By Nayana Mena (African Plate)
What Is A “puff-puff”?
Puff-Puff, also known as Mikate, Kala, Togbei, Dumplin or Beignet is a popular West African delicacy that is essentially a sweet, fluffy ‘Doughnut’. It is a deep fried dough that is uncomplicated to make and is deliciously addicting, so you’ll definitely want to give it a try.
The basic ingredients consist of: Water, Yeast, Sugar, Flour, salt, nutmeg for flavour and lastly Oil for deep frying to perfection. However, every family, household or country has their own adaptations and secret ingredients that make it the perfect snack.
When Is It eaten?
Puff-Puff is a popular street food that is enjoyed across Nigeria and its neighbouring West African countries. It is commonly found at celebrations as a ‘party food’, dessert, side dish or starter, as a breakfast meal or even a snack throughout the day. It is fair to say that the Puff-Puff is the ultimate delicacy that can be enjoyed throughout the day.
Puff-Puffs can be eaten and enjoyed as both a savoury or sweet food staple which makes it even more special. Some people enjoy it alongside a meal, or while dipping it into a variety of different sauces, but my favourite way to eat them is definitely as a dessert when they’re lightly coated in icing sugar.
Making These Puff-Puffs isn’t as difficult as one can assume. They require only a handful of ingredients; Most of which are probably already in your kitchen cabinet and are probably familiar staples of other dishes. These ingredients include…
1. 3.5cups of Plain Flour. This carbohydrate staple isn’t just a must have of baking. It is also commonly used in many savoury dishes and snacks.
2. 2 Teaspoons/1packet of dry active yeast. This is responsible for giving the Puffs-Puffs a light, soft and fluffy texture by making the dough rise and gain air so it’s an essential part of the dish.
3. 1 Cup of white sugar. This can be table sugar or granulated sugar, but I would recommend baking caster sugar for that light and fluffy texture.
4. 2 Cups of Warm Water. This is needed in the process of making any dough and it’s important to get the right warm temperature to avoid the yeast dying.
5. 0.5 Teaspoons of salt. You may choose to add this to the dough after it has already risen as this will avoid deactivating the yeast in the dough mix.
6. Cooking oil for frying. This needs to be enough to fully coat the small dumplings when frying and can consist of sunflower, vegetable, coconut or any cooking oil that you prefer.
While these are the standard ingredients, some people choose to add nutmeg, cinnamon, Ginger, Cocoa powder, Desiccated Coconut, Chilli and many other spices or ingredients according to their taste. Browse our https://africanplate.co.uk/ website for other spices/ingredients that may spark your interest.
Now for the recipe (10 Easy Steps):
1. First you want to mix the Sugar, Water and yeast in a bowl and put aside for 5 minutes while the yeast activates.
2. Next you want to add the flour and combine it together using either your hands or cooking utensils to create the dough.
3. Cover this mixture with cling film in a warm environment and leave to rise for approximately 45 mins – 1 Hour. (This is where the magic happens and the mixture gets it spongy texture)
4. Now you want to add the salt and any additional spices to the mixture once it has risen and lightly combine it into the dough. Leave this mixture alone for 5 more minutes.
5. While doing this you want to pre-heat the cooking oil of your choice in a boiling pan or electrical fryer and test if it’s hot enough by scooping some of the doughy mixture into the oil. (If the oil is too cool the dough will stay at the bottom of the pan very densely instead rising to the top)
6. Next once the oil is hot enough you want to scoop out small, circular balls of dough and drop them into the oil delicately giving it a perfectly rounded shape. (Don’t worry if they don’t all come out rounded, practice makes perfect!)
7. Fry for a few minutes until the bottom is a tanned golden brown colour and then flip them slowly so that the underside is also a matching golden brown gradient.
8. Once both sides are completely done, you want to remove the balls from the oil carefully using a spoon or siv and place them down to drain and cool slightly.
9. (optional) Lastly, you can coat them in a light covering of powdered icing sugar for additional sweetness and aesthetic.
10. Finally, the Puff-Puffs are finished and are ready to be shared and enjoyed amongst many.
African Plate Top Tips:
1. Spongy puff-puffs are key. For a softer, lighter and more airy consistency you may choose to add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the dough mixture after it has risen to make it less dense and hard.
2. A crunchy outside is always favoured. A crunchy/dry outside and a soft inside makes for the perfect puff-puff, so to avoid them being dense and full of oil you may choose to add less balls into the pan in one go as it will absorb less oil this way and also leave them to drain once taken out of the oil to achieve the perfect outside.
3. Give it Warmth. When working with yeast temperature is so important and cooking this dish in a slightly warm environment will help the dough mix to rise to its full potential.
4. Try it with our CRUNCHIES. Try this puff-puff recipe while adding a few of our crunchie pieces into the mix before frying. This will give them a soft yet crunchy texture as well as a further enhanced sweetened flavour. Or instead just have them as an accompanying snack alongside these sweet puff-puffs. To find out more about this special twist. Follow this link https://africanplate.co.uk/product/crunchies/ .
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