French Crullers are so easy that you could whip up a batch on a Saturday morning, no problem. They might look like special occasion pastry, but they’re as easy to make as waffles.
NOTE: This recipe calls for a larger amount of salt than what’s typical for cruller dough. Choux is a bland dough, and I love the flavor the extra salt contributes as well as the contrast between the salt in the doughnuts and the sweet glaze. But, of course, this is a matter of personal taste. Feel free to reduce the salt by as much as half if you prefer.
FOR THE DOUGHNUTS:
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp whole milk
- 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp water
- 8 tbsp (1 stick) butter
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 3 large whole eggs
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 1–2 tbsp grated lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
FOR THE GLAZE:
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2–3 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to a rolling boil over medium heat. (A rolling boil means that bubbles are “rolling” across the entire surface of the liquid.)
- Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined and throughout moistened.
- Return the pan to the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring vigorously the entire time. The dough will be very thick and stirring it will give your arm a good workout. Rather than “stirring”, think of it as kneading the dough with a wooden spoon. After 2-3 minutes, a thick film should have formed over the bottom of the pan and the dough should feel smooth.
- Dump the dough into the bowl of an electric standing mixer and use the spoon to spread it out into a somewhat thin layer, covering the bottom of the bowl and moving a few inches up the sides. Let cool, uncovered, until the dough is just slightly warm – about 15 minutes.
- Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and add 2 of the eggs to the dough. Beat on medium speed until the eggs have been fully incorporated into the dough, stoping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the 3rd egg to the dough. Beat on medium until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg white and lemon zest. Beat on medium until fully incorporated.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover and let chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- While the dough is chilling, heat a fryer to 375 degrees. Alternatively, add enough vegetable oil to a deep fry pan or saucepan to come 3 or 4 inches up the sides and heat to 375 degrees.
- Cut out ten 3-inch by 3-inch squares of parchment paper and brush each lightly with vegetable oil.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and scoop some into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Holding the pastry bag vertically over one of the parchment squares, pipe an even circle of dough, just making the ends meet and connect. Repeat with the remaining dough and parchment squares.
- Gently place a cruller onto a slotted spoon, along with it’s paper, and lower it into the hot oil, paper and all. Hold the spoon under the cruller for 4 or 5 seconds to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the fryer. Fry the doughnuts 3 or 4 at a time for 5 1/2 to 6 minutes, removing the paper with mental tongs after 1 minute and flipping them over after 2 1/2 minutes. The crullers should be a deep golden brown on all sides.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the doughnuts from the oil to drain on paper towels. Cool completely before glazing.
MAKE THE GLAZE:
- Add all glaze ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Add enough milk to create a runny glaze that’s still thick enough to adhere to the tops of the doughnuts.
- When the crullers are completely cool, dip the tops of each one into the glaze.