Vietnamese deep-fried sweet dough topped with sesame- Bánh Tiêu

Vietnamese food


  The humble Vietnamese Bánh Tiêu can be eaten by itself or filled with Bánh bò, Xôi and served as a snack or  breakfast like beignet or donut. They are round (about 3-4 inch diameter) pieces of dough, coved with sesame, deep-fried and lightly sweet.  A good bánh tiêu is airy, soft with some bite (lightly chewy but crisp), hollow but still  have some tiny doughy pillar like tree’ roots  inside .  A Vietnamese author, Thanh Tâm stated  that when the dough is rolled thin will make it hollow in Thanh Tâm’s bánh tiêu.  but it is not easy to roll out a stiff dough which has a little too much flour needed. Therefore, Hellen Le’s Hollow doughnut/donut/ bread is your call.
     However, Jacqueline Pham called it as Beignet which does not sound right to me because Bánh tiêu is always round and covered with sesame before  frying and the famous New Orleans Beignet is square except Mickey mouse beignets and covered with powder sugar after frying.  I haven’t tried either Beignets so I do not know the taste yet.  Mrs. J.Pham’s banh tieu has five-spice flavor. Like quick bread, it can be made with baking powder, baking soda or baking amoniac as in Playing with my food’s banh tieu.  
      However, I found and adapted this recipe from America test kitchen via Scrumptious and Sumptuous and make the best Banh Tieu of my childhood memory.

Beignet/Bánh Tiêu American style 

1 cup warm water (100-110 oF)
3 Tbs sugar
1 tsp instant or quick rised yeast
3 cups (15 oz) all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 Tbs oil and extra for frying (peanut oil is used here)
Powder (confectioner)sugar

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt and 2 Tbs sugar. Set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine warm water, 1 Tbs sugar and yeast.  Stir well and set aside until foaming about 10 minutes.  If no foaming. Discard and buy new yeast.  Then restart again.  Whisk two eggs and 2 Tbs oil to yeast mixture.
  3. Whisk flour mixture to the yeast and egg mixture with a rubber spartula or large wooden spoon virgorously until all flour incorporated into a rough ball.  The dough should be very wet/soft and sticky. .Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap (or transfer the dough to a marked container with a snapped lid) refrigerator over night or leave it at warm place 1/2 hours and then refrigerate the dough (helping the dough firmed up) until double in size about 1/2 hour more.  
  4. Heating oil (at least 1½ in. deep) to 350 oF in a heavy pot  or deep fryer.   Put a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Use a rubber spatula (or a plastic scrapper) take1/2 the dough out on a flour surface, pat it down with floured fingers, flip over and coat it with flour.  Use a floured rolling pin and roll the dough to 1/4 in thick rectangle 12’x9′.   Sprinkle more flour on the top and bottom of the dough if needed to prevent sticking.  Use a pizza cutter cut into 3 in. squares.  If you like round shape, then make them round and roll in sesame like Vietnamese Banh Tieu.  Check here to see how much flour we need for rolling the dough out.
  6.  Place beignets in hot oil one at a time, when it starts floating and puffy about 1/2 in from the edge, flip it over and add another beignet in hot oil.  Continue press beignet edges and immerse them into hot oil, flip over a few time until golden brown .  Do not add too many at a time to prevent the oil temperature dropped down too much which makes Banh Tieu/Beignet oily.  Transfer beigets to wire rack.
  7. Immediately sprinkle powder sugar liberally over them and serve warm.  If they are getting cold, warm them up a few ten seconds in microve or toaster.  The dough can be keep a few days in the fridge like no-kneaded bread dough.

Vietnamese Bánh Tiêu
This recipe will have two part: making sponge (bột cái) and dough.  I use a kitchen aid mixer to knead

the dough but it can be kneaded by hands. The sponge gives complexed  flavor for the dough and need less yeast, oil help dough tender and easy to knead.  Measure flour by stirring the flour a little bit, then scooping measuring cups into flour and level. Like most old recipes, this one uses both baking powder with yeast. I found a recipe uses baking powder/baking soda only like quick bread style.

Mix 1/2 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup warm water (100-110) with 1/2 tsp instant or quick dry yeast in a 2 cup container. Let it rise at least 2 hours and wait for it to fall before using (about 3-4 hours total).  When the yeast fallen it can be hold at room temperature or in the fridge for 24 hours.

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour and extra for rolling.
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp instant or quick rise yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs oil
1/2 c warm water or milk (warm to the touch: 105-110 oF)
Vegetable oil for deep fry

  1. Mix all ingredients and sponge together in a large mixing bowl by hand until the dough comes together.  It should be soft, tacky but just stiff enough to knead.  let it rest 15-20 minutes.  Knead withwith dough hook attached tat speed #2 about  4 minutes. The dough should clean the bowl sides but still stick at bottom, if not add more flour 1 Tbs at a time.  Try not adding too much flour.  Continue kneading about 4 minutes until the dough smooth and elastic.  The dough will spring back when you poke a finger into it. Scrap the side of the bowl down, mark the dough vollume by stickers or marker from outside the container or put it into a marked container.  Cover with plastic wrap or container’s lid and let it rise at warm place to double size.  Roll it into a log on floured surface. Cut into 8-12 pieces, form each into a ball, dip into sesame seeds. Cover with a towel, set aside 10-15 minutes.  
  2. Heat oil (need 2-3 inch deep oil) to 350 oF,  roll each ball of dough into 1/4 in thick disc or thinner if you can  which make a real hollow bánh tiêu.  Gently lower one disc at a time into hot oil.  The dough will start raising and puffy around the edge.  Use chopsticks or tong turn the dough upside down  and press around the edge to submerged it into hot oil for a few second. Then turn it up again. The center of both side start puffy but to turn up and down a few times for the center is poped out to the fullness. Need to practice turning at the right moment to achieve the fluffiness. When it is fluffy,  roll out another disc and repeat the same process.  Keep an eye on the others, turn a few times until godlen brown both sides.  Transfer to  wire rack.  Serve warm.  
  3.  Reheat left over banh tieu in microwave for ̀10-20 seconds.

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