Palmiers, Two Ways

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers (you might know them as “Elephant Ears”) are a simple pastry made by rolling a thin layer of filling into a sheet of flaky pastry dough. If you’re anything like me, you spent way too much of the early 2000s watching Ina Garten make them on the Food Network.

Palmiers, Two WaysThe whole appeal of palmiers is that they’re stupid easy and make you look like you know things about French pastry. It’s super common to use frozen puff pastry for palmiers–Ina does it, and until a couple of weeks ago, that’s all I’d ever used too. After using a sheet of rough puff pastry leftover from making Maple Pear Tarts though, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to using the packaged stuff. I mean, look at these layers 😍

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysYou can certainly use frozen puff pastry (preferably the all-butter stuff) for today’s recipes, but I encourage you to try your hand at making rough puff. Pastry is intimidating to many home cooks, but this one is about as easy as if gets. As I said a couple of weeks ago, it’s easier than pie dough.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysThe possibilities for filling are nearly endless. Since the pastry doesn’t contain any sugar on its own, it works well with both sweet and savory fillings. Basically, if it can be spread or scattered, it can almost certainly be rolled into a palmier. I mean, if you play your cards right, you can start and end your meal with these elegant little pastries.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysIf you’re looking for a way to spice up your Turkey Day hors d’oeuvres spread, look no further than my Spinach Artichoke Palmiers. They’re filled with a slightly deconstructed version of my mom’s Artichoke Dip: a slick of mayonnaise, some chopped artichokes, and grated parmesan. I added spinach to bulk them up a bit, but you can leave it out if you like. I might swap it for chopped green chilies next time.

Palmiers, Two WaysAs far as dessert goes, I love the idea of serving a plate of Pumpkin Palmiers alongside a pot of coffee. And pie.

Palmiers, Two WaysWhat?! It’s Thanksgiving. It’s a two-dessert day. Three, if you count the Apple Cider Coffee Cake that you absolutely should make for breakfast. Anyway…

Palmiers, Two WaysPumpkin Palmiers are filled with a very pared down version of pumpkin pie filling: a light brushing of butter, pumpkin purée, three tablespoons of light brown sugar, and some pumpkin pie spice. Mix everything up and spread it all over the pastry.

Palmiers, Two WaysRoll up the dough and give it a chill.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysSlice up the palmiers and give them a quick brush with milk and a sprinkling of coarse sugar.

Palmiers, Two WaysIf you’re making the Spinach Artichoke version, swap the sugar for parmesan–toasty cheese, y’all 🙌🏻🙌🏻

Palmiers, Two WaysNo matter which kind of palmiers you’re making, the baking process is the same. Let them go for ten minutes at 400F. Flip them over, brush them with more milk and sprinkle on more coarse sugar (or cheese). Let them bake for ten more minutes and then, well…

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysThis is the part where you pretend you know things about French pastry.

Palmiers, Two WaysPalmiers, Two WaysAnd I mean, after making palmiers from scratch, you sort of do.
Palmiers, Two Ways

Spinach Artichoke Palmiers {Elephant Ears}
makes about 1.5 dozen small pastries

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the palmiers:
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts in water
5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
1 cup grated Parmesan or grana padano cheese, divided
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3-4 tablespoons milk

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the palmiers. Line a plate with paper towels. Drain artichoke hearts and transfer to a cutting board. Blog with paper towels. Slice them in half lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch pieces. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Place thawed chopped spinach in the center of a clean hand towel. Working over a bowl or sink, gather the edges of the towel and wring out all the excess water from the spinach. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Spread mayonnaise onto the dough, leaving a thin border on the edges. Scatter artichoke hearts and spinach over the top, followed by 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper. Working with one side at a time, tightly roll the two long sides of the dough toward each other until they meet in the middle. Carefully wrap the long tube of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Remove filled dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and transfer to a cutting board. Blocking the end with your fingers or a bench scraper (so no filling gets out), use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the dough in 1/2-inch slices and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake 10 minutes. Flip palmiers with a spatula, brush with more milk and sprinkle with more Parmesan. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the pan on a rack before removing to a serving plate. Palmiers are best the day they are made.

Pumpkin Palmiers {Elephant Ears}
makes about 1.5 dozen small pastries

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the palmiers:
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (I used turbinado)

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the palmiers. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together pumpkin purée, light brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Brush dough with butter. Spread pumpkin filling onto the dough, leaving a thin border on the edges. Working with one side at a time, tightly roll the two long sides of the dough toward each other until they meet in the middle. Carefully wrap the long tube of dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Remove filled dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and transfer to a cutting board. Blocking the end with your fingers or a bench scraper (so no filling gets out), use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the dough in 1/2-inch slices and place them about 2 inches apart on the prepared pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 10 minutes. Flip palmiers with a spatula, brush with more milk and sprinkle with more coarse sugar. Bake an additional 10 minutes.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes on the pan on a rack before removing to a serving plate. Palmiers are best the day they are made.

Chocolate Buttermilk Pie

Chocolate Buttermilk PieThe first time I made this Chocolate Buttermilk Pie, it cracked down the middle just minutes after it came out of the oven. I have a history of making ugly pies (my motor skills leave something to be desired), but a giant crescent-shaped crater was a little much, even for me.

Chocolate Buttermilk PieOnce that pie cooled though, I cut a sliver for myself and promptly fell in love. What’s not to love about soft, fudgy chocolate filling baked into a flaky pie crust?! Nevertheless, I couldn’t post a cracked pie on here and expect any of you to come back ever again. Lucky for you, I have plenty of pie dough in my fridge this time of year and entirely too much time on my hands 😉

Chocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieSo, how do I get my Chocolate Buttermilk Pies to stay in one piece? Well, it’s actually really easy. 

Chocolate Buttermilk PieIt all starts with room temperature ingredients. I recommend using room temperature ingredients in many of the recipes on this site, but it’s especially important in custard pies like this one. Cold ingredients just don’t incorporate and bake the way their room temperature counterparts do.

Chocolate Buttermilk PieEggs, in particular, should almost always be room temperature. They provide tons of structure in baking–in this recipe, they do nearly all the heavy lifting! I bring my eggs to room temperature by letting them sit in a bowl of hot tap water for five minutes before proceeding with the recipe.

Chocolate Buttermilk PieThe buttermilk needs to be room temperature, too. You can measure it out and let it sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes, or you can speed up the process by microwaving it in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until it no longer feels cold to the touch.

Chocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieMix your room temperature eggs and buttermilk together with some vanilla and a tiny bit of flour. Whisk that into a chocolaty combination of cocoa, sugar, butter, and salt that’s been bloomed* together on the stove.

*Note: for more on blooming, click here.

Chocolate Buttermilk PieRoll out a (chilled! Not room temperature!) pie crust and fit it in a pie plate. Crimp the edges and dock it with a fork before pouring in the filling. Bake it on the bottom rack of a 375F oven for 50 minutes, until puffed at the edges.

Turn off the oven, crack the door open, and let the pie sit for 10-15 minutes. This allows the pie to finish baking and begin cooling without any major changes in temperature. Don’t skip this step! This is the last step in insuring that your pie stays in one piece. Once time is up, let the pie cool on a rack before slicing and serving. Preferably with ice cream.

Chocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieChocolate Buttermilk PieI know Pumpkin Pie is king this time of year, but this Chocolate Buttermilk Pie just might steal the spotlight at your Thanksgiving celebration! I’ve given slices of this pie to fifteen of my friends and every last one of them wanted more. All that’s to say, you might need to make two of these.Chocolate Buttermilk Pie

Looking for more pie? Check out my Salted Butterscotch Pie, Maple Pecan Pie, and Cranberry Crumb Pie! Oh, and this Maple Pear Tart 🍁🍐💙

Chocolate Buttermilk Pie
makes one 9-inch pie 

1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough or other good crust
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 large eggs, room temperature 
1 cup buttermilk 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Roll out the pie dough, and fit it in the pan. Cut it to 1/2-inch of overhang, then fold the excess under and crimp. Dock the bottom of the crust with a fork. Place the prepared crust in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Position a rack in the bottom third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 375F.

Combine butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, remove from heat–mixture will be thick and grainy. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add buttermilk and vanilla, followed by flour. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture in two installments, whisking until combined. 

Place prepared crust on Pour filling into prepared crust.

To make egg wash, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Paint egg wash over any exposed crust.

Bake 45-50 minutes, or until filling is puffed at the edges. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly. Let pie sit in oven for 10-15 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. 

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Pie may be served warm, at room temperature, or cold. Pie will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Maple Pear Tart

Maple Pear TartHalloween is over and Thanksgiving is coming up. You know what that means…

Pie Season!!! 🍁 🍃 🍂🍁 🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂

Maple Pear TartIn the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I’ll be sharing a few new pie recipes, along with some other desserts, appetizers, and a Turkey Day side dish or two 😍😍😍

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartToday’s recipe isn’t exactly a pie–it’s a tart. A Maple Pear Tart. Like maple-glazed pears baked on the crispiest, butteriest crust that’s ever come out of my kitchen. This tart looks very fancy, but it is super easy to make. It’s literally easier than pie.

Maple Pear TartLet’s talk about the crust. It’s a simplified, homemade version of puff pastry, often called “Rough Puff.” I’ve used it for cheater croissants and for a few other things for which most people use frozen pastry, and I am consistently amazed that something I made in my kitchen could be so deeply buttery and flaky. Oh y’all, this is goooood.

Maple Pear TartIf the idea of making your own puff pastry–even the easy version–puts fear in your heart, you may use the frozen all-butter stuff. But really, there is nothing to fear. This tart is easier than pie, and this pastry dough is easier than pie dough.

Just cut European-style butter into some flour and little salt…

Maple Pear Tartadd some cold milk…

Maple Pear Tartfold it all into a dough…

Maple Pear Tartpat it into a rectangle…

Maple Pear Tartand give it a few rolls and folds.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartWrap your rough puff pastry in plastic and throw it in the fridge for an hour (or up to two days). When you’re ready to make your tart, peel two pears and slice them as thinly as you can. You might want to break out your mandolin. If you don’t have one of those handy gadgets (I don’t), you can use a chef’s knife. Just slice the pears as. thin. as. possible.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartGrab that cold pastry from the fridge, unfold it, and roll it into a 10×14″ rectangle. Fold the edges over and crimp ‘em, then dock the center with a fork. It doesn’t have to be beautiful–mine certainly wasn’t.

Maple Pear TartSeriously, it doesn’t matter at all. Sliced pears, a bit of sugar and butter cover all manner of ugly crimping.

Maple Pear TartBake it up! Some big bubbles may form despite the docked crust–just pop ‘em with a knife. It’s way fun.

Maple Pear TartPaint the pears with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartYUM.

Maple Pear TartSlice the tart into eight pieces and serve it to people you love.

Maple Pear TartIsn’t that beautiful?! Those pears and that golden pastry are as visually stunning as they are delicious.

Maple Pear TartOh, I just love Pie Season.Maple Pear Tart

Maple Pear Tart
makes one tart

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the tart:
2 large baking pears (I used a Bosc and a Bartlett)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

For serving:
whipped cream (optional)

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Fold edges over about 1 inch and crimp with a fork. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate while you prepare the pears.

Peel pears and slice in half lengthwise. Remove stems and seeds. Using a knife or mandolin, slice pears as thinly as possible, about 1/8-1/16 of an inch. Arrange pear slices decoratively over the crust. Scatter sugar over the top and dot with butter. Bake 28-30 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Large bubbles may form during baking. Just pop them with a fork or sharp knife.

Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use parchment to remove tart to a cutting board. Remove parchment. Slice into pieces. Serve immediately with whipped cream, if desired.

Tart is best eaten the day it’s made. Pastry will soften after several hours.

Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsI wait all year long for sour cherries. I love their tart flavor and tiny size, and just look at the color! Does a more beautiful food exist?!

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsGetting your hands on sour cherries isn’t easy. Their season is only a few weeks long—blink and you’ll miss them! And you can’t find them just anywhere. I’ve seen them in a grocery store exactly once in the last five years and it was a super pricey specialty foods store. These are basically a farmers market-only find.

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsSour cherries are ideal for pie—I’m not sure I’ve seen them in any other application. Pie requires temperature control though, and the kitchen is the only room of my apartment that can’t be air conditioned 😢 Futzing with sticky pie dough while sweating and cursing whoever decided to put bars on a courtyard-facing second-story window is not my idea of a good time. Instead, I’m looking at the bright side and making something that needs a warm environment to work properly—Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls, y’all!

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsThese rolls are made with my favorite sweet yeast dough, and positively loaded with sour cherries! In fact, the filling is literally just sour cherries, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt. I considered adding some spices to pep things up, but this perfect seasonal fruit simply doesn’t need any adornment.

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsThese rolls are delicious, but they can be a little tough to handle. Once the dough is rolled out and the filling is piled on, it’s time to roll everything up. This can be near impossible to do evenly, so please don’t stress yourself out about it.

Slicing requires a little more patience than most sweet roll recipes. Instead of slicing all the rolls at once, I recommend slicing them individually, using your free hand to keep them intact as you transfer each one to the pan. This may not go perfectly either, but just know that a rise will make any cosmetic issues disappear. If you have any cherries fall out, just nudge them back in the best you can—again, don’t let this stress you out. Everything is going to be fine. You can’t see it in these photos, but just know that these rolls were truly hideous after slicing. Post-rise and bake though, you’d never know it…

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet Rolls…and even if you did, icing would fix it anyway. This quick, five-ingredient icing is the perfect accompaniment to the sour cherry filling. It’s flavored with vanilla and almond extracts, and formulated to be extra thick. Once it’s spread over the top, it melts down and mingles with the filling and it’s just…divine.

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet RollsThese Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls are the best kind of mid-summer breakfast treat. Soft pastry, buttery, sweet-tart cherry filling, and delectable vanilla-almond icing—is there a better way to start the day?!

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsNow, run to the farmers market before the season is over! You don’t want to have to wait a year to make these.Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls

Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls
makes 12 rolls

Dough:
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten, room temperature

Filling:
2 1/2 cups sour cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
6-8 tablespoons heavy cream

Grease a 9×13-inch rimmed baking pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in milk mixture, followed by egg and yolk. Add more all-purpose flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead 5-6 minutes before forming into a ball and placing in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Make the filling. In a small bowl, fold together sour cherries, sugar, and salt.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 8×14-inch rectangle. Use an offset icing knife to spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter on all sides. Scatter cherry mixture over the top, leaving and excess liquid behind in the bowl. Starting with the long edge furthest from your body, tightly roll filled dough toward you, smoothing any seams with your thumbs. Carefully slice dough into 12 rolls—this may be very messy. Place rolls close together in prepared pan. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place covered pan in a warm, draft-free place for 60-90 minutes, until rolls have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375F. Uncover rolls. Bake 25-30 minutes, recovering the rolls with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack while you make the icing.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and salt. Whisk in extracts and 6 tablespoons of heavy cream. Mix until smooth, adding more heavy cream by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.

Drop spoonfuls of icing over the warm rolls and spread around with the back of a spoon. Slice and serve.

Rolls are best the day they are made, but will keep covered at room temperature for a day or so.

French Crullers

French CrullersLately, I’ve been all about homemade doughnuts (see here, here, and here). In that time, I have learned that a) homemade doughnuts are the best in the world, and b) they are easier than anyone would imagine. Seriously, if can make a quality homemade doughnut, anyone can!

French CrullersFrench CrullersToday, the obsession continues with homemade French Crullers, a.k.a. those light, fluffy, ridgy doughnuts you see behind every shop counter. While I was content with the Dunkin’ Donuts variation of this classic for years, I am now a homemade cruller convert. There’s no comparison between these and the mass-produced variety. The crispy piped ridges and airy middles are what my (current) doughnut dreams are made of.

French CrullersSo, what makes these crullers so French? Well, it’s all in the dough. Where most doughnuts rely on yeast or baking powder to help them puff, French Crullers are made with a classic French pastry dough: pâte à choux. You might be familiar with it in eclairs, cheesy gougeres, or as the airy shell in cream puffs (more on those soon).

Pâte à choux (pronounced “pat-a-shoe”) is unusual. It contains no chemical leaveners, instead relying on trapped steam to help it puff. Don’t worry–it’s only got six ingredients and it’s simple to make.

Like Churros, pâte à choux starts on the stove. Bring some whole milk, butter, a touch of sugar, and some salt to a boil over medium heat. Then, stir in some bread flour (we need the higher gluten content that it provides). Next, cook out the excess moisture. Turn down the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until you have a ball of dough. You’ll know it’s ready when there is a thin veil of dough on the bottom of the pan.French CrullersFrench Crullers

Transfer the dough ball to a mixing bowl and mix it with an electric mixer for one minute. This allows the hot dough to release a lot of steam. Next, beat three room temperature eggs in a measuring cup. With the mixer running, slowly stream in the eggs. The dough will start to become richer and thicker as it mixes. Once all three eggs are incorporated, lift the beater out of the bowl. Does the dough hanging off create a v-shape? It probably won’t at this point. Beat another egg and add it little-by-little, checking frequently to see if that v-shape is there. It may take all or part of another egg (the fifth, in this case) to achieve the right consistency. There is no guaranteed amount of egg in pâte à choux. This past weekend, I had one batch that only required 3 1/2 eggs, while another required 4 1/2. It all depends on how much moisture was cooked out on the stove. Long story short, make sure to have extra eggs.

When your pâte à choux is ready, it will be sort of sticky and gluey and look like this.French CrullersFrench Crullers

Load it into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe rings on individual squares of parchment. You could fry them immediately, but they’d likely lose their signature ridges. I like to let my piped doughnuts sit uncovered at room temperature for half an hour–this allows the dough to rest and a sort of skin to form, guaranteeing a classic ridged final product.French CrullersFrench CrullersFrench Crullers

Next up, it’s time to fry. Heat a quart or two of frying fat (I used canola oil) to 350F. Carefully slip one cruller (still adhered to its parchment) into the oil. After a second or two, use tongs to remove the parchment from the oil. The doughnut will puff and turn deeply golden after 45 seconds or so. Flip it and continue to fry until it has a nice even color all over. Remove the doughnut from the oil and wait one minute. If it is properly cooked, it will stay intact–if not, it will collapse. Once you’re sure your first cruller is as it should be, continue frying the rest of them.

French CrullersFrench CrullersThe last step is to give these beautiful doughnuts a dip in a classic glaze. Let it set for 20 minutes or so before eating two. French Crullers are lower in sugar and calories than most doughnuts. I’m not saying they’re health food (because they’re definitely not), but you shouldn’t feel too much guilt about having a third. I sure didn’t.French Crullers

French Crullers
makes 12-16 doughnuts

1 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cup bread flour (I use King Arthur Bread Flour)
3 large eggs + 1-2 more, room temperature
1-2 quarts frying fat (I like shortening, safflower oil, or canola oil)

Glaze:
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or mild honey)
4-5 tablespoons warm tap water

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine whole milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring frequently so that a skin does not form. Add bread flour all at once and stir in with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir dough for 3-4 minutes, until a thin veil of dough covers the bottom of the pan. Remove dough to a large heat-proof mixing bowl.

Crack 3 large eggs into a liquid measuring cup and whisk with a fork until combined.

Use an electric mixer on low speed to beat the warm dough for 1 minute, until some steam has been released. Continue mixing while adding eggs in a thin stream, stopping occasionally to scrape down the bowl.

Once all three of the beaten eggs have been added, test the dough. Dip the end of the mixer into the dough and slowly pull upward. If the dough is sort of gluey and makes a V-shape, it’s ready. If not, beat another egg. Stream it in slowly–you may not need the whole egg. Check frequently to see if the dough is right. You may need part or all of a fifth egg.

Load dough into a piping bag (or gallon freezer bag) fitted with a large star tip. Cut a sheet of parchment into 16 3-4 inch squares. Lay squares on rimmed baking sheets. Pipe rings of dough onto squares. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Doughnuts may be frozen at this point, if desired.*

Position a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Place near stove.

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat frying fat until it reaches 350F. Slip one doughnut into the oil. After a second or two, it will detach from the parchment. Remove parchment with tongs. Continue to fry for 1-2 minutes, flipping when one side becomes deep golden brown. Remove to prepared rack. Wait one minute to make sure that the doughnut does not collapse (it will if it’s undercooked). Continue frying in batches of 1-2 doughnuts, until all have been cooked. Let doughnuts cool to room temperature.

Make the glaze. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, vanilla, light corn syrup, and 4 tablespoons warm water until smooth and pourable. Add more water by the teaspoon, until the desired consistency is reached. Dip doughnuts one at a time, letting any excess glaze run back into the bowl. Place glazed doughnuts back on the rack. Glaze will set after 20 minutes.

French Crullers are best eaten the day they are made. If you must keep them overnight, leave them uncovered at room temperature.

Note:

To freeze piped crullers, lay them on a baking sheet and freeze until frozen. Transfer to a labeled freezer bag for up to a month. Let crullers thaw slightly while your oil is warming before proceeding with the recipe as written. They may take an extra minute to cook.