New Zealand tradition turned New Orleans classic

Lately Joe has been bringing me Takakau (Maori fry bread) from the Handi Hangi in Hastings. A Hangi is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven still used for special occasions.


I tried this 'fry bread' (super healthy...not!) and immediately thought, "This is so familiar, but something is missing." Bring on the powdered sugar! I recently watched a movie called Chef (If you love food, I highly recommend you watch it), and the main character took his son to New Orleans to try beignets at Cafe Du Monde. They captured the spirit of New Orleans so beautifully, and it made crave a taste of home.

So when Joe brought back fry bread on Friday, I decided we'd save it for beignets in the morning. 'Beignet' is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux paste. Beignets are commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top.


On Saturday morning I fried up the takakau and doused it with powdered sugar turning it into a beignet. Mmmmm! So good. So to celebrate my New Orleans heritage and a bit of New Zealand culture, I'm sharing the recipes for takakau and beignets. You decide which you prefer... fried bread for dinner or pastry for breakfast.

Takakau Recipe

Serves 8


  • 3 1/2 cups self rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cold water, to mix
  • oil, for frying


  1. In a large bowl measure the flour, then add salt. Gradually add enough cold water to make a soft dough, mix through with a wooden spoon, but don't over mix.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push or roll dough out to 1 1/2 cm thickness.
  3. Cut into the desired size, then place each piece into the preheated hot oil and fry til golden on both sides and double the size.

Beignet Recipe




  • 1 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature and beaten
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 4 cup bread flour or all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp instant active dry yeast
  • vegetable oil for cooking: use enough oil to completely cover beignets when frying
  • powdered sugar for dusting


  1. If using a mixer with a dough hook, place water, sugar, salt, egg, butter, evaporated milk, flour, and yeast in the bowl. Beat until smooth. / If using a bread machine, add liquid ingredients, then dry ingredients with yeast last (on top of everything else). Select dough setting and press Start, allow to run only until dough cycle has finished (do not bake).
  2. Turn the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and form into an oval. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until well chilled (3 to 4 hours) or overnight.
  3. To prepare dough, remove from refrigerator and roll out on a lightly floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into approximately 3-inch squares, triangles, or circles.
  4. In a deep fryer or large pot, heat vegetable oil to 365° F. Fry the beignets (2 or 3 at a time) for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are puffed and golden brown on both sides, turning them in the oil with tongs once or twice to get them evenly brown; beignets will rise to the surface of the oil as soon as they begin to puff. NOTE: If the beignets don't rise to the top immediately when dropped into the oil, the oil is not hot enough.
  5. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels, then sprinkle heavily with powdered sugar. Serve hot.