Puff Puff — A very popular West African street food that’s quick and easy to make with different variations. Dangerously delicious and addicting!
As a child, I would often watch in amazement how the women selling the puffs would grab the mixture with the tip of their fingers place it in the palm of their hands and drop the mixture in oil.
I was fascinated by this process, and would go home and practice this act with any mixture I had on hand. But it never came out as proportional or as visually appealing as the women did it. After years of practice as an adult, I think I can proudly say that I finally got the hang of it.
What is Puff Puff?
Most West African countries are familiar with the popular street food Puff- Puff, which is known by different names depending on the country. Ghanaians call it Bofrot (togbei), Cameroonians and Nigerians call it Puff-Puff (Puff) or beignet in French. The basic ingredient consist of: flour, sugar, yeast, water, salt and oil for deep frying.
It is an easy and quick recipe to make with different variations. This recipe is the one I have been making for years and the one that takes me back to my hometown. It brings back memories of late night snacking on the street.
Trust me when I say that cooking these puff puffs are as mesmerizing as it is tasty. The best part about this treat is that it only needs a handful of ingredients. You might already have these in your pantry:
- Flour – This pantry must-have isn’t just for baking. it’s also great for many savory dishes.
- Yeast – This is basically the life of the dish. we’ll need this to make the dough rise and give it an airy and fluffy texture.
- Warm water – An essential part of making any dough. It’s the basis for forming our treat. It’s important to have in just the right warmth. If we use water that’s too hot or too cold, we’ll end up killing the yeast.
- Salt – it’s important to place this ingredient as far away from the yeast as possible. it basically deactivates or kills the yeast. You can also opt to add this after the dough has risen.
- Sugar – Common table sugar you can easily find in any grocery store.
- Cooking oil – We’re gonna need a lot of oil for deep frying the puff puffs.
Puff-puff is usually eaten for breakfast, as a snack or as a side dish. Regardless of when you eat them, they are enjoyable with or without a side dish. A must-have for me – pepper sauce. Use a spoon instead to scoop the dough into the oil if you do not want to use your hands. It still tastes delicious!
The beauty about puff puffs is that can eat it sweet or savory. it’s a great snack, appetizer, or dessert. I often eat it as a snack or appetizer. My son definitely loves it as a simple dessert with just a bit of powdered sugar.
If you’re craving for more, then these recipes from my list of African snacks and appetizers should help you feel satisfied.
Tips and Tricks in making Puff Puff
- Soft puff puff: For a softer puff puff, add about 1-2 tablespoons more water. Some people find it a little bit hard after it stays out.
- Crunchy not soggy: Do not over crowd the frying pan, it will absorb excess oil and sometimes make it soggy.
- Hold the salt: You may cut back on the salt, if you are watching your salt intake, about 1 teaspoon salt will do.
- Preheat the stove: If your house is too cold, turn on the stove for about 2-3 minutes until warm . Then turn it off and let the puff puff rise next to it. Or heat up the oven, turn it off when hot, and wait until it cools down. You want it warm but not hot, then let it rise in the oven. Check after 30 minutes to ensure it’s rising.
How to make Puff Puff?
- Activate the yeast: Mix salt, water, sugar, and yeast. Set it aside for 5 minutes (See photo 1)
- Make the dough: Add flour and mix (See photo 2)
- Rest and Rise: Let the mixture rise for approximately 1-2 hours (See photos 3-5)
- Pre-heat the oil: In a large sauce pan, pour vegetable oil into a pot until it’s about 3 inches (or 5 centimeters ) high (too little will result into a flatter balls), and place in low heat
- Check the heat: Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a drop of batter into the oil. If the oil is not hot enough, the batter will stay at the bottom instead of rising to the top.
- Fry the puff puff:
- Hand Method: Using your hands, grab a little bit of mixture at a time and drop into the oil. (See photo 6)
- Spoon Method: When the oil is hot enough, use a spoon to dish up the batter and another spoon or spatula to drop it in the oil. Sort of in the shape of a ball.
- Check the doneness: Fry for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown (See photo 7)
- Flip the puff puff: Turn the ball over for a few minutes until the underside is golden brown. (See photo 8)
- Remove from oil: Use a large spoon or a slotted spoon to take it out of the oil. I usually place them on napkins right away to soak up some of the excess oil.
- Coat the puff puff: If desired, you can roll up the finished products in table sugar or powdered sugar to make it sweeter.
Watch How to Make It
- 2 cups + 1-2 (480) tablespoons warm water (See notes)
- 2 1/4 teaspoon (7grams) active dry yeast (1 packet)
- 3 1/2 cups (440grams) flour
- 1/2- 3/4 cup (100-150grams) sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp (8-9grams ) salt
- Oil for deep frying
- Mix salt, sugar, water, and yeast . Set aside for 5 minutes.
- Add flour and mix.
- Let the mixture rise for approximately 1- 2 hours
- In a large,sauce pan pour vegetable oil into a pot, until it is at least 3 inches (or about 5 centimeters) high (too little will result in flatter balls), and place on low heat.
- Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by putting a ‘drop’ of batter into the oil. If it is not hot enough, the batter will stay at the bottom of the pot rather than rising to the top.
- Using your hands grab a little bit of mixture at time and drop in the oil.
- When the oil is hot enough, use a spoon to dish up the batter, and another spoon or spatula to drop it in the oil, sort of in the shape of a ball.
- Fry for a few minutes until the bottom side is golden brown.
- Turn the ball over and fry for a few more minutes until the other side is golden brown.
- Use a large spoon or something like that to take it out of the oil. I usually place them on napkins right away to soak up some of the excess oil.
- If desired, you can roll the finished product in table sugar or powdered sugar to make it sweeter