I am a long-time fan of yeast doughnuts, but traditional French crullers (made from pate a choux) are a whole different kind of amazing. Lightly crisp on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside, they deserve a place at your breakfast table. Preferably beside a cup of very strong coffee. —Erin McDowell
about 12 crullers
For the pâte à choux:
(4 fluid ounces) water
(4 fluid ounces) milk
(4 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups
plus 2 tablespoons (6 ounces) bread flour
eggs (about 3 large eggs) (have 1 to 2 extra on hand!)
In a medium pot, heat the water, milk, butter, and salt over medium-low heat. Bring to a full boil.
Add the flour all at once, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, over low heat. Cook until a slightly sticky paste forms—stir until the paste forms a ball around the spoon and there’s a film of starch on the bottom of the pot.
Transfer the paste to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute to help cool the paste.
Whisk the eggs together in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer running, add the eggs in a stream. Mix until fully incorporated, 3 to 4 minutes.
Test the consistency of the batter. Remove the bowl and paddle from the mixer base. Dip the paddle into the dough and lift up. The dough should form a V shape, eventually breaking away from the batter in the base of the bowl. If the dough is too stiff or pulls away too quickly, whisk together another egg and add gradually. Do the test again (see the related article for more information)!
When the batter has achieved the right consistency, transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Cut twelve 3- by 3-inch squares of parchment and arrange on baking sheets. They can overlap a little.
In a deep pot, heat 3 to 4 inches of oil to 350 to 360° F.
Pipe the dough onto the parchment squares into circles. Stop squeezing just before you reach the other side of the circle, and let the batter fall to finish the circle shape. If the final piece protrudes too much, dip your finger in water and press it down gently.
Transfer the sheet trays to the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This step is optional and will just help the crullers keep their ridges during frying.
Fry the crullers in the preheated oil. If you froze the crullers, you can peel the parchment away before frying. If you didn’t, gently place them in the oil, parchment and all. As soon as the structure sets (1 to 2 minutes), the parchment will release and you can remove it from the oil. Fry until very golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on a rack set over a sheet tray lined with absorbent paper towels.
Cool the crullers completely before glazing. In a medium bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar, cream, vanilla bean seeds, and nutmeg (if using) to combine. The mixture should be thin enough to easily fall over the crullers when spooned over. Add extra cream or milk if needed.
Spoon the glaze over the crullers on the rack and let it fall down the sides. Serve immediately.
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.