The infamous photo of le donut.

30Sep07

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Food: Beignets (pronounced ben-yay)
A beignet is a french doughnut, a fried pastry or dough that can either be savory OR sweet, whereas I believe an American doughnut by definition is sweet. Generally they are served hot and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

While working at the W Hotel, one of the many recipes I tried to perfect was the doughnut recipe. I made batch after batch, trying to get the chef to include it in his dessert menu. But alas, they were not perfect. We made donut holes stuffed with chocolate, gianduja (hazelnut milk chocolate), chocolate chips, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, chocolate EVERTHING! But the problem with serving doughnuts was that the only fryer was on the opposite side of the dessert station (where I was) and we couldn’t premake them for fast service. Let’s just say I gained 3 pounds that month.

The Recipe: Apple Cider Beignets with Butter Rum Caramel Sauce

I was flipping through my October Gourmet and saw this GORGEOUS picture of a beignet hanging off the side of a bowl dripping with rich caramel sauce. See below.

(Courtesy of Gourmet October 2007. Photo by Romulo Yanes) After staring at it at work for a week, I decided I would make it this weekend. And I did! Due to my shiteous picture taking skills and not even owning a camera of my own, the pictures below are the end result. It doesn’t look as inticing but I can assure you they tasted just as good. I thought the apple slice dipped in batter would produce a limp and breadless piece of apple chip, but the self rising flour really made the apple slices puff up while they were frying. The caramel sauce is not too heavy or thick and works well to sweeten the beignet. The apple slice in the beignet gets incredibly soft in the frying process and when you bite into the final result, it’s as almost if it melded into the dough. Using a more tart apple gives the beignet the added tang and really lightens up the dish so it’s not just fried dough and thick caramel sauce. I’ve added some notes on some things I’ve noticed while making them.

 

For sauce
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream

 

For beignets
About 8 cups vegetable oil, divided
2 Golden Delicious apples
1 3/4 cups self-rising cake flour, divided
1 large egg
3/4 cup sparkling apple cider
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Equipment: a deep-fat thermometer; a 1-inch round cookie cutter or a melon-ball cutter (If you don’t have a cookie cutter use a 1/2 tablespoon to cut the cores out of the apple slices.)

 

Make sauce:
Heat sugar in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, (*Once you see even the tiniest bit of the sugar clumping stop stirring immediately! If you keep forming clumps, they will not melt at the same time as the rest of the sugar and thus you will be left with a clumpy caramel. When working with sugar, it’s best to minimize the stirring as it melts) then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber. Stir in butter, water, rum, vinegar, and a pinch of salt (caramel will harden and steam vigorously) and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel has dissolved. Add cream and bring to a boil, stirring, then remove from heat. Cool to warm.

 

Make beignets:
Preheat oven to 250°F with rack in middle. Set a cooling rack in a large shallow baking pan.

Heat 2 inches oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat to 375°F. (It’s really important to have a thermometer in your pan to watch the temperature. If it’s not high enough, the beignets will be soaking up oil and not cooking. Deep frying should be quick to make the product crispy. You don’t want something that feels like a sponge soaked in oil)

 

Meanwhile, peel apples and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut out core with cutter, then pat apple rings dry.

Put 1 1/4 cups flour in a large shallow bowl and make a well in center. Beat egg in a small bowl with a fork, then stir in cider and 1 tablespoon oil and pour into well. Stir with fork until a lumpy batter forms. ( The batter may initially seem very liquidy but it will puff up in the cooking process because of the self rising flour you used)

Working in batches of 3 or 4, dredge apple rings in remaining 1/2 cup flour, shaking off excess, then dip in batter to coat, letting excess drip off, and fry, gently turning over once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes total per batch. (You don’t want to put too many rings in the oil or else the temperature of the oil will decrease too much for them to cook properly. Always watch your thermometer and make sure it rises back to the appropriate temperature before putting in the next batch) Transfer to rack and keep warm in oven.

Just before serving, dust warm beignets with confectioners sugar. Stir sauce, then serve on the side

(Recipe courtesy of Gourmet October 2007)

Warning: The following photos were produced by a novice photographer. One who does not own a camera, but even worse, resorts to disposible cameras found in clearance bins to capture everlasting memories.


(Photo courtesy of Amy Yi. If interested in a copy, please consult your artistic palate.)

The resemblence is uncanny I know.


 
The Restaurant: Grace Restaurant

Grace Restaurant
7360 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323-934-4400
http://www.gracerestaurant.com

Hours of Operation:
Tuesday – Thursday
6:00PM – 10:30PM, Bar to 12:00AM
Friday & Saturday
6:00PM – 11:00PM, Bar to 1:00AM

Sunday
6:00PM – 10:00 PM

Valet parking is $5.50

 

Every Wednesday night, Grace Restaurant hosts a “Doughtnut Shoppe”. Owned by husband and wife team, Neal & Amy Fraser, it’s one of the restaurants I’ve been meaning to go to. Ya ya.. I haven’t even been there so why am I recommending it. BECAUSE IT’S ON MY LIST TO DO. OK? But I have been to his other restaurant BLD (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.. it was ok.. I went for lunch..) Ok back to doughnuts. So ya I’ve heard they have amazing doughnuts. Doughnuts filled with butterscotch, chocolate chip cookie dough, etc.Aside from their doughnuts, Grace has received rave reviews for their food. It’s contemporary American fare with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients. The doughnuts just make them even sweeter.

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