African Beignets Recipe from Gabon

This fried dough recipe produces the best homemade African beignets, which are popular French-inspired treat in Gabon. These soft, fluffy pillows of fried dough are dusted with icing sugar and make for a perfect snack, anytime of the day.

Country Number 63: Gabon

Upon beginning my research into Gabonese cuisine, I was immediately struck by the strong French influence that is still very prevalent in the country. It is true that many African nations (and consequently, their cuisines) have been impacted by their history of colonistion. However, the prevalence and longevity of this influence does seem to vary a lot from nation to nation. For instance, Gabon was colonised by French for 80 years. This isn’t a long time in the scheme of things. However, even though Gabon has been an independent nation since 1960, the impact of this colonisation still lives on. The official language of the country is French, and French cuisine is both prevalent and influential on local cuisine.

History of Gabonese Cuisine

In Gabon’s larger cities, you can find many French specialities, such as baguettes and croissants. However, in rural areas, staple foods are mostly consumed. These include rice, yams and cassava, similar to most African nations. In terms of protein, chicken, fish and bush meat are all common. These meats tend to come served with stewed vegetables and chilli-based sauces. Tropical fruits are fairly abundant, including mango, pineapple, coconut and papaya.

Popular Gabonese Vegetarian Dishes

  • Baked bananas– Sliced bananas are dipped in eggs, orange juice and bread crumbs then fried until golden
  • Chakery– A sweet dessert made of cous cous combined with milk, yogurt and sour cream, often served with pineapple on top
  • Atanga– A firm fruit that is boiled and used to spread on bread, referred to as “bush butter”
  • Beignets– Fried dough squares that are dusting with icing sugar
  • Gari– Cassava flour prepared as porridge

Vegetarian rating of Gabon Cuisine:

Making African Beignets (Fried Dough Recipe)

Although beignets are not exclusively a Gabonese dish, given their popularity throughout the country, we figured these fried dough pieces were worth making. A few years ago, we never went near dough-based recipes. I don’t think we ever even had yeast in the cupboard. Nowadays, it feels as though we are making a new dough recipe every week. It has really helped us get comfortable with a new realm of cooking. That being said, the success of our dough based recipes has been varied. I like to blame the fails on yeast gone bad, but they are probably just as likely user error.

Thankfully, these beignets actually worked out very nicely. The dough rose just as it was supposed to, and consequently, our pieces of fried dough puffed up just as they were meant to. My number one piece of advice is to make sure your yeast is active. Don’t skip the first step in the recipe. If your yeast is dead, discard it and start with new yeast. Otherwise you’ll have sad un-puffed pieces of dough, and nobody wants that.

How to make Beignets (Fried Dough)

These are pretty quick to make, however you do need to allow the dough at least an hour to rise so keep this in mind before you start.

  1. Mix together yeast, sugar and warm water together in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast starts to froth (if it doesn’t froth at all, it has not activated, and you’ll need to start again with new yeast). Once frothy, whisk in egg and milk. Transfer mixture into a mixer along with butter, flour and salt. Using a dough hook, mix until everything comes together into a dough.

2. Place dough into a bowl that has been lightly oiled and cover with a tea towel. Place somewhere warm for at least an hour and allow to rise (it should double in size).

3. Flour a work bench and roll out dough into a large rectangular shape that is around 6mm (1/4 inch) thick. Cut into squares around 5cm (2 inches) and transfer to a lined baking sheet.

4. Heat a few centimetres of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or deep frying pan. Once hot, place a batch of beignet doughs into oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for a few minutes, until golden brown, then flip over and repeat. Use a slotted spoon to remove beignets onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar.

Ingredient notes for African beignets

  • Active dry yeast- For this particular recipe, we used active dry yeast as oppose to instant yeast. You can use either but keep in mind the instructions are for active dry yeast.
  • Vegetable oil- Vegetable oil tends to be the best for deep frying as it has a high smoke point, a neutral taste and a cheap price point.
  • To make gluten-free/ vegan- If you are after a gluten-free/ vegan option, we’d recommend making vitumba instead, which are delicious spiced doughnuts from Cameroon.

Serving suggestions for African beignets

These fried dough squares are delicious served hot, dusted with icing sugar. We’d also highly recommend trying them dipped in our salted caramel sauce.

Beignets (Fried Dough Recipe)- Gabon

Beignets (Fried Dough Recipe)- Gabon

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

This fried dough recipe produces the best homemade beignets, which are popular French-inspired treat in Gabon. These soft, fluffy pillows of fried dough are dusted with icing sugar and make for a perfect snack, anytime of the day.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Mix together yeast, sugar and warm water together in a small bowl. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast starts to froth (if it doesn't froth at all, it has not activated, and you'll need to start again with new yeast).
  2. Once frothy, whisk in egg and milk. Transfer mixture into a mixer along with butter, flour and salt. Using a dough hook, mix everything comes together into a dough.
  3. Place dough into a bowl that has been lightly oiled and cover with a tea towel. Place somewhere warm for at least an hour and allow to rise (it should double in size).
  4. Flour a work bench and roll out dough into a large rectangular shape that is around 6mm (1/4 inch) thick. Cut into squares around 5cm (2 inches) and transfer to a lined baking sheet.
  5. Heat a few centimetres of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or deep frying pan. Once hot, place a batch of beignet dough into oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for a few minutes, until golden brown, then flip over and repeat. Use a slotted spoon to remove beignets onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Jo Cooks

Did you make this recipe?

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