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1) Begin by activating the yeast. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment (or in a large mixing bowl) add the warm water, yeast and pinch of sugar. Stir and set aside until the yeast has dissolved, about 10 minutes.
2) To the bowl, add the 50g of sugar, salt, egg, and the evaporated milk. With the mixer on low, add half the plain flour and mix until just combined. Add the shortening, and then gradually add the remaining plain flour until the dough forms into a mass.
3) Turn off the mixer and transfer to a floured surface. Add more flour, if needed, until you have an even, medium-textured (it should be pretty firm) dough. Add the dough to a large buttered bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest for at least 3 to 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator.
4) Once rested, gently turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle a little more plain flour on top so you can work with the dough. gently shape the dough into a 2-cm thick rectangle so it can be cut into squares.
5) Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough rectangles into squares, (you should yield 12 large squares, depending on how thick you rolled the dough).
6) Preheat the oven to 140C/Gas 1.
7) On the stove top, heat about 8 cm of oil in a large, heavy-based pot over medium heat, (you want to make sure there is plenty of room as the beignets will puff up when cooked) to 180C. Fry the beignets in batches, about 3 minutes per batch, turning them in the oil while they fry to brown evenly on both sides. Transfer from the oil to a kitchen paper lined sheet pan and keep warm in a low oven while you cook the remaining dough.
8) To serve, transfer beignets to a serving platter and dust generously with icing sugar.
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