Unlike classic donuts, these French cruller donuts are made with a pastry dough rather than a yeast dough. You will love the extra light and airy feel of these delicious donuts!
One thing that surprised me during my last visit to Paris was how much the French love donuts. I always thought of donuts as something very American.
I saw donuts in the boulangerie, in the street markets, at the grocery store…they were everywhere. I will say this, however, donuts are not necessarily a “breakfast” food in France. I saw people purchasing them to enjoy with their afternoon cup of coffee or as a special dessert to enjoy later in the evening.
When you think about it, it makes sense as donuts are usually very sweet and truly more of a dessert than an appropriate breakfast.
Ironically, these French cruller donuts that I’m sharing today aren’t really French. I believe they’re actually a Dutch creation, so I have no idea why they’re called French.
What I do know is that these beauties are made with pate a choux, a no-yeast pastry dough that is often used for pastries like cream puffs and éclairs.
That makes these donuts extra light and fluffy, and they’re actually not very sweet on their own as a result.
Instead, to give them that sweetness and decadence we come to expect with dessert, a simple sugar glaze is brushed on the donuts before they’re dusted with powdered sugar for a finish.
The fact that the dough for these French cruller donuts requires no yeast also makes this really simple to whip up.
Using a pastry bag and star tip to pipe the dough out into rings gives the donuts that fluted appearance.
Just a note, because the pastry dough is impossible to transfer from one surface into the oil, it’s important to pipe the dough onto small squares of parchment paper. You can then directly drop the dough with the parchment paper into the oil, and after a few seconds, grab onto the edge of the parchment paper and pull it out.
While these French cruller donuts are not French, the pate a choux base makes them French enough for me, so I am totally happy devouring these airy donuts today for National Donut Day!
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 c water
- 1 c all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 2 cups of canola, grape seed, or peanut oil
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp to 2 milk
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- Cut a large sheet of parchment paper into twelve 3-inch squares; set aside. Add the unsalted butter, granulated sugar, salt, and water to a saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture has come to a boil, add in the all-purpose flour and stir over low heat. Continue stirring until none of the dough sticks to the pan and the moisture in the dough has been removed - about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Transfer the dough from the saucepan to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir the dough on low speed for 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, one a time, mixing on low speed after each addition so that each egg is thoroughly incorporated. Then, add in the egg whites and mix again to combine.
- Scoop the pastry dough into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the dough in a ring shape, overlapping the ring once (so you should have two layers of pastry dough stacked on each other), onto the individual squares of parchment paper.
- Heat a medium pot over medium heat with oil until the oil reaches 350°F. Slide in 2 to 3 of the pastry dough rings, with the parchment paper, into the pot of oil. After a few seconds, you will be able to use a tong to grab hold of the edges of the parchment paper and separate them from the rings. Fry each donut for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side, or until they're golden brown.
- Move the fried donuts to a paper towel lined wire rack to rest and lose some of the excess oil. Once they're slightly warm and no longer hot, brush them with the glaze using a pastry brush. To create the glaze, simply whisk the powdered sugar with the milk and vanilla extract until you have an icing that’s a little bit thinner than the consistency of maple syrup. Let the glaze set for a few minutes before dusting with powdered sugar.