Fine Puff-Puff

Fine puff-puff! Fine puff-puff!! Fine puff-puff!!!

This is how traders hawk their well arranged puff-puff balls in glass boxes, on the streets of popular cities in Nigeria.

Funke Koleosho's Puff-puff with blackcurrant and Maple Syrup drizzle
Puff-puff is an all time best selling street snack in Nigeria, popular with the young and the old. In recent times, people have made meals out of puff-puff by serving omelettes with it or by adding a boiled egg in the the dough before frying. If done this way it is referred to as an egg roll. Puff puff is also very popular at parties where it is served as starters or small chops/canapés/finger foods.

Puff puff is quite similar to the French beignet which is really popular with the people of New Orleans (USA) and French speaking African countries. Perhaps this is the link through which puff-puff became introduced to us!

Puff-puff is made using four basic ingredients: plain flour, dry baker's yeast, sugar and water. A dough is created from this combination which is then allowed to proof for a short while. Proofing enables the puff-puff to swell into its typical round puffy shape when deep fried.

For clarification, puff-puff is not a dumpling and definitely not doughnuts (donuts) because the ingredients are so different and the processes involved in making them are also so different. To make doughnuts, you need eggs and butter and the dough must be kneaded before frying whereas you do not need eggs and butter for puff-puff and you do not have to knead the dough. Likewise the ingredients for making dumplings are different, plus, dumplings are more savoury than sweet so there is no comparison.

Puff-puff with blackcurrant/maple syrup drizzle
Puff-puffs are best eaten hot and freshly made. They already have a sweet taste (depending on the amount of sugar added) but caster sugar is sometimes dusted over them or they can be drizzled with honey or maple syrup.

If you have a sweet tooth, this is a heavenly taste. However!!!, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that puff-puffs are really high in calories (with high glycemic index) stemming from the flour and sugar. Also the fat in which it is fried is high in calories, so its important to ensure you eat them in moderation!

Some tips to achieving perfect puff-puffs:
  1. You must allow at least 30 minutes of proofing to ensure the yeast to act and make the dough rise. This will create light and fluffy puff-puffs which will not soak in too much oil during frying. 
  2. If the dough is left for too long to proof, it might turn slightly sour due to the continued activities of the yeast. So ensure that you time the proofing stage. 
  3. Activate the yeast in warm water first before adding to the dough. This will maximise the effects of the yeast cells. 
  4. Mix the proofed dough (a little dollop at a time) to smoothen it before deep frying. I have found that its best to your bare hands to achieve this smoothness.
  5. Make sure the temperature of the oil is right before frying. Test first by dropping a small dollop into the oil. If this immediately floats to the surface, then the oil is hot enough and ready for frying.
In today's recipe, I have moved slightly away from the typical puff-puff. I used less sugar in the dough but then enhanced its sweetness by creating a sweet and tangy syrupy dip which I believe has transformed its taste above expectation. You just have to try it. If you have a sweet tooth, you would absolutely love it!

  • 400g of plain flour 
  • 200ml of warm water 
  • 200ml of milk 
  • 120g of sugar 
  • Half a teaspoon of nutmeg (optional) 
  • 4g of dry baker's yeast 

Blackcurrant Dip
 For the Dip:
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice 
  • Half a cup of quality blackcurrant cordial undiluted (you can use orange or strawberry cordial as alternatives) 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup, sugar cane syrup or agave nectar. 
  • A pinch of cinnamon 
  • A handful of chopped dried mixed fruits (this is optional and I have not used in this recipe but have successfully used in my previous puff-puff recipes).

What to do:
  1. Start by activating the yeast by adding to the warm water. Stir gently to dissolve and leave for about two minutes. 
  2. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the nutmeg (if using ) and add the milk. Stir. Then add the water containing the yeast. Add the sugar and mix all together. Add a bit more milk to adjust consistency if required. The batter should not be too runny. Aim for it to be slightly thicker than a typical pancake batter. Cover the mixing bowl and allow to proof for minimum 30 minutes. 
  3. Heat the oil in a deep pan. Check readiness by adding a small dollop. If it floats to the surface almost immediately, then the oil is hot enough. If not, allow oil to heat up. 
  4. With your bare hands, portion a small amount of dough and mix by pulling towards the side of the bowl repeatedly, for a few seconds. Then scoop a small dollop from the mixed portion, squeeze through your palm and drop into the hot oil. Repeat this until you get through the lot. 
  5. Fry the puff-puff for about 5 minutes or until they turn golden brown all over. If they form perfect round balls, it will be easy to roll them around in the oil until all sides are done. Remove them from the oil and drain off excess oil using a kitchen towel. 

To make the dip:
  1. Add the cordial, lime juice, syrup ad cinnamon together in a small bowl and using a frother / or small whisk, mix all together. Its great to also add some chopped mixed dried fruits like raisins.
  2. Drizzle some dip over hot puff-puff and keep the rest on the side for dipping. 
Puff-puff with a drizzle of blackcurrant and maple syrup

More puff-puff recipes:
  1. Seriously sweet puff puff pudding



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