Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home
These pockets of pastry filled with currant jam are delectable, whether you purchase puff pastry or make your own. But be careful when biting into a hot beignet. The jam inside will be very hot!
“Of these there are several sorts; but the favorites of Mr. Clouet were one of the pastry sort, and the other I’ll shew in my next. Provide a nice rich paste, and roll out very thin; brush it all over with egg, and lay your jelly down in little lumps as many as you want for a little dish; prepare another sheet of paste and lay it over, pressing well between that it may not come out in frying; make your lard pretty hot, and dry of a fine yellowish colour, and dish them up with some fine sugar sifted over.”
—William Verral, A Complete Systm
- ½ recipe for puff pastry or 1 package commercially prepared puff pastry sheets, defrosted and cold but not frozen
- 1 jar of good quality currant jam or jelly
- 1 egg, beaten
- Lard for frying
- Confectionery sugar
- Flour your table top or marble board well. Cut puff pastry in half. Take one section of pastry and place on floured board, place the second underneath a cloth or in plastic wrap. Flatten pastry on board with your hand. Sprinkle top of pastry with some flour and roll out pastry thinly, approximately 12 x 18 inches.*
- Spread entire sheet of puff pastry with the beaten egg. You can simply use your fingers or a pastry brush, if you prefer.
- Place little dots of jam/jelly (about a teaspoon) on the puff pastry at even intervals (approximately 1.5 to 2 inches apart) until the entire pastry is covered.
- Repeat Step No. 1 with the second piece of pastry. When this second sheet is rolled out, carefully place this sheet over the first pastry covered with the dots of jam.
- Using your fingers, press firmly in between each little pocket of jam to form the beignets. Make sure they are well sealed.
- Cut out the individual beignets using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter. They should look like square or rectangular ravioli.
- Heat lard in a heavy bottom frying pan. NOTE: There should be enough lard in the pan so that the beignets float freely while frying. The melted lard should reach about 1/3 to ½ of the way up the side of the pan.
- When lard is hot, carefully add your beignets, frying no more than three or four at a time. Fry until they are a light golden brown and the pastry has puffed.
- Remove from pan and place onto absorbent toweling. When cool enough to remove safely, place on plate or platter and cover with powdered confectionery sugar.
* If using commercially prepared puff pastry thaw per package directions so that the pastry is cold, but not frozen, when you roll it out. Roll out one sheet of the puff pastry until it is 2-3 inches bigger than the original sheet. Proceed per instructions above starting at Step No. 2.
- 2 pounds flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 pound butter
- Cold water
- Cut 2 ounces of butter from the pound. Cut the remaining 14 ounces in three equal parts.
- Place flour in a large bowl. Rub the 2 ounces of butter into the flour until it is all absorbed.
- Add the 2 eggs and mix with your hand until incorporated.
- Wet with cold water until it makes a stiff paste. On a floured tabletop or marble board, roll out the stiff paste until thin.
- Take the first third of the butter and place little bits of it all over pastry.
- You now must do a series of folds. You will be folding the pastry in 1/3 sections. You can either lightly mark the pastry into thirds, or just mentally map out each section.
- Starting with the right side, fold 1/3 of the pastry over center section. Repeat with left. You know have a long rectangle.
- Take top 1/3 of pastry and fold it down (towards you) over center, repeat with bottom. You know have a square of pastry.
- Roll out the pastry until it is thin. Repeat this dotting of butter/folding method twice more until all the butter is gone.
- Cut the finished pastry in half so that you have two sections. Wrap each section separately in several layers of plastic wrap and freeze. One of the sections is enough to do the beignet recipe. Keep the other half frozen for another project.