Recipe for Disaster: On the ‘Formation’ of Beignets


[Meredith Graves — Perfect Pussy frontwoman, Honor Press founder, Voice festival correspondent, etc. — loves making and eating food just as much as she loves making and listening to music. This week, Meredith is thinking about “Formation,” because how can you NOT spend every waking moment of this week unpacking “Formation” and reading about “Formation” and waiting for more new music from Beyoncé? Here are beignets for Bey, courtesy of Meredith’s kitchen.]

Beyoncé dropped the “Formation” video a few days ago, and the world will never be the same.

All signs point to black excellence. In a video rich with Southern iconography and political imagery, she namechecks loved ones and historical figures alike. There are drumlines and Mardi Gras parades. She sinks cop cars in a flood with the weight of her presence. She presides over a salon full of black debutantes in white linen dresses, posed and flawless on a velvet sofa. Her daughter is there. Another child dances in front of cops fitted in riot gear. It’s cinematic. It’s epic. It slays.

And lucky for us, countless incredible female writers of color have already published essays and participated in roundtables about the importance and impact of this video and Beyoncé’s impact on 2016.

Like Syreeta McFadden at the Guardian.

And Danielle C. Belton at The Root.

And (one of my writing heroes, tbh) Jazmine Hughes, at Cosmo.

And an incredible, dissenting anti-capitalist piece by Dianca London at Death and Taxes.

And so. Many. More.

Thank god (thank Bey?) we are not tasked with writing white-person thinkpieces about Beyoncé. “Formation” is not for us to dissect and discuss, and those who have tried are on blast for being idiots. Critiquing her Super Bowl performance for being pro-radical and anti-cop? Who isn’t pro-radical and anti-cop when cops are killing unarmed children, one of whom Bey’s dancers paid tribute to after the halftime show with the help of some young black female activists? City governments threatening to prevent her from showing up in their cities on tour…I mean, come on. That’s a joke, right? You can all get fucked. Nothing can stop Beyoncé, not even you, guy who looks like the offspring of Udo Kier fucking a potato

I’m simply here to pay tribute to her royal highness and make beignets — traditional New Orleans fried-yeasted-dough-sorta-donuts-sorta-fry-bread-powdered-sugar blobs of gluten and shortening and satiety and love. They are magic.

This recipe is also magic in that it’s passed through an endless number of hands before it gets to you, dear reader. I found it on this site, who found it on Allrecipes, where it was adapted out of a recipe from Costa’s French Market, etc. It tastes good for the same reason Beyoncé’s video is good: because it’s made with HISTORY (and Crisco).


2 tablespoons warm water (105° or so)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoon vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon sugar (plus a pinch for yeast proofing)
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for rolling)
2 cups neutral oil for frying
1 cup powdered sugar


1. In a little tiny bowl or measuring cup, sprinkle your yeast over the 2 tablespoons of warm water with a pinch of sugar for proofing — ICYMI, proofing is when the yeast “proves” it’s still alive by becoming foamy and good-smelling. If it doesn’t “proof,” throw it out and start over, cuz your dough won’t rise.

2. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together shortening, sugar, milk, and egg white.

3. In another tiny bowl or measuring cup, measure out 3 tablespoons boiling water. Add that to the shortening/sugar/milk/egg mixture and whip it real well. Then, whisk in the yeast from your other tiny cup.

4. Add flour to this mixture and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for one hour.

5. Heat two cups of oil to 360° in a deep and narrow pot.

6. While your oil is heating, divide the dough in half, and roll each half out into 6-inch square. Cut each square into five or six little squares (I used a pizza cutter because I just remembered I had one).

7. Drop three squares of dough in at a time. Fry on one side for one to two minutes. When the beignet turns golden brown, flip over with a fork and continue frying. After about another minute, take the beignets out (carefully!) and place them on a cooling rack or paper towels to drain.

8. Once they’re all fried up, let them cool for about five minutes, then toss heavily with powdered sugar. Beign-et doesn’t look as good as it sounds, so say it with me: Ben-YAY!