Mardi-Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”) is originally a catholic event which marks the end of the “week of the seven fat days” which were known as “jours charnels” (meaning carnival) in the old days. Before Ash Wednesday, the start of the fasting period of Lent, people celebrated in many diverse ways as it was their last chance until Easter to eat meat. The word “carnival” derives from the Latin “carnelevare” meaning “to take out the meat”. Indeed, meat was banished from the table during the whole period of Lent, as was sugar, ingredients containing fat, eggs and dairy products. If in Europe, the religious observance of Lent is followed by a rather small group of people, the celebrations around Mardi-Gras are still an opportunity taken by many to enjoy outdoor feasts, masquerade processions, masked balls, parades, pageants, jugglers, magicians and stilt walkers. This is what French people call “le Carnaval”.
In addition to France, Brazil, Venice and New Orleans play host to some of the holiday’s most famous public festivities, drawing thousands of tourists and revelers every year.
Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a public holiday. However, elaborate carnival festivities draw crowds in other parts of the United States during the Mardi Gras season as well, including Alabama and Mississippi.
Using a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together yeast, warm water, and granulated sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and nutmeg. While mixing yeast mixture on medium speed, add butter. In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk together milk and egg using a fork before adding to the yeast-butter mixture. Mix in 1 1/2 cups flour mixture to combine, then add 1 3/4 cups more flour mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in remaining 1/4 cup flour mixture by hand until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to a 12-inch square. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into 3-inch squares. Transfer squares to a floured baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium pot or deep-fryer until it registers 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches, add a few squares to the oil and fry, rolling them around constantly with a slotted spoon or spider, until golden brown all over, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer beignets to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Coat with confectioners' sugar, and repeat process with remaining dough and more confectioners' sugar. Serve warm.
Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.
18 ounces of flour
2 ounces of powder sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 lemon zest
1 orange zest
1 generous tablespoon of orange-blossom
2 ounces of butter
Grate the lemon and orange zests. In a salad bowl, mix in the flour with the baking powder. Form a well in the centre of the flour and add: the zests, a pinch of salt, 50 g of softened butter, the powder sugar, a generous tablespoon of orange-blossom water and the three eggs, beaten into an omelette.
Knead the mixture, with hardly any water, and let it rest for two hours. Take some pieces of the dough and roll them out very thinly with a rolling pin before cutting them in to diamond shapes.
Pour some cooking oil into a pan, heat it without letting it smoke and cook the dough on both sides, one or two diamonds at a time, before draining them on paper towels.
Sprinkle with icing sugar
Les girls from APPARiS