These donuts from Alsace are not the sprinkled and rainbow coloured sort you get in American donut stores. The word beignet, French for donut, dates to the 13th century and referred to a ball of dough fried in butter. In slang French today, a beigne is a bump following a punch, figuratively mirroring the swelling of donuts when they cook.
It’s obvious why these little cakes are called Little Ladies Legs/thighs or in French Petites cuisses de dames, as instead of the usual round donuts, you fry them in strips!
350g plain flour
200g caster sugar
100g butter (melted)
125g powdered almonds
Desert spoon Kirsch (you can also use cherry juice or a fruit brandy)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Grated peel of one lemon
Spoon of orange-blossom water (optional)
Beat the sugar and eggs together.
Add the flour, melted butter, lemon zest, almonds, salt, kirsh and orange blossom water if you’re using it.
Knead well and leave the dough to rest for about 2 hours.
Cut the dough into strips about 8cm long and roll on a board into little sausages about the thickness of a finger.
Brown them in warm (not boiling – the oil shouldn’t smoke or the donuts won’t taste good, aim for 170-180 def C) oil, do nut (oh I can’t resist that spelling) worry if they crack, that’s normal. Cooking takes just 2-3 minutes.
Place on absorbent paper and sprinkle or roll in icing sugar and cinnamon.