I had some yeast and some flour, so I decided to tackle an old nemesis-Puff Puff. How do I describe puff puff? It is deep fried dough, basically the Nigerian version of a doughnut. Different cultures have their own version of it; from New Orleans beignets to Emirati luqaimat. It is a childhood favourite and I have fond memories of eating big fat juicy oily puff puffs. Naturally as I became an adult and moved away from home, I tried to make my own, and naturally I failed.
The first attempt was a few years ago and at the time I assumed the problem was that I had never worked with yeast which made the whole issue of rising was a hurdle to overcome. Instead of big fat juicy puff puffs, I ended with hollow burnt nonsense which put me off of trying. Following my recent success with bread, I was encouraged to give puff puff a second try. I found a recipe online and it seemed so unbelievably simple (even simpler than I remembered) that I was feeling pretty confident.
I woke up early and headed to my new favourite place- the kitchen (well second favourite after my room). I mixed together the flour, sugar, yeast, nutmeg, salt and warm water, taking care not to make it too runny or too doughy.
I then covered the bowl with kitchen foil and an old tshirt and set to rise in a pre-heated oven which had been left to cool.
All this took 10 minutes max which made me suspicious, was it really this easy? While the batter was rising I had nothing else to do so I decided to make some bread. Yes I am now a woman who casually decides on a whim to bake some bread. The ingredients for the puff puff batter and bread dough are almost the same; the main difference is just the consistency. So I followed the bread recipe I used before and left the dough to rise.
By this time the puff puff batter had been rising for about 45 minutes, as suggested in the recipe. As always when I peeked I could not tell if the batter had risen or not, so I had to refer to my pictures. Of course it had risen given all the bubbles but I left it a bit longer, a little over an hour in total.
So far so good, I thought. Surely things must go wrong now. I suspected that the trickiest bit was going to be the frying. In past attempts I had not used enough oil as I am quite miserly with my oil, and it quickly dawned on me that it was the oil not the yeast that was the main problem. I got a big pot, poured as much oil as possible and then let it heat up. I did not have an ice cream scoop or any similar instruments needed to get the round shape so I used a spoon. I tried to do everything right and still ended up with this:
Not only was it burnt, even worse was the fat that it was not fat and juicy at all! It was hollow which was my biggest fear starting out. Once again I rang everyone who could help (well my mum and friend) who then advised that I needed a lot of oil at a medium temperature. I transferred the oil into a smaller pot to make it easier to deep fry and resorted to using my hand to make smaller balls.
That was the secret to success! The resulting product was much better, it was not fat and juicy as I wanted but it was not burnt and it tasted good.
In summary for puff puff you must remember the following: 1) A lot of oil is needed for deep frying 2) The oil has to be at medium temperature 3) Find a way to make the round shape. Usually hand is best.
By this time the bread dough had risen to an acceptable degree and I had preheated the oven at 150 rather than 175 and started to bake the bread. At this lower temperature, I baked it for almost 40 minutes checking on it regularly.
This turned out even better than the previous attempt. The greatest baking trick that I have learned in my baking career of one month is brushing freshly baked bread with melted butter. It instantly transforms the appearance from drab to fab. Melted butter is real life photoshop, who knew? I mean look at this.
So ends the tale of the bank holiday morning when I woke up to make puff puff and bake bread, just because. I am that woman now and I am all the happier for it, Here are more pictures.
Till next time!