Tag Archives: French

French Cruller Doughnuts with Maple Vanilla Bean Glaze

17 Aug

Who on earth thought you could make doughnuts at home?  I always just thought they were something that magically appeared in boxes labeled “Krispy Kreme” on Sunday mornings.  Even once I actually went to a Krispy Kreme store and saw the factory machine churning out glazed doughnuts, it still felt more like a Disneyland attraction than actually connecting in my brain as the creation of food I was about to eat, much less food that I might be able to make at home myself.

I can’t remember how I came across this recipe on a great blog, Not So Humble Pie, for French crullers, but I do know that something struck me about this recipe.  It was the first recipe for doughnuts that I came across that I actually felt I could make at home.  Bonus: Crullers are the healthiest doughnut you can enjoy because they’re so airy which means fewer calories.

As always a few notes before beginning:  you’ll need a pastry bag with a star tip.  I bought a little kit for $5 from Sur la Table–50 disposable pastry bags and 3 plastic tips, including a star tip.  The recipe says to let the doughnuts cool before glazing them.  Truthfully, I think the texture was much better when they were still warm, so I would advise you have the glaze ready to go before you start frying up the doughnuts (just whisk briefly if it starts to harden up).  If your honey has been sitting on the shelf for too long like mine had, 20 seconds or so in the microwave will liquidize it again.  Finally, this recipe is certainly a long process the first time you give it a go, so don’t plan on having these ready before the rest of the household wakes up.  Go into it knowing that and you can have them good to go for a nice brunch.

French Cruller Doughnuts with Maple Vanilla Bean Glaze
Adapted from Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home via Not So Humble Pie

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  1. Mix butter, sugar, salt and water in a medium sauce pan and to a rapid boil.
  2. Have a wooden spoon in hand and be ready because this next step goes quickly: add the flour to the pot of boiling mixture, stirring like crazy to make sure the flour is fully incorporated.  It will go from liquid to dough almost instantly.  Keep stirring and mushing it around the bottom of the pot for about 4 to 5 more minutes.  You’re going to get a film coating the bottom of your pot, but it’ll clean up easy later.  Not So Humble Pie pointed out the reasoning is to remove as much moisture as possible so the pastry is lighter than air so cook until there is no steam coming from the pastry any more.
  3. Transfer the pastry to a mixing bowl and beat it with your electric mixer for a minute or so to cool it off, then beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure the egg is completely incorporated before adding the next.
  4. The amount of egg white you add will change with each recipe.  You want to add enough egg white to make the batter glossy (egg white will make the doughnuts light and airy later).  Add too much egg white and the dough will be too soft and the pretty piping won’t hold and your doughnuts will be flat.  Truthfully, I just added both egg whites and didn’t worry about it and my doughnuts ‘wilted’ just a little.
  5. Cut out four 3″ squares of parchment paper (we’ll be reusing them) and lightly grease them.
  6. Heat 2″ of oil to 375 degrees.  Keep your instant thermometer in the oil the whole time so you can keep a close eye on the temperature and keep it as close to 375 as you can.  Also, don’t get impatient and just crank up the heat to get the oil hotter faster–once it reached 375 I turned down the flame, but it kept soaring up past 400 and I just had to wait for it to cool down again.
  7. While the oil is heating, line a table with a stack of paper towels and set out a wire cooling rack.  Also, whip up the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar, vanilla, honey, and adding 3 tablespoons of milk.  If the glaze is not pourable, add one more tablespoon of milk.
  8. Back with the doughnuts, fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the dough and pipe it into a ring shape on each square of greased parchment paper.
  9. Once the oil is hot enough, take one square of paper and gently drop it into the oil, doughnut side down.  The paper will magically unstick and float off the doughnut in just a few seconds; use tongs to pick it up out of the oil and let it drain on the paper towel lined plate.  Fry the dougnut for a few minutes on each side–they should be a deep golden brown color all over.  Transfer completed doughnuts to paper towel lined plate and then over to the cooling rack while you finish the others.
  10. Luckily, you won’t have to grease the squares again, considering they’ve been sitting in a vat of hot oil.  Continue piping rings of doughnut dough onto the squares and frying them until you’re out of dough.
  11. Glaze the doughnuts by flipping them upside down and dipping them in the glaze.  Set them back on the drying rack with some paper towels underneath so that the glaze doesn’t drip all over your table!  Let the glaze dry a little and then enjoy!

Strawberry Genoise

1 Aug

I don’t know about where you are, but here in California it’s strawberry season with a vengeance!  Strawberries that are normally $4 a box are now just 88 cents a box and the smell of those ripe berries hit you in the face as soon as those sliding grocery store doors open.  That said, I got my strawberries for the week on the way back from the Gilroy Garlic Festival this weekend.  There are eleventy million farm stands along the road from LA up north–fresh corn, 6 ears for $1 and a half a flat of strawberries (SIX of those little green plastic fruit baskets) for only $5!!  Besides, it’s such a fun (and healthy! and economical!) gesture to buy directly from the actual farm that grew and cared for the food you’re eating.

With the over-abundance of strawberries, I knew I’d have to make something special and out of the ordinary this year (although if I said I could ever get tired of strawberry shortcake, I’d be lying).  Enter: Strawberry Genoise, a cake technique I had yet to try.  There is no leavening in the cake, so any height you get out of it is strictly from how much air you whip into the eggs.  I admit, my cake wasn’t as tall as I had hoped, but it made up for it in being a light, airy sponge cake that wasn’t too sweet–it certainly lets the strawberries shine!

Strawberry Genoise with Whipped Cream
adapted from Williams Sonoma

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar/confectioners sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced into chunks
  • halved strawberries for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kirsch*

*note: Kirsch is unfiltered cherry brandy that is very expensive to purchase.  I chose to forgo it.  However, David Lebovitz, pastry chef extraordinaire, has very strong opinions on kirsch, naming it the most important ingredient in his dessert repertoire after the obligatory flour, eggs, butter and sugar.  Read more about his thoughts on kirsch here.  I’ll leave it up to you whether or not to include it.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line the bottom a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.  I did this by placing the pan on a square of parchment paper, tracing around it, and cutting the circle out.  Also fill a large pot with an inch or two of water and set simmering.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the first 1/2 cup of sugar and the eggs.  Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the mixture gently until it reads 140 degrees on your instant read thermometer, which should only take 5 minutes or so (this apparently helps the eggs to whip up better).
  3. Once it reaches 140 degrees, take the bowl off the heat and beat the mixture on high until it is nearly tripled in volume, which took me almost 10 minutes with my hand mixer.
  4. Sift 1/2 the flour over the mixture and gently fold it in.  Repeat with the other 1/2 of the flour, gently folding it in.
  5. Gently mix a dollop of the whipped mixture into the bowl of melted butter, then pour that into the large bowl of whipped good stuff and fold it gently in as well.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until the top of the cake is  browned.  The original instructions say 20 minutes but I took mine out closer to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.
  7. Put the last 1/4 cup of sugar and the 1/4 cup of water into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Mix in the kirsch after its cooled, if you choose to use it.  (Without the kirsch, this is called “simple syrup”, great for mixed drinks so you don’t have sugar granules pooled at the bottom of your drink.)
  8. Add the heavy cream and confectioners sugar to a large bowl, whip to soft peaks.  Remember that this will serve as the frosting, so if its too runny, it will run right off the cake.
  9. Slice the strawberries–I went for chunks to give the filling some good body, but you can cut the strawberries into slices so that they lay flat between the slices.  Mix about 1/4 -1/3 of the whipped cream into the bowl of strawberries.
  10. Once the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool on a wire rack, run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan, then flip it out and slice it in half so that you have two flat cake rounds.
  11. Take the top layer and invert it on the cake plate so the crumby cut side is facing up.  Brush the cut surface with 1/2 of the sugar (and kirsch) syrup.  Add the strawberry-whipped cream mixture on top and spread it around evenly on the cake.
  12. Add the remaining layer of cake on top, making sure the cut face is, again, facing upward.  Brush the remaining 1/2 of the sugar syrup over the surface.  “Frost” the cake with the whipped cream, spreading it evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate as you please with strawberry slices, halves, however you choose to garnish!

Poulet en Cocotte

19 Jun


Poulet en Cocotte is French for “Chicken in a Pot”, which is hardly a very appetizing name–but at least the chicken is delicious!  The first half of the recipe is pretty hands-off and the sauce in the second half is simple as well.  I actually made this chicken and the sauce last for a whole week of leftovers…and now that I’m writing about it, I’m craving it again.  Would it be bad to have chicken for 2 full weeks in a row?

A word of warning: part of what makes this recipe so easy is that you don’t brown the chicken first and the chicken isn’t going to brown very much in the pot, so you’re going to end up with a relatively light colored bird.  Cooks Illustrated is always on this obsessive quest for browned crispy skin on chicken and turkey but, truthfully, I don’t particularly care one way or the other so this recipe suits me just fine.

Poulet en Cocotte
recipe slightly modified from The Best International Recipe cookbook
Serves 4, or a week of leftovers for 1

  • 1 roasting chicken (approx 5 lbs), giblets discarded
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, sliced thin
  • 6 garlic cloves peeled and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Make sure the chicken doesn’t have giblets hiding inside, and if there are, pull them out and discard.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add the oil, shallots and garlic cloves to a large Dutch oven and lay the chicken on top, breast side up.
  2. Cover and bake until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees in the center of the breast, about 1 hour. If you don’t have a meat thermometer of any kind, use your best chicken-judgement skills: make sure the meat is not pink and the juices run clear.
  3. Tip the chicken to drain the juices from the cavity back into the pot you roasted it in. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest while finishing the sauce–I promise it will stay piping hot for a loooooong time.
  4. Pour all the cooking juices into a fat separator and set aside to settle, about 3 minutes.  I don’t have a fat separator right now, so I just put it into a measuring cup, let it settle, and then spooned the fat off the top as best I could. Pour the defatted juices back into the pot and stir in the wine, broth, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup, 5-10 minutes.
  5. Off heat, remove the bay leaves, whisk in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Full disclosure: I don’t actually love onions and shallots, so I spooned the shallots out of the sauce at this point. But I don’t suggest this unless you’re just picky like me.

If you’re serving this for dinner for more than just yourself, carve the chicken up and serve the sauce in a gravy boat. If it’s for a less formal occasion (i.e: me standing over the kitchen counter at 11pm on a Sunday night), let the chicken cool (so you don’t burn your fingers…learn from my example) and tear it down into pieces directly into the tupperware. Dip pieces of chicken into the pan of gravy as you are breaking down the chicken, pop directly into your mouth and voila: dinner!  Don’t forget to save the sauce, too–it’s what really makes the chicken worth eating all week.

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