Simple and easy to make Finger food. That's Nigerian puff puff! It is apparently the next most common yeast food product eaten in the country after bread. It is basically a deep fried batter of flour, yeast, sugar and water normally eaten as a snack. Of course there are variations of it all over sub-Saharan Africa.
We love puff puff at Bino and Fino headquarters. In fact some of us have a slight obsession with it! No names shall be mentioned. We wanted to share our love of puff puff with you so we asked a wonderful Bino and Fino fan to help us with a recipe. And here it is! We rarely do this so we hope you enjoy it.
Traditionally Puff puff is served rolled in granulated sugar, but in this recipe, we are going to sauce it up and serve it in fusion with a fruity apple sauce to boost the overall nutritional value of the dish. Apple fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which helps prevent absorption of dietary-LDL or bad cholesterol in the gut.
First, Assemble Ingredients:
Flour, sugar, yeast, salt, onion, ground white pepper, ground cayenne pepper, vanilla flavour, vegetable oil, water.
Combine The Dry Ingredients:
For fluffy results, try to follow the procedure the best you can. Delicate fluffy puff puff requires that the batter be systematically worked thoroughly as outlined in the procedure below. Many of us have tried to make puff puff and ended up with flat soggy results.
Measure out and sieve 4 cups of flour into a bowl.
Add 1/2tsp salt
Add 3/4 cup sugar to the flour.
Add 1/2tsp ground white pepper
Add 1tsp of ground cayenne pepper.
Using a wooden spoon stir to mix and set aside.
Grate and measure out 1/4 cup of onion (about 1/2 of a medium sized onion) and set aside.
Prepare a Yeast Paste
It is a good idea to prepare a Yeast Paste to confirm that the yeast you intend to use is still active before mixing in other ingredients so as to avoid a poor result. Sometimes yeasts go stale well before the expiration date indicated on the pack and this accounts for a good percentage of unsuccessful puff puff making attempts!
Measure out 2 & 1/4 tsp of instant dry yeast into a small bowl, add 1/4 cup of water, 1tsp of sugar (yeasts feed on starch and sugar). Beat lightly with an egg whisk to blend (a fork would do).
Note: Water should be warm but not overly hot. The ideal temperature for yeast growth is 95 to 115 degrees F., much colder and it won't activate, much warmer and it will kill the yeast cells.
Cover and let stand for about 5 mins in a warm, draught free place.
After 5mins, if the yeast is active, the paste should become foamy and bubbly like in the picture below.
If after 5mins there s no visible reaction from the yeast paste or the reaction is lethargic, it is stale and should be replaced with a fresh batch which should also be proved active before use.
Prepare Puff Puff Batter
In this tutorial, the mixing is done with an electric food mixer because the batter needs to be worked thoroughly to evenly distribute the yeast cells, get them all warm and happy so that they'll do an excellent proving job on the batter. An equally good result can be achieved using a hand held egg whisk but, you'd need to beat the batter like mad in between additions of the ingredients! Well, not quite like mad but at least vigorously enough to blend the ingredients thoroughly. Hope that makes sense.
Transfer the yeast paste to the mixer bowl of an electric mixer. If you are not using an electric mixer, transfer the paste to a 3 quart mixing bowl and continue, but remember to beat the mixture thoroughly as we add more ingredients to form the puff puff batter.
Add 2 cups of lukewarm water.
Set up the mixer. Add 1 cup of the dry ingredients you mixed earlier on. Set the mixer at speed 3 and allow it to run for about 2 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients in the order that will now follow.
Add 1/4 cup of the grated onion.
Add 1tsp of vanilla essence.
Add the remaining dry ingredients in about 1/2 cup increments until used up.
Allow to blend for 2mins then turn the mixer off. With a spatula or a wooden spoon scrape any flour that may have settled on the sides or bottom of the mixing bowl, turn the mixer back on for another 2mins and voila! The puff puff batter is ready for proofing.
Turn off the mixer. The batter should be the texture of a cake batter (thick pouring consistency), transfer it into a suitable bowl for proofing.
Cover with kitchen napkin and place in a warm draught free place, an unlit oven is a good place. Allow to prove - takes anything from 1 to 2 hours depending on the temperature of the proving area. You will know that the batter is ready for frying when it is all foamy, doubled in volume and throwing up large bubbles.
At the end of the proving period, the batter would have doubled in size, looking foamy with large pockets of trapped air. It is ready for frying.
Frying The Puff Puff
Before you start frying the puff puff it is good to prepare something for the fried puff puff to go in. It stops you running about once you get frying. A colander, basket or large plate with absorbent kitchen paper to soak up excess oil from the puff puff should do fine.
Place oil in a deep frying pan over heat and let it get hot. This is how you can work out how hot you need it. If you drop a tsp full of batter into the oil and it sizzles and bubbles to the surface it is hot enough. If the batter stays sunken in the oil, the oil is not hot enough.
Note: the oil should be at least 3ins deep in other to give buoyancy to the puff puff so that it has enough room to round out and flip over whilst floating in the oil as it cooks.
OK. Cut small portions of batter with the finger tips and ease them into hot oil with the thumb. Be careful now! Alternatively, use a desert spoon to scoop spoon fulls into the oil. Do it one portion at a time until the oil surface space is about 3/4 taken up - be sure not to overcrowd the frying pan as this will drop the oil temperature so much that the puff puff will absorb too much oil and become soggy.
Let the puff puff fry for about 2mins or until the underside is golden brown. At this point they are ready to be turned over so as to cook the flip side. Note: Some of the puff puff may flip over by themselves before their underside has browned sufficiently, when they do, leave them be.
Turn the un-flipped puff puff over onto their flip side and let cook to a golden brown (about 2mins). Note: if some flip right back after being turned and refuse to stay flipped that is fine. Just fry them a bit longer to make sure they are cooked through even if one side is not brown enough.
Using a slotted frying spoon, remove the puff puff and place in the prepared absorbent paper lined colander.
There it is. Looks yummy doesn't it? The puff puff should be fluffy to the touch and when split open, it should look sponge-like with holes created by trapped air pockets in the batter.
That's part one done with. We'll post up part 2 on how to make the apple sauce to accompany the puff puff very soon. In the meantime enjoy munching the puff puff. And thanks to the special Bino and Fino fan who made this possible.