Today is the International Women’s Day. It’s also Mardi Gras. Let’s celebrate Les Bugnes and women’s Chefs!
On that day, my grandmother used to make the most fabulous bugnes! Although she was born in Algeria in 1906 and could also bake the most mouth-watering cornes de gazelles, she came to Lyon during the 50s and learned to cook the best recipes from Lyon.
I remember her in her tiny traditional and very basic kitchen in Lyon, preparing during whole afternoons, these delicious pastries. I can still smell the rhum, or sometimes the orange blossom water she would use, relate with the excitement, flow and focus I could feel around the whole preparation. Cooking with my grand-mother was almost a religious experience! Mystical! Mixing paganism, sensuality with religiousity! I’m proud to say that I can almost reproduce the same taste, if not the same texture. I still do not know how my grand mother, “mamie”, created such fine, thin, light and crisp pastries. Practise will make excellence!
Bugnes dates back from the 16th century, here’s my 21rst century recipe!
4 cups of Flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
1 table spoon rhum (rum?)
The grated zest of one lemon, un zeste de citron…
…and a tiny bit of sugar! (plenty of icing sugar afterwards!)
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add the baking powder and stir until well mixed. Stir in the eggs one at a time. Add the softened butter, lemon zest and rum and work them into the other ingredients with your fingers until a smooth dough forms. The smell of the lemon’s zest with the rum is irresistible!
- Using a special pastry wheel, cut the dough into “bandelettes”, approximatively 4 by 2-inch rectangles. I like to give them all kinds of shapes, actually!
- When the oil is hot enough , add the dough a few pieces at a time.
- As soon as the bugnes rise to the surface and are lightly browned all over, remove them with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.
Sprinkle with “sucre glace”( powdered sugar) while still warm, and serve.
If you want to know more about the origine of Les Bugnes:
If you were to trace the oldest reference of the word “bugne” you would find this word in the city of Lyon, France in 1538. The word “bugne” comes from the old French word “buigne” now “bosse” (hump) which is also the origin of the word “beignet” which includes all fried-dough pastry kinds.
We found the word “bugne” among some the items of the list of foods purchased for a banquet in the honor of Rabelais (Major Renaissance French Writer and doctor) in 1538 at the Hôtel-Dieu de Notre Dame de la Pitié du Pont-du-Rhône in Lyon. Bugnes were among other “spécialités Lyonnaises” purchased that day, such as cervelas, macaron and saucissons.
The bugne was born to enable the people from Lyon to make a little fun during the season of Lent or Fast, (carême) in French. In the last century, from Ash Wednesday until Palm Sunday, people had to do what is called “tighten the belt” meaning eating lean. This was hard times for the people of Lyon who had to be content with a single meal at noon and just a snack in the evening where eggs, meat, fish milk or butter were forbidden.
Some “Lyonnaises” mothers had had enough and decided to mix some flour, yeast or grain that they had diluted in water and fried in oil. Bugnes were born!” From Squidoo