Aaah, Stage 12 and Saint-Étienne! Thank you for having your own regional doughnut recipe!
While the French word beignet simply refers to all types of doughnuts, the term Bugnes is reserved for these particular delicacies, originally conceived in the Duchy of Savoie, and more specifically around the areas of the Lyon, Rhône valley, Saint-Étienne and Franche-Comté.
This is another regional dish whose origins can be hotly contested, and with each regional area offering a slight twist on the original recipe – be it the inclusion of rum, orange flower water or lemon juice, or a crisp crunchy texture as compared to something soft, plump and pillowy.
Traditionally, these Bugnes were offered for sale in the offal shops of Saint-Étienne just before Mardi Gras to offer the people of Saint-Etienne one last ‘culinary joy’ before Lent; and to make the most of the days before the meat business grew quiet. Housewives would also whip up a batch or two prior to Lent in an effort to use up any left over oil which also could not be used during Lent.
And so, thanks to religious tradition we have the Bugnes. Tonight I bring you the plump and fluffy version native to Saint-Étienne. The thin and crispy version belongs to Lyon and can be made following the same recipe with the omission of the yeast.
Recipe and history courtesy of Les recettes de Noasette and http://www.lyonvadrouille.com.
- 500g flour
- 100g softened butter
- 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 50g sugar
- 50mls warmed milk
- 10g dried yeast
- 2 tablespoons of orange flower water or rum
- Oil for frying
- Icing sugar for dusting
How to do it
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (not hot or it will kill the yeast). Then place the flour and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the centre. Into this, tip the eggs, yeast mixture, softened butter and orange flower water.
Mix at low speed until the dough forms a ball and comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave in a warm place to rise for at least 3 hours. Note: this can also be made in a food processor however be careful not to over process.
After three hours, turn the dough out onto a floured bench and roll out into a large rectangle. Cut the dough into strips 2-3cm wide and then cut these into about 6cm lengths.
Then slice each of these through the centre leaving about 1-2cm uncut dough at each end. To form the knot shape, pick up one end of the strip and fold it backwards through the centre cut to form a twist.
Heat a few centimeters of oil in a medium frypan and saucepan over a medium-high heat and lightly fry the bugnes, a few at a time, turning until golden brown. Do not over cook as they can dry out quickly!
Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on some paper towel before dusting with icing sugar and enjoying!