Crullers are such gorgeous donuts, I could snap photos of them all day with sticky fingers. That is... if they ever lasted that long around here.
Not only are they photogenic, they're not terribly difficult to make. Perfect for the absent minded pregnant lady who wants a sweet treat asap.
For those unfamiliar with French crullers, they're different than your average yeast or cake donut. French crullers are light, airy and eggy morsels of powdered or glazed dough. (I usually tell folks: If you like Dutch baby pancakes, you'll enjoy these too.) They don't pack the same bellyache inducing carbohydrate-wallop that other donuts do. Which is a good thing, until you find yourself helping yourself to a second and then a third...
Om nom nom
They're made from essentially the same base as cream puffs, eclairs, gougeres and non-yeasted beignets (choux). While choux is a kitchen basic and I have a couple reliable recipes on hand I decided to take a page from a local Seattle foodie and photographer who recently put out a book titled Doughnuts. I can't help but love single food or flavor themed cookbooks, they're always a treat. So many variations and yes, there are gluten free and vegan donuts as well. (Now someone needs to put out a 50 recipe book devoted to French fries. Okay? Please?).
There are easily a half dozen recipes from this book I want to test, but I decided to start with something quick and simple. After all, I'm still rather clumsy in the kitchen. I'm now fairly certain my pelvis is held together with cheap rubber bands.
And on that weird note, let's make some donuts!
French Crullers with Honey-Sugar Glaze
from Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home
yields roughly one dozen
1 cup water
3 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
10 grams (2 teaspoons) superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
135 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour, sifted
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
vegetable oil for frying
150 grams (1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon honey (I'm using orange blossom)
3-4 tablespoons milk or water
Combine butter, sugar, salt and water in a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan. Place over medium high heat and bring to a rapid boil.
Once boiling, grab a wooden spoon and the flour. Add the flour and stir vigorously to completely incorporate. Continue to cook, stirring constantly for three to four minutes. You want to cook away as much of the moisture as possible, so continue to stir until you can mash it about in the pan without steam forming. Ferroni notes: "The more moisture you remove, the more eggs you can add later and the lighter your pastry will be." When a thin film coats the bottom of your pan, you can remove it from the heat and prepare to beat in your eggs.
Beating in the eggs is best done with a stand mixer or electric beaters. However it can be done by hand if you have the prerequisite stamina and/or viking arms.
Equip your mixer with the paddle attachment and add the flour mixture to the bowl. Beat the mixture for a minute or so on medium speed to cool. Then beat in your first egg. Once fully incorporated, scrape down the bowl and beat in the second. Repeat until you have used all the whole eggs.
How much of the whites you will use is variable. This depends on your flour and how much moisture you removed from the dough when cooking it on the stove. Your batter should be glossy from the additional whites, but still firm enough to pipe without flattening and losing it's shape.
This is my batter, a little tough to evaluate since it is smeared all over the bowl and photographed with poor light. However, it should appear glossy (not dull) and when pinched between your fingers and released, the batter should hold a firm peak.
So add enough of the egg white to the bowl, a little at a time while beating to achieve this gloss/stiffness (stop and check often). Remembering that too little egg and you will not get the steam needed to make these treats light and airy (dense donuts). Of course, too much egg and the dough won't have that firm peak when pinched and they will lose their shape when piped. Resulting in crullers that are flat and soft.
Done correctly, when piped your batter will look a bit like this:
Glossy and holds its shape well.
Once you're finished beating in those egg whites. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2" star tip (I'm using an Ateco 846 ) and fill it with your pastry dough.
As you see above, we'll be piping these onto squares of paper so cut out a few 3" x 3" pieces of parchment and lightly grease them. We'll be reusing them, so it isn't necessary to cut out a full dozen.
Now fill a pan with 2" of oil and heat it to 370°F (we'll be cooking one cruller at a time, so don't feel you need to pull out the enormous le Creuset to fry in). Prepare and set aside a layer of paper towels for draining and a cooling rack.
Once the oil is hot and ready, pipe rounds of the pastry onto the parchment squares. Drop a single cruller into the hot oil, paper side up. The paper should detach in a second or two (if it doesn't, submerge it with your tongs and it should release shortly) and then remove the paper with tongs.
Fry for a few minutes on each side, flipping once until they are a rich golden brown. If they are cooking too quickly, check your oil temperature and adjust. If they brown too fast and you pull them from the oil too early, the insides will still be overly wet and steamy and your crullers will collapse on the cooling rack.
Repeat with the remaining rounds of pastry, frying one cruller at a time and monitoring the oil temperature carefully.
Pipe more crullers onto the rescued slips of parchment and fry. Repeat until you've used all the batter.
Allow the crullers to cool on a wire rack. Once cool to the touch you can slather all those nooks and crannies with a yummy glaze.
Whisk together the ingredients for your glaze, using just enough of the milk (or water) to make a thick but pourable glaze.
Dip your crullers into the glaze and set them onto a wire rack to dry.
Allow the glaze to set and serve.