1. Introducing the Respect Beer® Society. Upgrading your account to a Society membership entitles you to more than a dozen awesome perks, from discounts, to add-free browsing, extended users stats, and much more. Join today.
  2. BEER FEST ALERT: Don't miss FUNK Boston: A Wild & Sour Beer Fest on June 14-15!

Beer Doughnuts: Beignets and Zeppole

Cooking with Beer by | May 2017 | Issue #124
Photos by Sean Z. Paxton

A dough made with beer, allowed to slowly ferment, fried until golden brown in a pot of hot oil, and coated in a dusting of Malt Powdered Sugar. That’s what I wanted to make this month: beer doughnuts. Note that the chosen beer style will affect the finished flavor; a malt-forward English Brown Ale, a German Bock, a Belgian Quadrupel, or a Russian Imperial Stout will all yield delicious—but different—beer doughnuts. You can also play with the coffee and doughnut theme, pairing these breakfast cakes with a coffee-infused beer, whether it’s Stout, Porter, or something else. (For more beer doughnuts, revisit issue #28.)

Beer Beignets
This style of doughnut originated in New Orleans. Café Du Monde, a restaurant in the French Quarter, is famous for serving beignets, heavily coated in powdered sugar, along with a cup of coffee. The dough is best when made ahead and refrigerated to slowly raise overnight, then rolled out and fried very quickly in the morning for a decadent breakfast, brunch, or snack.

Serves: 4–6 people

1 cup beer, such as Imperial Stout or Belgian Quadrupel
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 extra large egg, room temperature and beaten
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup evaporated milk, canned (key to the recipe’s success)
3 cup bread or all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 cup malted barley flour
1 tbsp instant active dry yeast

1–2 quart oil, such as rice bran, peanut, or vegetable

Dough Directions
Using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the beer, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flours, and yeast to the work bowl. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are incorporated together. Then increase the speed to medium to knead the dough for 3–4 minutes. Lightly dust a work surface with extra flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead by hand for a minute, forming a ball. Place the dough ball into a large sealable container with a lid coated with vegetable oil, to prevent sticking. Turn and flip the dough over inside the bowl to coat evenly in oil. This prevents a dry crust from forming. Cover the container and refrigerate at 36°F for 8–24 hours.

To Prepare Dough
Remove from the refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a paring knife or a cookie cutter, cut the dough into squares, diamonds, or circles approximately 3-inches across.

In a deep fryer or a large Dutch oven, heat the oil to 360°F. Fry the beignets in batches of 4–5, cooking 2–3 minutes or until they’re puffed and golden brown on both sides (beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff). Turn them with tongs once or twice to ensure even browning. Using a skimmer or tongs, remove the beignets to a sheet tray lined with paper towels or a paper bag underneath to catch any excess oil. Coat the hot beignets evenly in Malt Powdered Sugar. Serve immediately.

Zeppole de Birra
My love for doughnuts goes beyond an obsession—it goes global. These Italian-style fried treats are great for breakfast or at the end of an epic feast. The choice is yours whether to coat them in powdered sugar or fill them with pastry cream.

Makes: 18–20 doughnuts

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup malted barley flour, preferably organic
1 tbsp diastatic malt powder (optional)*
1 tbsp DME (Dry Malt Extract) or organic sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup beer, such as English Brown Ale, Bock, Munich Dunkel Lager, or Hefeweizen

1–2 quart oil, such as rice bran, peanut, or vegetable

*Diastatic powder contains the enzyme amylase, which aides in converting starches to sugars. This results in a more fermentable dough, a better rise, and when cooked, better browning and a more tender finished doughnut.

Extras
Malt Powdered Sugar or Imperial Coffee Stout Pastry Cream
(see chefs-table.homebrewchef.com)

Fermentation Directions (More Flavor)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flours, diastatic malt powder, DME or sugar, yeast, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the dough on low speed to evenly mix the ingredients together. Add in the beer while still cold, and let the mixer combine the ingredients for 2 minutes until a dough forms. Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover it with plastic wrap. Transfer it to a refrigerator or kegerator and let it ferment overnight. This will allow the yeast to slowly consume the sugars and starches, creating a more flavorful Zeppole.

Fermentation Directions (Less Time)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flours, diastatic malt powder, DME or sugar, yeast, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the dough on low speed to evenly mix the ingredients together. Add in the room temperature beer (about 70°F or warmer) and let the mixer combine the ingredients for 2 minutes until a dough forms. Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 40–60 minutes, or until it has doubled in volume.

Deep Frying Directions
Create a frying station by lining a sheet tray with paper towels or using a metal grid-style cooling tray. Have a skimmer or slotted spoon ready to retrieve the finished Zeppoles from the hot oil. Fill a large pot or Dutch oven halfway with fry oil. I prefer rice bran oil, as it has the highest temperature rating, allowing it to reach 400°F without burning. Heat the oil to 350°F. If using a gas or electric stove, adjust the flame to keep the temperature as close to this value as possible.

With the dough ready to go, use a small ice cream scoop, the size of one or two tablespoons, to scoop 6–10 dough balls out into the hot oil. Carefully turn each Zeppole with the skimmer, allowing them for cook evenly for about 2–3 minutes on each side. The Zeppole are done when they’re golden brown. Transfer the Italian doughnuts to the prepared sheet tray to drain any excess oil. Repeat this technique with the remaining dough.

To Serve
Zeppole are best served piping hot. To keep the first and last batch hot, preheat the oven to 250°F and place the sheet tray in the oven after each batch is deep-fried.

There are several ways to serve Zeppole. Traditionally, they’re coated in a generous layer of powdered sugar right out of the fryer or oven. I like to use my Malt Powdered Sugar recipe, adding a touch of DME to the mix of sweetness.

The Zeppoles can also be filled with pastry cream, such as my Imperial Coffee Stout Pastry Cream. Follow this recipe and fill a pastry bag with the finished and cooled cream. Using a chopstick, make a small hole in a hot Zeppole. Insert the tip of the pastry bag into the hole, and squeeze until just full. Place onto a warm platter and dust with Malt Powdered Sugar.