18 Jun 2012

"Morocco Version" of French Beignets (Sweet Doughnuts or Donuts)/Version Marocaine du Beignets Sucrés!

It is raining sugar!
A few weeks ago, I had a hankering for French Beignets, pronounced as (BAI-NYEE), a sugary pastry, very popular in Morocco as well. Like North-American version doughnuts (donuts), beignets are a French puffy deep-fried pastry, circle-shaped, and without a hole, served hot, garnished with caster or icing sugar.  However, unlike North-American doughnuts, beignets tend to be very light and airy with a hollow centre cavity that is usually filled with jam, crème patissière, melted chocolate etc......

When the French and Spanish occupied Morocco, they introduced a wide variety of baked foods into the Kingdom. Khringo, beignets, dairy products, elegant cakes etc... these are only a few of the examples of French and Spanish influences on Moroccan food.  However; the most influential is the Frensh cuisine, and with its sophisticated cooking techniques, it has contributed significantly to elaborate Moroccan style of cooking.  There is no doubt that the French cuisine, along with the Moroccan ingredients, all together,  makes an excellent gastronomic marriage, though Moroccan culinary culture holds its roots firmly from its first inhabitants, who are Shlooh (Chleuh)/Imazighen, Moroccan Jews, and the Arabs who conquered Morocco in the seventh century.

Today I'm posting the "Moroccan version of beignet", borrowed from French Cuisine.  Please notice that I put the words "Moroccan version of beignet", in quotations, since this is not the true "French style beignet recipe", which might require one to two days to make, enriched with high amount of butter and eggs (Some prefer to whip the egg white to a light foam), including a 12 hour or more poolish, with two to three risings of the dough, and an extra cool rise technique which undoubtedly leads to a deep flavour and superior texture of beignets.  But this recipe is a simplified version, very popular in Morocco, and so easy to make; requiring a few hours of rising and proofing time. The dough is not supposed to be wet or too sticky to handle, and some popular Moroccan flavours pastries are usually added to the dough such as lemon/orange zest, ground cinnamon, orange blossom water, anise seeds, etc....

Having grown up in a house right on the coast; as a matter of fact, it is only about a 20 to 30 minutes drive from our home to the blue sea, I really miss the dark golden sand, the sound of waves crashing against the shore, and I also miss those special French beignets, sold by several vendors, carrying plastic or wood trays packed with freshly made hot beignets, in Summer days of Boulevard de la Corniche, the beautiful beach Ain Diab or Ain Dyab (AYN-DYAB) in Casablanca, along the Atlantic Ocean.  Surrounded by chic/private clubs, swimming pools, restaurants, hotels and snack shops, Corniche Ain Diab is one of the most visited beaches in Morocco (after of course Agadir's beach), and is attended by so many tourists, and locals alike.  Maybe time to go back home (me thinking now with a nostalgic smile)!  I remember when I was a child, my parents would take me, my brother and my older sister down to this beautiful Ain Diab beach, to spend the whole day in this pleasantly inviting place. We would swim, jump, build sand castles, bury our bodies up to our heads, and we were all covered in sand, looking like little drown rats.  Swimming was so much fun for me when I was a kid, but sometimes when the sea was rough, I was scared to death to go through those huge big waves, but still, I would swim, hiding my fear from my brother's merciless teasing, who was an avid swimmer!  Now that picture makes me laugh out loud!

After playing and swimming, the most fun part of the day came next! FOOD.  If there was one thing that was not missing in Ain Diab Corniche, it was Food. There were several snack stalls and  kind of fast food Moroccan style within a five-minute walk from the beach : All kind of brochettes, kefta, fish sandwithces, beignets, all sort of ice creams, and even snails, served in their shells with a very spicy lemon sauce, called Babouch in Moroccan Darija (BA-BOO-SH), etc.... You can smell the meat or fish, nicely cooked over charcoal brazier, called Majmar or Kanoon.  Everything was so fresh, and all that stuff was heavenly!  I still remember those beignets were unique and yummy, with an exceptional texture, that come together to form an Ah-maze-ing treat, that I often imitated, trying and hoping to duplicate them, but I can never beat the real thing, as sold in Cornche Ain Diab.

I'm submitting this post to Susan's Yeastspottinga blog devoted to yeast bread.  Please check it out!
Article, Recipe, and Photos by Mamatkamal

In Ain Diab Corniche, those lovely beignets are served hot in a white paper bag or pochette!
C'est ainsi que les beignets de la page Ain Diab sont servis tout chauds, dans des pochettes en papier!



Here is the recipe / Voici la recette:

Yields: 18 to 20 beignets /  Environ pour 18 à 20 beignets
Preparation Time: 0 h 25 minutes / Temps de préparation: 0 h 25 minutes
Time to let the dough rest: 2 ½ to 3 h / Repos : 2 ½ à 3 h
Cook Time: 0 h 25 minutes / Temps de cuisson: 0 h 25 minutes

Ingredients:

-500 gr flour (I used strong white flour) / 500 gr de farine (J'ai mis la farine blanche)
Known in Morocco as /Connue au Maroc sous le nom
FORCE

-80 gr soft unsalted butter / 80 gr de beurre mou non-salé

-7 gr yeast / 7 gr de levure boulangère

N.B. : I used instant dry yeast, but you might use fresh or active dry yeast as well.  For all my baking, personally, I prefer using a little block of fresh yeast instead of dry one, but it is hard to find it where I live.  If you go here to a store or a shop and ask for fresh yeast, they will look at you like you were from another planet and 'how dare you ask for fresh yeast!'.  Having given no choice, I just go for instant or active dry yeast and the vendors usually tell you how to use this "thing" on the package.  I often use instant yeast where the package says it doesn't need to be dissolved in water, you simply mix it in with the dry ingredients and knead your dough.  However, if you use other types of yeast, make sure to read the package, you may have to dilute the yeast with some warm water and sometimes sugar as well until it puffs up before using itI also find these beignets a little temperamental depending on the weather shifts. Based on temperature, these beignets can rise most rapidly and expand, but sometimes they take longer than most to develop. / J'ai mis la levure instantanée mais vous pouvez aussi utiliser d'autres types de levure soit fraîche ou sèche active. Personnellement, je préfère utiliser la levrure fraîche, mais il m'est parfois difficile de trouver ce petit trésor de levure fraîche ici, alors je dois me contenter d'utiliser la version sèche.  Que ça soit levure sèche instantanée ou active que vous avez choisi, il faut tout simplement suivre les directives du fabricant.  J'utilise souvent la levure sèche instantanée et d'après les fabricants, ce type de levure ne doit pas être diluée, et elle doit se mélanger directement à la farine, sel, etc..... Par contre, si vous utilisez la levure fraîche ou la levure sèche active, assurez-vous qu'elle soit émiettée dans un peu d'eau tiède (et une pincée de sucre qui aide la levure à bien lever) avant d'être utilisée, et lorsqu'elle est diluée, il est recommandé de la couvrir et la laisser reposer quelques minutes avant de l'incorporer à la farine.  J'ai remarqué aussi que selon la température, ces beignets gonflent si bien et si vite, ainsi le temps de levée peut être considérablement raccourci, mais parfois, ils ne lèvent pas assez!

-2 tablespoons caster sugar / 2 c à soupe de sucre semoule
Known in Morocco as /Connue au Maroc sous le nom
SANIDA

-100 ml warm milk (I used whole milk) / 100 ml de lait tiède (J'ai mis du lait entier)

-Orange zest (from 1 medium Navel Orange) / Zeste d'orange (d'1 orange Navel, de taille moyenne)

-30 ml orange or lemon juice / 30 ml de jus d'orange ou de citron

-½ teaspoon salt / Sel ½ c à café ou à thé

-2 medium eggs, lightly beaten / 2 oeufs de taille moyenne, légèrement battus

-Pinch ground cinnamon / Pincée de cannelle moulue

-30 ml honey / 30 ml de miel

-2 drops orange blossom water / 2 gouttes d'eau de fleur d'oranger


Other/Autres Ingredients:

-Vegetable oil for deep frying, about 500 ml or more / Huile végétale à friture, eviron 500 ml ou plus

-Caster or icing sugar for dusting / Du sucre semoule ou sucre glace pour saupoudrer


Method / Préparation:

1-Sift the flour.  / Tamiser la farine.

2-Put orange blossom water in the milk and mix them together. /  Mélanger le lait avec de l'eau de fleur d'oranger.

3-In a Kassriya or a large bowl, place flour, salt, zest, cinnamon, eggs, juice, butter, honey, sugar and yeast, then mix well with your hands, adding gradually milk mixture.  Knead with hands to make a soft dough for at least 15 or 20 minutes. Keep in mind you might need to add more or, less milk, depending on quality flour./ Dans une Kassriya ou un grand bol, mélanger la farine, sel, zeste, cannelle, oeufs, le jus, miel, sucre et levure, puis bien mélanger avec les mains en ajoutant graduellement du lait pour former une pâte.  Bien pétrir au moins 15 ou 20 minutes. Il se peut que vous aurez besoin d'ajouter plus de lait ou mettre encore moins, car ceci dépend de la farine choisie, si elle absorbe plus ou moins de liquide.

4-Cover the dough and allow to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on temperature in your kitchen!  Allow the dough to rest as long as it needs to. / Couvrir la pâte et laisser reposer 30 minutes jusqu'à  1 heure ou plus. Le temps de laisser lever la pâte dépend de la température de votre pièce, s'il fait bien froid chez vous, laissez la pâte  assez de temps pour lever.

5-Divide it into small equal balls. Cover and leave them to rest for about 30 minutes./ Diviser la pâte en petites boules de dimension égales.  Couvrir et laisser reposer environ 30 minutes.


6-Flatten each ball into thin beignet circle, till they become about 0.2 cm thick. / Etaler progressivement les boules en cercles de beignets sur une épaisseur de 0.2 cm environ. 

B.N. I like to roll my beignets very thin because when I fry them, I know they will balloon up a lot and get a hollow effect. Use a rolling pin to go faster. / Plus les beignets sont minces, plus ils gonfleront bien aisément pendant la cuisson, ayant cette texture bien aérée. Utiliser un rouleau à pâtisserie pour aller plus vite.

7-Set the rolled out dough on a clean, DRY towel and cover with another DRY towel. Don't worry, they won't stick, but if you're not sure, set them, then in a well-oiled pan, not touching and cover.  Leave to rise for about 1½ hour to 2 hours. / Déposez-les sur un torchon propre et pas besoin de fariner le torchon, les beignets ne colleront pas.  Sinon, placer-les sur une plaque bien huilée, en laissant un peu d'espace entre eux, puis couvrir et laisser reposer entre  1½ heure to 2 heures.

8-In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil over moderate heat. / Sur un feu moyen, faire chauffer l'huile dans une poêle à frire ou autres.

N.B . Before starting to fry the beignets, test the temperature by dropping a small piece of carrot into the oil; if it floats and quickly starts to brown, then you can start frying.  It is very important to make sure the oil is hot enough before frying because if the temperature is too low, the resulting product is very greasy and unappealing.To keep the oil temperature constant while frying, fry only a few beignets at a time. / Avant de commencer à faire frire les beignets, vérifier la température de l’huile de friture, en jetant dans l'huile un morceau de carotte, et s’il dore et remonte à la surface, alors vous avez le feu vert pour commencer.  Surtout n'essayez pas d'aller plus vite en mettant trop de beignets en même temps dans la poêle à frire car si il y en a trop, ils vont abaisser la température de friture, ainsi vos beignets absorberont beaucoup de gras et goûteront l'huile.

9-When the oil is hot, then reduce a little bit the heat, and add the beignets, only a few at a time, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, on both sides or until brown. The beignet will rise.  Add more cold oil, if necessary, and allow a couple of minutes to return to perfect frying temperature, then continue cooking the beignets. / Dés que l'huile est bien chaude, baisser immédiatement un peu la température.  Faire frire seulement quelques beignets à  la fois pour 3 à  4 minutes de chaque côté ou jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient bien dorés et gonflés.  Ajouter plus d'huile froide si nécessaire et attendre quelques minutes jusqu'à que l'huile se réchauffe et continuer à cuire le reste des beignets de la même façon.

10-Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. While the beignets are still warm, sprinkle heavily with sugar. Serve while still warm. Enjoy! / Retirer les beignets et laisser égoutter complètement  sur un papier éponge.  Encore chauds, saupoudrer avec du sucre et servir bien chauds. Bssaha w Raha!

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