Ah yes, yet another variation of choux pastry, and probably my favorite one.
When I set out to post my recipe I was asking family and friends what they thought Churros were exactly. These were the most common notions:
- They're long cake-doughnuts
- They're really difficult to make
- They contain yeast
- They're Mexican
- They're difficult to shape
So. None of that is correct actually! Churros originated in Spain and are a common breakfast item over there. They're basically just long, piped, and fried eclair/cream puff dough (i.e. choux pastry), rolled in cinnamon sugar. The only difference is they contain much less egg. They can be shaped, however to be honest, if you're not particular they can go straight from the piping bag into hot oil at whatever length you prefer. Or if you're a bit OCD like me, you can pipe the mixture out on a tray, freeze and fry for a straight and even finish. They've come a long way and are now being hollowed out with a straw and stuffed with various fillings. Even piped onto a cone, or half sphere mould, and then fried only to be served with ice cream. Some popular dips are Dulce de Leche and Chocolate sauce, but I like mine plain and simple, warm straight out the frier tossed in some cinnamon sugar, there's something so very comforting about them. Here's my recipe:
Yield: About 25, 4-inch long churros
1 Vanilla Pod, split lengthways, beans scraped
114g White Bread Flour
Pinch of Sea Salt
Canola Oil for Frying
Cinnamon Sugar for tossing
Make the dough: Heat water, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium-size saucepan until simmering and butter has completely melted. Remove from heat and dump in flour all at once. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball and no floury bits are visible. Cook it out on the heat for another minute, stirring constantly with the spoon to make sure the bottom doesn't catch.
Dump the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and with the paddle attachment, crank it up to full speed until the bottom of the bowl is room temp. (You can beat it with a large whisk and strong arm, be warned though that the dough really likes to ride up the beaters of a handmixer, so keep it pushed down.) When the dough is cooled down add the egg mixture slowly while mixing.
Transfer churros to a pastry bag or strong gallon ziploc bag with a corner snipped off (I usually double up because the mixture is quite stiff and my pastry bag tends to explode on me), fitted with a large closed star tip (Don't chose a nozzle that's too large, that crunchy-ness comes easier when the churros is piped slightly slimmer). Pipe straight lines, about 4 inches long, onto a tray lined with a silicone mat or wax paper. And pop them in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up.
Cook the churros: Heat oven to 90 degrees C to keep churros warm while you fry them in batches. Line a large plate with a couple layers of paper towels. Have your cinnamon sugar ready in a large, shallow dish. Add oil to Dutch oven or cast iron skillet until it measures about 2 inches deep and heat over medium/medium-high heat to 190 degrees C. (Make sure you use a thermometer to continuously check the temperature, if it rises too high the churros will burn on the outside and if it dips too low the dough tends to absorb the oil and ends up spongy not crunchy.)
Gently drop a few churros at a time into the oil and fry until deep golden brown on all sides, which will take about 4 minutes. Turn them frequently so that they cook evenly. Once churros are cooked, remove from oil and drain on towels for a minute before transferring to a tray in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough.
Coat the churros: Once all churros are fried, combine cinnamon and sugar on a plate. Roll warm churros, one by one, in sugar to coat, spooning more cinnamon-sugar on as you do for best coverage. Tap off excess. Do not let warm churros sit in cinnamon sugar for longer than needed to coat or the sugar will get clumpy.
Do ahead: I always have churros sitting in my freezer for an emergency craving. All you need to do is fry them straight from the freezer! It's a total life savor!