Louisiana State Doughnut

Beignet (ben_yay)

Beignet (ben_yay)

Adopted in 1986.

The Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986. A beignet is a square, puffy doughnut sprinkled with powdered sugar. It does not have a hole in the middle.

Beignets descend from ancient Roman fritters. Savory or sweet; basic or complicated, these tasty deep fried cake and pastry treats are a glorious part of French cuisine. What exactly is a beignet?

"Beignet. The French denoting a general class of small, light, batter-coated, deep-fried items equivalent to the English fritter. This meaning has been kept in the state of Louisiana, where French influence is strong, and the beignets are a specialty of New Orleans. 'Beignet' also has a specific gastronomical meaning of deep-fried choux pastry...Choux paste is popular in many countries for making fritters."

---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p.70)

Louisiana State Doughnut: Beignet (ben_yay)

Beignet (ben_yay)

The word beignet (pronounced bey-YAY) comes from the early Celtic word bigne meaning "to raise." It is also French for "fritter." Beignets, a New Orleans specialty, are fried, raised pieces of yeast dough, usually about 2 inches in diameter or 2 inches square. After being fried, they are sprinkled with sugar or coated with various icings. It is like a sweet doughnut, but the beignet is square shaped and without a hole. Beignets are the forerunners of the raised doughnut.

The French colonists of the 18th century brought the recipe and custom of making beignets to New Orleans. Some historians believe that the Ursuline Nuns of France, who came to Louisiana in 1727, brought this simple pastry to New Orleans.

Beignets are like a sweet doughnut, but the beignet is square shaped and without a hole. Beignets are considered the forerunners of the raised doughnut. When you hear people in New Orleans say, "Goin'  fo' coffee an' doughnuts," they mean coffee and beignets. Beignet is one of the most universally recognized names for fried dough desserts which are basically fritter batter. For many years, beignets were shaped into balls or squares and covered with mocha frosting. Later the beignet was cut in the shape of a doughnut, and the raised doughnut was born.

Beignets are commonly known in the U.S. as a dessert served with powdered sugar on top; however, they may be savory dishes as well and may contain meat, vegetables, or fruits. They are traditionally prepared right before consumption to be eaten fresh and hot. Variations of fried dough can be found across cuisines internationally; however, the origin of the term beignet is specifically French. In the U.S., beignets have been popular within New Orleans Creole cuisine and are customarily served as a dessert or in some sweet variation. They were brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists, from "the old mother country", and became a large part of home-style Creole cooking, variations often including banana or plantain - popular fruits in the port city. Today, Cafe du Monde is a popular New Orleans food destination specializing in beignets with powdered sugar (served in threes), coffee with chicory, and cafe au lait. Beignets were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986

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