Facing my fears: frying french donuts

I love Saturday mornings because they're my time to really experiment in the kitchen, usually in some form of breakfast food. and it usually takes so long that it turns into lunch also, which I'm totally fine with.

I usually try to attempt something that I wouldn't have time for on a weeknight. something that scares me even. something like heating extremely flammable oil up to ridiculous temperatures and putting stuff in it. Yes, I have a fear of frying. Not so much the frying part but the how-fast-it-can-go-from-good-to-bad part. It's trial by error and I'm not a fan of failing. Or achieving a failure. Or any of that nonsense.

[370° is scary hot, people.]

I decided that the potential deliciousness in this pin for French cruellers with honey glaze was greater than my fear (who doesn't love a twisty, fluffy, donut covered in a sweet glaze?!), and I dove right on in. I had a huge jug of canola oil on hand from the last time I attempted to fry something (spoiler alert: it went poorly). So I heated that up with my handy dandy candy thermometer and got out the fire extinguisher.

I've made pastry before (or as the French would say viennoise) but it's another thing that majorly intimidates me. Soooo many things that have to be just so and sooo many opportunities to go wrong. But I'm here to tell you this story has a happy ending.

I mixed the pastry according to the recipe (below), without burning the roux (heated mixture of milk, butter, and flour that makes the base of the "dough") and successfully incorporating the eggs. I ended up with this thick, sticky dough-stuff that I dumped into my piping bag with the biggest star tip I could find.

[Things are literally heating up over here.]

The recipe advises piping the cruellers onto squares of parchment to make the frying easier. And I'm an ESTJ so that's what I did. and it was brilliant, because it enables them to keep their shape because the dough is so sticky!

Okay. Fry time.

 [that is boiling oil, people. BOILING.]

Using tongs, I dropped five squares in at a time, parchment paper on the top. It almost immediately pops off and you can pull it out with the tongs. I left them for about 30 seconds on this side, but next time I'd do a minute. But I was so scared of burning them, that I was timid.

 [swirly twirly goodness]

Then I used the tongs to gently flip them over for the next side. I was thrilled to see how they kept their crueller shape! I gave them another 30 seconds on this side, but again I'd probably give them a minute both sides next time.

[My little beauties. no fire or anything!]

I used the tongs to pull them out, and dragged them, dripping, to the opposite counter to a cooling rack covered in paper towels, thus dripping boiling oil all over the floor. So I angled the rug to catch it all and carried on.

After I fried all of them (about 2 dozen total, though I'd make them thicker next time for fewer donuts), I mixed together the honey glaze and dipped the cruellers, twisty-side down. I had to add a little more milk to make the glaze thin enough to dip, but it was delicious.

[I think the French would be proud of these.]

I then proceeded to take a trillion photos, and by the time I got around to eating them they were kinda cold. Food blog problems. But I threw them in the microwave (shhh don't tell the French) for a few seconds and they were warm and perfect with a cup of coffee (at what ended up being 1pm).

All in all, my kitchen was covered in oil due to my bad practices, but the recipe itself was surprisingly easy! And the ingredients are all things you usually have on hand. I could hardly believe they actually turned out the way they were supposed to! Folks, if I can do this (fear and trembling and all), then you've got to give it a try. They are beautiful little treats that will really impress your friends. (Side note though: they don't save well. Like, not even one day. They turn to gritty mush. So eat up!)

French Crullers
from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni, originally found here

1 cup water
6 Tbs unsalted butter (I used salted, no shame)
2 Tsps white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (sifting recommended, but who has time for that?)
3 eggs
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
vegetable oil for frying (I used canola oil, you know, to be healthy)

Honey glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbs honey
4 Tbs milk (I used 5 to make it thin enough for dipping)

Bring the water, butter, sugar, and salt to a brisk boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour all at once and continue stirring until the flour is completely incorporated. Keep stirring over medium-high heat. Lara says the more moisture you can remove, the more eggs you can mix in later which will result in a lighter pastry. When you see a thin film start to coat the bottom of the pan, the batter is ready. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer. Use the paddle attachment to stir the dough for a minute to help it cool. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add one egg. Don’t add the next egg until the previous has been completely incorporated into the dough. Then add the egg whites a little bit at a time (I used two egg whites) until the dough becomes smooth and glossy and holds a little shape (not much). Lara warns not to add too much egg white or else the crullers will become heavy. Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip.

Fry the crullers in 2-inches (or more) of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. The oil should register 370°F. While the oil is heating, cut a dozen 3-x3-inch squares of parchment. Lightly grease the squares on one side (I brushed with vegetable oil) and pipe a ring of dough onto each of the squares. When the oil has reached temperature, carefully place a cruller, paper-side up, into the hot oil. Do this one at a time unless you like the idea of hot oil burns and other disasters. After a minute or so, I would use tongs and a sharp knife tip to gently peel the parchment off the cruller. When the cruller turns golden (about 2 minutes), flip it over and let it fry for another couple of minutes before removing it to drain on a cooling rack or paper towels.

Make the glaze: While the crullers cool, mix the confectioners’ sugar, honey, and milk together until smooth.

When the crullers are cool to the touch, dip the top of each cruller into the honey glaze and set on a cooling rack to let the drips run off. When the glaze has set, the crullers are ready to serve.

Crullers can also be baked. Preheat oven to 450°F. Pipe crullers onto a parchment-lined baking sheet at least 2-inches apart. Bake for five minutes then reduce oven to 350°F and bake another 15 minutes. Turn off heat, open the oven door a crack, and let crullers sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Glaze and serve.


  1. these look amazing!!! i am pinning this!

    1. They taste amazing, too! Let me know how they turn out for you, Elizabeth!

      Laura, 3 Happy Eaters

  2. I just need all of these in my mouth. My breakfast is long gone. :(

    1. I hate it when that happens.

      Laura, 3 Happy Eaters

  3. This is one of my favorite types of doughnuts!! I never thought to find a recipe though! Very cool! I'll have to remember your post!!

    Ergo - Blog

    1. Me too Chloe! I was so exciting to find the recipe that I just had to make them. Good luck and let me know how they turn out! :)

      Laura, 3 Happy Eaters


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