Skip a trip to the donut shop with these homemade French crullers!
Maple Cruller Doughnuts
There are yeast doughnuts. There are cake doughnuts. And then, there are French crullers.
Crullers have the same airy qualities as yeast doughnuts without the use of yeast!
Instead, these doughnuts rely on pâte à choux for texture.
What is pate a choux?
Pâte à choux is produced “pat-ah-shoe.” It is a French pastry dough that is cooked twice: first over the stove and then oven baked.
How to make pate a choux?
Pâte à choux dough starts off by bringing milk (or water), butter, sugar, and salt to a boil. Flour is added and stirred in.
The mixture will start off lumpy with chunks of dry flour mixture. With constant stirring (preferably with a wooden spoon or sturdy silicon spatula) the dough will get smoother as it cooks over the heat.
Eventually, the dough forms into a cohesive ball. Once the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot, it is ready for the next step.
At this stage, the dough will be very hot. Transfer the dough to the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat the dough until it has cooled to room temperature. Do not be alarmed when the dough starts to steam. This is normal.
*I prefer to use a stand mixer because it’s MUCH easier. This CAN be done by hand. However, it requires a lot of labor and it’ll be quite an arm workout.
The eggs are mixed in one at a time once the dough has cooled down. The addition of the eggs will loosen the dough. The dough will break apart and look curdled. Once again, totally normal.
Don’t worry and keep mixing. The dough will eventually turn into a smooth, shiny, and thick paste.
Choux Paste V Test:
After mixing the dough to a smooth paste, check it’s consistency using the “V test.” Dip the paddle attachment into the dough. Lift it up and allow the excess dough to fall from the paddle.
The dough left on the paddle should create a V shape. A wooden spoon or spatula can also be used for this test.
If the V shape is not achieved, continue to beat the dough for another minute or two. Then, try again.
*I learned about this “testing” technique in culinary school. The recipes we were taught had very minimal instructions. Instead, we were to trained to focus on visual clues.
The prepared pâte à choux dough rests in the fridge for about 30 minutes to cool down and stiffen up. This step is not required, but it does facilitate easier piping.
While the dough is chilling, cut eight 4-inch parchment squares. Brush both sides of the parchment squares with vegetable oil. Arranged oiled squares on a large baking sheet.
How to pipe cruller doughnuts:
The chilled dough is transferred to a pastry bag (piping bag) fitted with a 16 mm star tip.
I have a generic unbranded star tip. The 16mm size translates to this Ateco #828 open star tip (0.63″ diameter).
Pipe a large circle within the space of the 4-inch parchment square.
Apply even pressure when piping the circle. At the end, simply release pressure and pull the tip away following the shape of the circle. Don’t worry about the little overlap.
How to achieve the distinct cruller shape
Temperature! Temperature is very important in achieving the desired cruller ridges, as well as a nice fluffy interior.
The temperature of the cruller dough and the temperature of the fryer oil matter.
After piping the dough, allow the crullers to chill in the freezer while the frying oil heats up. During this time, the dough will form a semi-hard outer layer skin.
It it vital to use a candy or deep fry thermometer in order to keep the frying temperature constant. The oil temperature will fluctuate as doughnuts are added to the pan.
Incorrect Fryer Oil Temperature Problems:
360 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) is the optimal temperature to fry these homemade French crullers.
If the oil is too low, the doughnuts will color, nor will the doughnuts expand. The resulting doughnut will very oily.
If the oil is too hot, the doughnut will brown too fast. The doughnut may expand too fast causing the doughnut to deflate and collapse once removed from the oil.
Doughnut Glaze Options:
The fried dough itself has no flavor, other than butter and sugar. It is a blank canvas.
To add flavor, dip the fried cruller into your choice of glaze: vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, etc.
Maple glaze is my favorite! The glaze photographed here may not look like the golden tan maple glaze you may associate with at donut shops. Food coloring is necessary to achieve that rich hue.
For this maple glaze, I used a combination of dark maple syrup, vanilla extract, and maple flavoring extract. The maple extract helps to intensify the maple notes.
I recommend this maple extract from Boyajian (sold at King Arthur Flour and Williams-Sonoma). Stay away from anything labeled “imitation” maple extract.
What’s the difference between homemade crullers and donut shop French crullers?
The homemade version is more delicate. The interior is fluffy and airy.
Whereas, the store-bought version usually has a bit more of a chew. Most donut shops use a premade donut mix instead of creating a pâte à choux from scratch.
Most homemade donuts are best eaten the same day they are fried. However, these maple crullers will still taste great the following day! They will firm up a little, but the flavors will have had more time to develop. We continued eating leftovers two days past frying.
Maple Glazed Crullers
These homemade French cruller doughnuts are dipped in a sweet maple glaze. The doughnuts are light, fluffy, and airy!
- 1 cup (227 g) milk, low fat, 2%, or whole
- 1/2 cup (114 g) unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon (13 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup (130 g) bread flour, or all-purpose flour
- 3 (147 g) large eggs
- 1 (35 g) large egg white
- oil for frying, as needed
- 1 1/2 cup (175 g) confectioners' sugar
- pinch kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup, or glucose
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon maple extract*
- 2 Tablespoon dark maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoon hot water
In a medium sauce pot, combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil. Add flour and stir to combine using a wooden spoon or sturdy silicone spatula. Continue to heat and bring to a boil as you continually stir dough. Keep stirring until dough pulls away from the sides of the sauce pot. At this point the dough should be smooth.
Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until the dough has cooled to room temperature. (Do not be alarmed when the dough steams!)
When the dough has cooled, add eggs one a time on low speed. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg. As you add the eggs, the dough will separate. This is normal. Scrape down bowl as needed to ensure thorough mixing. The batter will loosen and look curdled at first. Continue to beat until dough is cohesive, shiny, smooth, and thick.
Transfer dough to an airtight container and let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Cut out eight 4-inch square parchment sheets. Brush both sides of parchment squares with vegetable oil. Arrange oiled squares on a large baking sheet.
Transfer chilled dough to a pastry bag (piping bag) fitted with a 16mm star tip. Pipe a large circle within the space of the parchment square. Apply even pressure when piping out the circle. At the end, simply release all pressure and pull the tip in the direction of the circle to cut dough. Don't worry about a little dough overlap.
Once all the cruller rings have been piped, place baking sheet in the freezer for 10-15 minutes while oil is heating. Do not cover dough. Simply place in freezer as is.
Attach candy thermometer to a large heavy bottomed pot (cast-iron or Dutch oven, preferred). Fill pot with 3-inches of oil*. Set over medium heat until an oil temperature of 360 degrees F is achieved.
Remove cruller rings from freezer. Carefully place 2-3 cruller rings into the hot oil. Place the crullers into the oil upside down, with the parchment side up and the piped doughnut down.
Cook for 2 minutes and 30 seconds on the first side. Use kitchen tongs or kitchen chopsticks to carefully remove the parchment paper. Turn doughnuts over and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn doughnuts once more and cook for 45-60 seconds until golden in color.
NOTE: Keep an eye on the thermometer and adjust heat as needed to maintain a constant cooking temperature.
Drain cooked doughnuts on a wire rack over a paper towel lined baking sheet.
Sift confectioners sugar into a medium bowl. Stir in salt, corn syrup, vanilla, maple extract, and maple syrup. Once mixture is well combined, add in hot water. Mix until smooth.
Dip slightly cooled doughnuts into glaze. Allow excess glaze to drip back into bowl. Set glazed doughnuts on wire rack and allow glaze to set. Enjoy doughnuts warm or at room temperature.
*Choose a neutral flavored oil with a high smoking temperature. I suggest using vegetable oil or this vegetable shortening.
I recommend this maple extract from Boyajian (sold at King Flour Flour). Stay away from anything labeled “imitation” maple extract.
A word on leftovers: Doughnuts are best enjoyed the day they are fried. Store any leftover doughnuts in a breathable box (like a cardboard bakery box or container with the lid slightly jar). The maple glaze needs air circulation, otherwise it will melt and make the crullers soggy.