Light, sweet and airy beignets showered in powdered sugar are the iconic treat of New Orleans. Much like a doughnut, beignets are pockets of deep-fried sweetened dough, with a snowy topping of powdered sugar, which you and the kids will get all over your faces as you take big bites! When I saw the beignets Tiana baked and served in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, I couldn’t rest until I had made them myself.
There are some movies I have seen which make me hungry! There’s Chef where Jon Favreau sets up a food truck, and there is so much molten cheese in this movie I almost had a heart attack just watching it. Then there’s Ratatouille and Chocolat, both of which celebrate the French joie de vivre of food and cooking, and of course, there’s The Princess and the Frog.
The Princess and the Frog takes place in New Orleans in the 1920s, and the main character Tiana is an aspiring chef. She rustles up a banquet of sugar-dusted beignets for a party and just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Beignets are such a celebrated and beloved taste of New Orleans’ food culture, and I was dying to try them, so after a lot of experimenting here is my quick recipe for Tiana’s beignets without yeast from The Princess and the Frog!
The classic beignets of New Orleans originate from Creole cooking, a food culture that greatly inspires the cuisine of the city. Beignets come from French cookery, however, French beignets are slightly different as they are made with choux pastry, much like profiteroles and eclairs.
WHAT ARE BEIGNETS?
Beignets of New Orleans are different because they are like fluffy doughnuts, and are traditionally rectangular in shape and hidden under a thick dusting of powdered sugar. These little golden treats are iconic throughout U.S. food history, and are a must-have treat for visitors to try in New Orleans.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BEIGNET AND A DOUGHNUT?
Both are sweet doughs, deep-fried until golden, so what is the difference?
- Size and shape: A New Orleans beignet will be rectangular while a doughnut will be a ring, or a fat circle and full of jelly.
- Weight: The slightly different quantities of ingredients mean that beignets are lighter and airier than doughnuts, and they will usually have a pocket of air inside. Doughnuts are much denser and chewier, like a bread.
- Toppings and glazes: Doughnuts often contain thick creamy or jammy fillings, or are dripping in icing or sprinkles. Beignets on the other hand will only be served with a dusting of powdered sugar and maybe a drizzle of honey.
Other than that, there is very little difference between a beignet and a doughnut! Plus, they are both delicious, so I would be happy with either!
CAN I MAKE BEIGNETS WITH OR WITHOUT YEAST?
Yes, you can make both! This recipe is for beignets without yeast, so in a similar style to the traditional beignets of France. Here are some benefits for baking without yeast:
Beignets without yeast:
- My recipe for no-yeast beignets instead uses baking powder and baking soda for the puffy golden snacks to rise, so if you have an intolerance to yeast, or you just don’t have any in stock and you don’t want to run to the store, then this recipe is a great solution!
- These beignets take considerably less time to make. Baking with yeast requires you rest the dough in a warm place to prove, in which the yeast develops and the dough rises. This can take from between 1 hour to 24 hours, so if you want beignets NOW then definitely use my beignet recipe without yeast!
- The beignets are more like a cake rather than a bread. Yeast is a key ingredient in bread baking, with a distinctive flavor and aroma, and it makes bread rise in the oven. A difference between cake and bread doughs is the different raising agents. Cake uses baking powder and baking soda, which are the raising agents in my yeast-free beignets.
Beignets with yeast and beignets without yeast are equally delicious so you won’t go wrong no matter which you try first! Check out my recipe for beignets with yeast, and see which beignets you prefer!
Tiana’s beignets look so delicious, and now finally I can sit and watch the movie with a beignet in my hand! Enjoy making them with my recipe for Tiana’s beignets from The Princess and the Frog!
BEIGNETS PRINCESS AND THE FROG( NO YEAST)
- 2 ¾ cup All-Purpose Flour plus more for dusting
- ⅓ cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 cup Buttermilk or Whole Milk
- 1 Large Egg lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Vegetable Oil or Peanut Oil, for frying
- Honey for drizzling (optional)
- Powdered Sugar for dusting
- In a large pot or deep Dutch oven, add enough frying oil to reach about 2 inches up the sides. Place over low heat until the oil reaches 325˚F on a deep-fry or instant-read thermometer. Keep your eye on it while the oil heats, and prepare the dough.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon, and whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, water, egg, and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula after each addition. Once all of the wet ingredients are added, mix until a smooth dough forms.
- Dust a clean work surface with a small amount of flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the flour, and knead for about 30 seconds, until it is smooth and elastic. If needed, add small amounts of flour to prevent sticking, but be careful not to add too much.
- Dust the work surface with more flour if needed, and gently pat and press the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick. Carefully cut the dough into 12-15 rectangles, depending on the desired size.
- Check to make sure the frying oil has reached the proper temperature. Carefully add 3-4 beignets to the oil and fry for about 3 minutes. Flip the beignets over, and fry for an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown and nicely puffed. Use a kitchen spider or slotted spoon to transfer the cooked beignets to a baking sheet or large plate that has been covered with paper towels to drain any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining beignets, making sure to occasionally check the oil temperature.
- Once all beignets have been fried and drained, transfer them to a serving plate or platter. Drizzle with the honey and dust liberally with the powdered sugar. Serve immediately.