11But two species from the fried dough genus have become fixtures on the fine dining and culinary experimentation scene. French beignets and all-American doughnuts are suddenly popping up on restaurant menus everywhere. Doughnuts are either yeast-raised or made like a cake, with a leavening agent such as baking powder or baking soda. Beignets are traditionally made with choux pastry, a light dough also used in crullers and eclairs, but the treats can also be made with a yeast dough, which makes them more akin to a small doughnut. Behind the beignet At Menlo Park, Calif.'s Madera, beignets are served with a sprinkling of sugar and honey. At neighboring Marche, they're paired with strawberry balsamic jam. And at both Manresa in Los Gatos, Calif., and Mountain View, Calif.'s Chez TJ, they're served with chicory-flavored ice cream, a nod to New Orleans, where beignets first took up American residence. "Beignets sell ridiculously well," said Lincoln Carson, head pastry chef for the Mina Group. "They fly out the door." Carson has spent the last month testing beignet recipes, in preparation for the opening of Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak in San Francisco. His favorite beignet recipe, a yeast dough flavored lightly with nutmeg, is also used at San Francisco's RN74 and San Jose, Calif.'s Arcadia Steakhouse. The key to great beignets, said Carson, is to keep them simple and focus on technique and quality ingredients. Don't overcomplicate an already perfect thing by trying to give it a modern spin. DIY doughnuts You don't have to dine out for a creative doughnut fix, says Ferroni. Americans may down a staggering 10 billion doughnuts each year - nearly all made commercially - but homemade doughnuts are an old-fashioned delight. Many early American cookbooks included recipes for doughnuts, which home cooks would fry while doing their weekly Saturday baking. In addition to the freshness, there are other advantages, said Ferroni. You can control the sugar content and ingredients, and play with flavors. Her book includes basic recipes for yeast and cake doughnuts, as well as gluten-free and vegan doughnuts. She also delves into the wider world of fried dough with recipes for sopaipillas, loukoumades, and Portuguese malasadas, which are very popular in Hawaii. For those looking to go beyond plain fried dough, Ferroni includes a banana cake version, an apple pie spin and a margarita doughnut with a tequila-lime glaze. BEIGNETS Makes 10-14 crullers or 30 beignets Many restaurants now make beignets with doughnut-like yeast batter. Traditionally, beignets are made from a p̃¢te ̃ choux, which puffs and makes them light as air. This recipe works for crullers or beignets. 1 cup water 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 teaspoons superfine sugar \ teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 3 large eggs, divided 1 to 2 egg whites, slightly beaten Vegetable oil for frying 1. Place water, butter, sugar and salt in a heavy-bottomed pot; bring to brisk boil. Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated. Cook and stir 3-4 minutes more to steam away as much water as possible. The more moisture you remove, the more eggs you can add, and the lighter your pastry will be. Mixture is ready when a thin film coats the pan bottom. 2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir for a minute to cool, then mix on medium speed and add first egg. Let mix in completely, then scrape down bowl sides. Add remaining eggs, one at a time. Add egg whites, a little at a time, until the paste becomes smooth, glossy and holds a slight peak when pinched. Don't add too much or your beignets/crullers will be heavy. 3. Heat at least 2 inches oil in a heavy-bottomed pot to 370 degrees F. For beignets, drop teaspoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. As the dough puffs, the beignets will turn themselves over - flip any that need help. Remove with a slotted spoon, let cool, then glaze them. For crullers, use a pastry bag with a {-inch star piping tip. Lightly grease 3- by 3- inch squares parchment paper. Pipe a ring of dough onto each. When oil is hot, add crullers, paper side up. Remove paper with tongs. Fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel for at least 1 minute, then glaze. Note: Undercooked crullers and beignets collapse when they cool. Double check oil temperature and increase frying time, if needed. - Lara Ferroni, "Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home" (Sasquatch Books, 128 pp, $16.95) CINNAMON BUTTER PUFFS Makes 1 dozen puffs or 6 doughnuts These doughnutlike baked puffs can be made in a doughnut pan. 1/3 cup shortening { cup sugar 1 egg 1-{ cups flour 1-{ teaspoons baking powder { teaspoon salt \ teaspoon nutmeg { cup milk Topping: \ cup sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon \ cup butter, melted 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the muffin or doughnut tin. 2. Beat the shortening, sugar and egg in a mixing bowl. 3. Mix the dry ingredients together and blend into the sugar-egg mixture. Pour in the milk and beat until smooth. 4. Fill the muffin tins two-thirds full and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Or, spoon the batter into a piping bag (or a freezer-style zip-type plastic bag, with a corner snipped off), pipe batter into a doughnut pan and bake for 10 minutes. Let doughnuts cool for 3-4 minutes before removing from pan. 5. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl (a small bowl for muffins, a shallow bowl for doughnuts). Pour the melted butter into a second bowl of similar size. Dip the hot puffs or doughnuts into the melted butter, then the cinnamon-sugar mixture. - Adapted from Marion Cunningham's "The Breakfast Book" (Knopf, 1987) --- RAISED DOUGHNUTS Makes 8 to 14 doughnuts 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, divided 1 cup whole milk, heated to 110 degrees F, divided 2 to 2-{ cups bread flour, divided 2 tablespoons superfine sugar { teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 egg yolks \ cup unsalted butter or vegetable shortening Vegetable oil for frying 1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon yeast in } cup milk. Stir in } cup flour to create a smooth paste. Cover and let rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes. 2. Combine remaining milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (use paddle attachment). Mix in flour paste, vanilla and egg yolks. Turn off mixer; add 1 cup flour, sugar and salt. Mix on low 30 seconds or until dough starts to come together. Add butter, mix until incorporated, 30 seconds. 3. Switch to dough hook. Add more flour, \ cup at a time, kneading dough at medium speed between additions, until it pulls away from the sides, and is smooth and not too sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. Gently press dough down, and refrigerate for 1-12 hours. 4. Line a baking sheet with a lightly floured dish towel. Roll dough {-inch thick. With a doughnut or cookie cutter, cut out 3-inch rounds with 1-inch-holes. Place an inch apart on baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm spot until almost double in size, 30-40 minutes, testing at 5-minute intervals by touching lightly with a fingertip. If it springs back immediately, it needs more time. If it springs back slowly, it's ready. If it doesn't spring back at all, it has over-proofed; you can punch it down and reroll it once. 5. While doughnuts are proofing, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of oil, until thermometer registers 360̂¡F. With a metal spatula, slide doughnuts into the oil. Fry 1-2 minutes per side, or until light golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a wire rack over a paper towel, and let cool slightly before glazing. - Lara Ferroni, www.laraferroni.com --- BASIC GLAZE 1 { cups confectioner's sugar, sifted to remove any lumps 3 to 4 tablespoons milk or water 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional) Place the sugar in a bowl and slowly stir in the milk and vanilla a little at a time, to make a smooth, pourable glaze. - Lara Ferroni, "Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home" (Sasquatch Books, 128 pp, $16.95) --- MAPLE GLAZE 1 { cups confectioners' sugar, sifted 2 tablespoons maple syrup 2 tablespoons milk or water Place sugar in a medium bowl and slowly stir in the maple syrup and milk, a little at a time, to make a smooth, pourable glaze. - Lara Ferroni, "Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home" (Sasquatch Books, 128 pp, $16.95)