served with jam, clotted cream, butter, or simply eaten plain. the perfect treat for breakfast or afternoon tea.

That is, assuming you’re an American.

 

True British scones are actually drier and more crumbly.

The “original” scones, called “bannocks,” were actually large round breads that were  made simply of oat or barley flour and water…and then dry-fried on a griddle before being cut apart into wedge shapes.

 

 

When it comes to making the perfect scones, you have to have quality ingredients and know the correct method of making them instead of just slopping all the ingredients together and hoping that they come out fit to eat.

By now, whenever you read a recipe for a bread that uses baking soda or baking powder…instead of yeast…to make the bread rise, you should see a pattern emerge.

This pattern of doing things is called the “quick bread method.”

 

 

Once you see just how easy it is to make scones yourself, they will no longer be a rarely eaten treat served only for special-day breakfasts and formal high-tea fare….scones that are just as good, if not better, than the ones that I fork over how much money at Starbucks every time that I splurge and buy myself coffee there.

So let’s get started.

 

 

 

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The Ingredients
  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 2C flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2C sugar
  • 1/2C butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1C heavy cream or buttermilk
  • 1tsp vanilla

 

 

The Baking Powder…If you forget the baking powder, your scones will not rise…go figure…

 

 

The Sugar…This may seem like a lot of sugar…feel free to experiment to find out if you still like the taste using less sugar…but remember that changing the amount of sugar that you use will chl

If you are making savory scones, reduce this amount to about 2Tbsp.

Brown sugar often makes certain flavors of scones taste even better, but if you are using brown sugar, you should whisk your wet ingredients until you  get out all the lumps of brown sugar…otherwise, guess what your scones will contain…

Lumps of brown sugar…obviously.

 

 

The Butter…Butter is responsible for the crisp edges, flakiness, flavor, and rise of your scones.

 

 

The Egg…Eggs add flavor, lift, and structure.

 

The Milk…The thicker this dairy ptoduct is, the more your scones will rise and the better they will taste. If you are looking for a “politically correct” form of milk, choose one from this previous post regarding milk options.

 

 

The Vanilla Extract… because all baked goods require vanilla, right?!

Wrong…Don’t use the vanilla if you are making savory scones…as opposed to sweet ones.

 

 

Optional Ingredients…The optional ingredients that yuu can incorporate into your batter change the taste of your scones and make them much more fun.

A few options include the following…

Chopped Nuts…Add these after cutting in the butter…but before adding the liquid.

  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios

Citrus Zest…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredient

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Orange

Extracts…Add one of the following into the liquid ingredients

  • Almond
  • Anise
  • Lemon
  • Mint

Fruit…Use either fresh or frozen fruit. If using frozen fruit, do not thaw the fruit out first. Peel fruits such as apples, peaches, or pears before chopping.

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Glaze or Frosting…Top your cooked, slightly cooled scones with one of the following…

  • Brown butter icing
  • Cream cheese frosting
  • Lemon curd
  • Lemon icing
  • Maple icing
  • Orange icing
  • Powdered sugar glaze
  • Raspberry icing
  • Salted caramel frosting

Herbs…Add one of the following into your dry ingredients…

  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Spices …Add 1/2 to 1tsp one of the following into your dry ingredients….

  • Allspice
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon,
  • Clove
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg

Other Ideas

  • Chocolate chips
  • Toasted coconut
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The Prep Work

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Adjust oven rack to center position.
Line two rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick vegetable oil spray or baking spray.
Set aside.

Stick your butter in the freezer.

 

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The Dry Ingredients

Whisk together your dry ingredients—the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder— in a large bowl.

…or simply pull out your KitchenAid to do this instead.

Actually we moved last month and I’ve had to hide the red KitchenAid that I love so much because there’s not enough space between the lower and upper kitchen cabinets for it to fit.

Regardless which method you are using, be sure to use a big enough bowl that will allow you lots of room to work in when combining your ingredients..

Add any herbs or spices that you have chosen at this point.

 

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 The Butter

Now it’s time to “cut in” the butter.

Cut your frozen butter into small pieces.

“Cutting” in your butter makes sure that your butter is evenly distributed throughout the dough. This will create little pockets of steam as the scones bakes, making them flakier.

If making your scones by hand, cut your cold butter into the dough with a pastry cutter or fork.

If using a mixer, mix on a medium-low speed for about thirty seconds.

Be careful not to over-mix.

Over-mixing will make your finished scones dense, instead of soft and crumbly….so work with the dough as little as possible.

You want the butter that you see in your dough at this point to be about the size of large peas.

If you are using any optional ingredients—other than herbs or spices which you should have already added to your dry ingredients by now—

 

 

 

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The Liquid Ingredients

Now lightly whisk together your liquid ingredients—the heavy cream, the egg, and any zests or extracts you may be using.

Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Mix just until liquid is absorbed.

At this point, your dough should be lumpy, with raggedy edges — not smooth at all.

You do not want to over-mix your dough…

Be very gentle with your dough…otherwise your scones will turn out crusty and chewy.

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Working with the Dough

 

Once you have finished making your dough, refrigerate for at least fifteen  minutes. This will keep your scones from spreading out too much wheever you bake them.

You could even refrigerate your dough overnight at this point and finish making them for breakfast the following morning.

Your goal is to Keep your dough as cold as possible.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top or marble pastry board. Using a marble pastry board will help keep the dough cool.

Divide the dough in half.

Sprinkle a pinch of flour on top of each half.

Fold the dough in half.

Turn it 90 degrees. Pat out.

Repeat this folding process five more times….being very gentle with the dough when you are doing this.

Shape each portion into a 6″ circle…about 1″ thick. Use your hands to do this, not a rolling pin.

Cut each circle into six even wedges, using a pizza cutter…making sure that you cut the wedges apart completely.

You could also use your biscuit cutter and cut out circles of dough. If you use a biscuit cutter, remember to push your biscuit cutter straight down instead of twisting it. Otherwise your biscuits and scone won’t rise as tall

If your dough seems too sticky, add a little more flour…but be careful not to add too much excess flour because this will make the scones drier.

If your dough seems too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream.

Lift the wedges, one at a time, with either a pie server or a spatula.

Place the wedges about 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheet,

Brush the top of each scone with heavy cream or buttermilk. Doing this will give your scones more of a golden brown, extra crispy, and crumbly exterior.

You could also sprinkle some sugar on top to add even more crunch.

 

 

 

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Baking Your Scones

Bake the scones at for about fifteen to twenty minutes,,,until they have about tripled in height…and are  golden brown on the tops and bottoms.

If your scones seem to be browning too fast as they bake, then tent them with aluminum foil.

After this amount of time, stick a toothpick into the center of a scone to see if they’re done. If the toothpick emerges clean, or with a very few moist crumbs, they’re ready. If the toothpick emerges with anything on it, other than perhaps a few crumbs, then let them bake a bit longer.

Remove the baked scones from the oven,

Let cool for a couple of minutes before topping them with any frosting or glaze.

Scones are best served warm, or within a few hours of baking.

If your scones seem to be spreading out too much as they bake, remove them from the oven and press them back into their original shape using a rubber spatula.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Waffles

Now that we’ve learned how to make the perfect pancakes, let’s move on to making the pancake’s kissing cousin…the waffle…

You might think to yourself, we just learned how to make the perfect pancake batter…can’t I simply use the same recipe to now make waffles…

 

 

Actually…

No!!!

 

Waffle batter and pancake batter may seem very similar….you really can’t use your pancake recipe and expect great waffles.

 

 

 

Why? 

Pancake recipes are created to make flat things without a crispy exterior…

 

 

 

But before we learn HOW to make the perfect waffles, let’s talk about what the perfect waffles would be like.

The perfect waffles are buttery, sweet, and thick…with a perfectly crisp extterior……with a light and fluffy interior…and  topped with the perfect amount of butter, syrup, and whatever else you wanna put on them.

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The Ingredients

  • 1Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2gsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2C buttermilk
  • 1/4C butter
  • 1tsp vanilla or 1Tbsp amaretto
  • 1/3C vegetable oil
  • 1/2C cornstarch
  • 1-1/2C flour
  • 3/4C sugar

 

 

 

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The Waffle Iron

If yuu’re gonna make good waffles, you really should have a good waffle iron, such as this KitchenAid Waffle Baker 

So go ahead and buy one that cooks waffles evenly if your waffle iron has become crabby and temperamental.

If you are shopping for a waffle iron, things to consider include…

  • cool-touch handles...waffle irons with plastic handle heat up less than models with chrome or stainless-steel handles
  • fllip style…using a waffle iton that you can flip pver after pouring in the batter will allow the batter to spread out evenly and also make sure that the waffle cooks evenly on both sides.
  • size…think about how much space you have to store the waffle maker when you aren’t using it.
  • temperature control...adjustable thermostats allow you to control the cooking temperature so that you can make both soft, light-colored waffles…as well as crispy, dark-colored waffles.

Now that you have bought…or found…your waffle iron it is important to read…or have read…the instruction manual because different waffle makers will cook differently.

 

 

 

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Preheat Your Waffle Iron

Preheating your waffle iron before adding any batter to the waffle iron is very important for two reasons….prevents soggy waffles…and makes the batter turn crispy as soon as it hits the surface.

 

 

 

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The “Dry” Ingredients

Place flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, Whisk to combine. Set aside.

(Yes…I do realize that sugar is a dry ingredient, but add it later…you will soon see why.

 

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The $ggs

First separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. This will give them a crispier exterior….as well as make the interior of the waffle more fluffy. and light, instead of heavy and dense.

Now add your sugar,

Whip your egg whites to the soft-peak stage., meaning until stiff peaks form….you should be able to lift the beaters straight out of the egg whites and invert the beaters, and find that the egg white stand up on their own.

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The “Wet” Ingredients

Whisk together your egg yolks, milk, melted butter, and vanilla In a medium-sized mixing bowl.

 

The Buttermilk…If you do not have buttermilk in your fridge…and are too lazy to go to Walmart of somewhere and go get some, combine a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar with  to a cup of milk.

Some people recommend that you use a combination of buttermilk and regular milk because this makes your batter even thinner…personally I like the extra buttermilk flavor.

 

 

 

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Batter Up

At this point, you should have three bowls of “stuff”===your dry ingredients, your wet ingredients, and your beaten egg whites.

So now let’s combine all three of these mixtures so that we can get on with out waffle making.

 

 

When stirring together your ingredients, it important that you never overmix your batter.

You want your batter to be smooth enough that it flows freely through the dimples of the waffle plate..yet not over-mixed to the point where the flour turns into gluten… making your pancakes chewier, instead of fluffy.

So at this stage, a gentle hand and patience and very important..

 

 

Anyway…how do we do this?

  1. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, using a rubber spatula and a gentle motion.
  2. Mix together until smooth.
  3. Now scoop the beaten egg whites into the batter, just until combined. It is important that you do this very gently..
  4. Fold the egg whites gently into the batter….being careful not to deflate them..
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Cooking the Pancakes

Scoop 1/2C batter into the center of your waffle iron,

Close the lid.

Let cook until the indicator light or beeping mechanism does its thing. Do not lift the lid too soon.  Lifting the lid too soon could mean that half of your waffle ends up on the top of the waffle iron…while the other stays on the bottom..

Remove hot waffles from the waffle iron.  

The that waffle that you make is probably not going to turn out perfectly. If so, you may need to adjust the amount of batter or color control settings until you get the results you

Respray the waffle pan after each waffle.

Continue cooking waffles until all batter is used,.

 

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Keeping Your Waffles Warm

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Place the cooked waffles directly on the oven rack while finishing cooking the rest of the waffles.

Not only will this keep the waffles warm as you are cooking, but doing this will also make your waffles crispier by allowing the steam to escape and will allow everyone to eat at the same time instead of staggeredly, as each individual waffle finishes cooking.

Just make sure the waffles do not burn…five minutes is about the maximum amount of time they can sray in your oven without burning.

And do not stack the waffles…otherwise, they will turn moist and limp.

 

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Storing

Place any leftover pancakes in a freezer bag once they cool down. Place wax paper between multiple waffles. Squeeze as much air from the bag as possible.

 

 

 

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Reheating

Set out however many waffles you need on the counter for ten minutes…while you preheat the oven to 300 degrees .

 

Clean your waffle iron shortly after each use. This will make cleaning the waffle iron so much easier than if you wait and clean it much later after 

Use a plastic or rubber utensil to remove waffles from the waffle iron. Using a metal fork or knife could eventually damage the sufaces of your waffle iron.

 

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Copycat Bisquick Baking Mix

If there is one thing that I hate as far as grocery shopping, it would be spending extra money on products that I could already have made with the ingrefdients that I already had in my house—such as Bisquick and many spice blends.

 

There are a ton of recipes out there that require this Bisquick or Jiffy Baking Mix, but I am slowly becoming a minimalist…and that’s just one more thing that I will have to buy at the grocery store nnd store in my pantry.

And making your own  baking mix means one less processed food with  chemical stabilizers added so that the products stays safe while being stored in your pantry for who knows how long.

 

 

The perfect copycat Bisquick mix is simple to make…and in fact only contains four ingredient s….and actually comes together in less than five minutes….and is the perfect shortcut for making such awesome breakfasts as pancakes, biscuits, and so forth….and will stay good for up to three months as long as you refrigerate it.

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The Ingredients

  • 6C flour
  • 3Tbesp baking powder
  • 2tsp salt
  • 1C vegetable shortening

 

 

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The Process

Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until combined. The mixture should resemble fine crumbs and no large pieces of shortening should remain.Bits of shortening should still be visible within the baking mix…but should be about the size of a pea.

Store in a a covered glass or plastic container in the refrigerator for up to three months.

 

 

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Uses

For ideas on how to use your homemade copycat Bisquick  baking mix, check out the following websites…

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Muffins

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease your muffin pan.
Stir together the dry ingredients.
Stir together the wet ingredients.
Make a well in the dry ingredients.
Add the wet ingrefients to the dry.
Stir all the ingrdients together.

Fill the muffin liners 3/4 of the way up.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Quick Bread—(Any Flavor You Can Imagine)

To freeze...Wrap in plastic and aluminum foil..can be frozen for up to three months.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

I Don’t Even Know How to Boil Water

You probably alreadty know how to do this cooking method called boiling…most of us have been boiling stuff since we were making our own macaroni and cheese out of a box when we were teenagers…assuming that you were borb before they started making macaroni and cheese is single-serving microwavable cups.

Yet boiling is a cooking method…and our goal at this point is to learn about all of the most commonly used cooking methods…

So let’s talk about boiling for a while.

 

 

 

What is boiling?

Boiling is a moist-heat cooking method that involves immersing food in a liquid that has been heated to 212 degrees F. This hot liquid then transmits its heat to the food being cooked.

This temperature is called the boiling point…the point where the pressure of the liquid equals the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding atmosphere.

As liquids boil, you will see bubbles forming and then exploding on the surface of the liquid.  These bubbles are caused by water vapor rushing to the surface.

The food that you boil should be sturdy enough to withstand the aggressive water without being damaged…because the rough agitation of the water can actually damage the food.

 

Commonly  boiled ingredients include pasta, grains, green vegetables. dried pasta, dried legumes, rice, noodles, potatoes, and eggs.

 

How long you boil the ingredient depends on several facttos—such as what the ingredient is, your personal preference,  how you were brought up….(for example, back in Mississippi we cook our peas along with some bacon practially all day before serving)…how important maintaining the food’s original color, texture, and flavor…whether or not you care if you deplete the nutrients of the ingredient…and so forth…

Ingredients an either be added to cold water and heated along with the water…ior added to the water once the water has already started boilling…depending on the characteristics, of what it is that you are cooking…(more on this later)…

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Let’s All Get Boiling Mad Together

Yeah, I know…I said that we would crawl our way up the Raw Foods Pyramid one food at a time…one tier at a time…

But…

My family will never be content to eat nutritional yeast and raw sweet potatoes for the rest of their lives.

So instead I have been getting acquainted with all the different cooking methods…what foods work best for which technique…how to use each method in creating not only meals that are healthier, but also more delicious.

I began looking at these different cooking methods by starting with what I thought were “moist cooking methods”…specifially sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Let’s consider a few characteristics that make certain cooking methods “moist” cooking methods…

  • 1. Moist-heat cooking methods involve cooking food with, or in, some type of liquid—such as steam, water, stock, or wine. Lately I have learned that many people do not consider these three methods to be “moist” cooking methods because…but, hey, we’ve already talked about it…so let’s move on and not join in on that debate.
  • 2. Moist-heat cooking methods involve using lower temperatures—ranging from 140°F to 212°F—(yeah, I know, we just talked about frying foods at 300-ish degrees…just go with it)…
  • 3. Moist-heat cooking methods soften tough fibers—such as meat protein or plant cellulose….which can be good or bad depending on the food that you are figuring out what to do with.
  • 4. Moist-heat cooking methods are typically simple and economical.
  • 5. Moist-heat cooking methods are more likely to preserve and maintain the water-soluble vitamins and other nutrients of the food, taking advantage of that food’s nutritional potential.
  • 6. Moist-heat cooking methods preserve and even add moisture to the food as it is cooking…important for cooking foods that need softening—such as hard vegetables, tough meat or dry grains and beans….
  • 7. Moist-heat cooking methods bring out more of the natural flavor in the food.

We have already looked at sauteeing, pan frying, and deep frying.

Some more common moist-heat cooking methods are…

  • boiling
  • braising
  • poaching
  • simmering
  • steaming
  • stewing

So let’s get boiling mad together in these next few posts, okay?!

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Facts to Never Forget about Frying Foods

For years I have honestly been afraid to deep fry. Seemed liike every single time I tried to fry something, I end up getting splashed with hot grease and my hysband ends up finishing the job.

I laugh and say that he cookes on top of the stove, and I cook in the oven.

But lately I have been practicing the art of deep frying, and actually enjoy it…especially considering that deep frying gives you such good, but bad for you, foods as onion rings and French fries.

1.Choose the Right Oil…It is important that you choose an oil that has a smoke point higher than the recommended frying temperature…such as canola, peanut, and soybean oil. As far as the amount of oil that you need, you will typically need one or two quarts.

2. Clear the area around your workspace….and create an assembly line…arranging things.in the following order from left to right……

  • Food to be fried
  • Batter
  • Stove with pot of hot oil
  • Wire rack with paper towels underneath to put the food on after it’s cooked.

3. Clean the Oil While Cooking...Keep the oil clean while frying by removing any breading or coating that is simply floating in the oil after taking out each batch. by using a fine mesh stainless steel strainer or spider to remove this debris…Otherwise, these will burn and make your food taste burnt.

4. Cook at a High Temperature…Your oil should be somewhere around 375 degrees before adding your food…otherwise you’ll probably end up with food that has an overcooked exterior and an under-cooked exterior…food that is heavy and  greasy, not crisp and light.

It is best to use a candy thermometer to check the temp of the oil before adding your food.

Believe it or not, it will also take more time to cook your food to cook.

Your ultimate goal is to have the hot oil instantly seal the outside and cook the inside without burning the surface.

5. Cook your food in small batches…Don’t overcrowd the pan. Make sure to let the oil rise to temperature again right after removing the first batch and adding the next batch because this will lower the temperature of the oil quickly..

Your temperature needs to be somewhere between 325 to 375°F before adding in your first batch of food…because your food is always colder than the oil

The temperature of the oil is probably the most important factor in determining how crispy the crust ends up being.

6. Cool Your Food After Cooking…Draining your food on a cooling rack will allow you to quickly absorb any extra oil from the surface. Otherwise your food will not have as much of a crunchy exterior.

Carefully Lower your food into the oil so that you don’t get splashed with hot oil. 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Beignets

My husband and I were stationed about ten years ago at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This was interesting. Being from Mississippi, you would think that I would be right at home in the Deep South…

But…

 

Louisiana is a whole different world…

And Louisiana has some of the best food in the country…

Especially the beignets…

 

 

 

Beignets, the official state doughnut of Louisiana since 1986, have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine ever since being brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists.

These “fritters”are made from deep-fried choux pastry are traditionally prepared right before consumption, doused in powdered sugar, and eaten fresh and hot.

Today beignets from the Café du Monde, along with their coffee with chicory and café au lait, are quite famous…

So here’s a recipe for making the perfect beignets…

 

 

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The Ingredients

  • .1-1/2C lukewarm water
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 2 egg, s,slightly beaten
  • 1-1/4tsp salt
  • 1C evaporated milk
  • 7Clour
  • 1/4C shortening
  • Nonstick spray
  • Oil, for deep-frying
  • 3C powdered sugar

 

 

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The Dough

Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Beat eggs, salt and evaporated milk together.

Mix egg mixture to the yeast mixture.

Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture.

Add the shortening.

Continue to stir while adding the remaining flour.

Remove dough from the bowl.

Place onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead until smooth.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray.

Put dough into the bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap or a towel.

Let rise in a warm place for at least two hours.

 

 

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Frying 

Preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees

Add the confectioners’ sugar to a paper or plastic bag and set aside.

Roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness.

Cut into 1″ squares.

Deep-fry, flipping constantly, until they become a golden color.

Drain your beignets as they finish cooking.them for a few seconds on paper towels,

Toss them into the bag of confectioners’ sugar….then holding the bag closed and shakong to coat evenly.