Like a good old friend, doughnuts have always been there for me. From visiting my favorite childhood doughnut chain (that I wouldn’t dare step into now), to the time I started a doughnut business in Paris, to the summer I ran a doughnut shop in Provincetown, the delicious ring-shaped pastries have quite literally been the center of my life at times. After all this, I still love eating them, but let me get one thing straight… NOT CAKE DOUGHNUTS. I do not like cake doughnuts! They’re just round muffins...!
Back in 2017 while working in Provincetown at The Canteen, the menu was mainly doughnuts and ice cream. It was my first “seasonal” pastry chef job, in a big happy fun gay town whose busy season ran from May to September. It was a fun season, and besides a few summer flings, new friends, and tons of time kayaking, the best thing that came out of it was this cruller recipe that I’m about to share. Like all good recipes, I’ve worked on this one many many times, always trying to push it to the next level of where I want my perfect cruller to be. I’ve tried using different flours, adding a leavening agent like baking powder, using egg whites only, using olive oil instead of butter, freezing vs. not freezing, and many other alternatives. I love recipe testing. It makes my brain buzz. After a week of further tweaks, I think I’m finally ready to release this baby into the world!
Recipe notes: Please, please, be careful when around hot oil. Wear shoes, even if you’re at home. While this is pate a choux, I make it on the dry side to promote a fluffy, fully cooked interior. If your dough is too dense, it won’t cook in time, leaving you with a mushy doughnut. Finally, I really think it would be great if you bought a bag of bread flour for this! The high protein content really helps in this application. However, if you really don’t have it or want to get it… you can attempt with all purpose, for a slightly different result. With some practice, you’ll start turning out amazing crullers! A brown butter glaze will be included at the very end of this recipe as an extra for anyone who’s interested :)
Makes 6 large crullers
1 stick butter (unsalted)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons bread flour, sifted
2 whole eggs
1 egg white
~ 4 quarts of frying oil (grapeseed, canola, peanut)
Piping bag and large star tip
1. Have a whisk, heatproof spatula, and all of your ingredients ready nearby. In a large pot over medium heat, melt together the butter, water, a big pinch of salt, and sugar until it starts to simmer.
2. Add all of your sifted bread flour to the simmering mixture and immediately whisk it for 30 seconds, making sure to break up all clumps of flour. Switch to the spatula and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for about 3-5 minutes. A good sign to tell it’s done cooking: a film will gather on the bottom of the pan and start making a light “hissing” sound. Your dough should also form into a ball and stay together.
3. Move your dough from the pot to a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment. Beat the dough for 1 to 2 minutes to allow some cooling, then, on medium high speed, add an egg. Allow the egg to fully incorporate before adding more. Scrape the entire bowl with a spatula between additions. When all of the eggs have been added, the final dough should stretch about an inch when pinched/pulled between your thumb and pointer finger. If too dry to stretch, you may need to add another egg. (To do this part of the recipe by hand, beat the eggs into the dough one by one with a spatula. I believe you’ll get much better results with a stand mixer, though)
4. Now move your finished dough to a piping bag fixed with a large star piping tip. Onto a square piece of parchment (not wax paper), pipe a 2 to 3-inch circle, connecting both ends. If you mess up, just add it back to the bag and pipe it again! Try to pipe them kinda flat rather than super thicc, because they will expand a lot when frying.
5. Add about 4 quarts of frying oil to a large pot or dutch oven with a thermometer attached or nearby. Heat the oil to 375° F.
6. Carefully slip two crullers into the frying oil at a time (they should slide right off of their parchment squares) while monitoring the temperature to keep it consistent. You may need to adjust heat if it gets too hot or too cold after adding the crullers! Fry for about 6 minutes, flipping halfway with tongs or a frying spider. The dough will look almost done, but then suddenly expand to almost twice its size. Once nicely browned and feels lighter when lifted from the oil, they’re done! Note: if your crullers collapse after removing from the oil, the cook time was not long enough and should be increased.
7. At this point you can toss them in cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon) or a simple vanilla glaze (2 cups powdered sugar + 2-3 tablespoons milk or water) or scroll down below for my brown butter and rosemary glaze recipe. It’s best to drop hot doughnuts directly into the glaze so they dry with a shiny coating! These are also best eaten within a few hours. Enjoy!
Brown Butter & Rosemary Glaze
6 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 to 2 stems fresh rosemary
1. In a small pot, place the butter and rosemary stem. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the butter begins to brown and smell toasty. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add butter, milk, and powdered sugar. Whisk until a smooth glaze forms. Add more milk or powdered sugar if consistency needs adjusting: the glaze should be on the thicker side; it will loosen up considerably when hot doughnuts are dropped in. You can save this glaze for other uses as well!