Tuesday, January 12, 2010

{TWD} Mrs. Vogel's Scherben

I've never seen the appeal of fried dough. I've eaten beignets in New Orleans (and Atlanta) a few times, and found them pretty tasty (especially when they're hot), but ultimately nothing to swoon over. Most often I've run across fried dough in the form of funnel cakes sold at festivals and fairs. Invariably the weather is unbearably hot and very humid, and the aroma of hot grease hangs heavy on the air. Fried food is just not enticing to me under those conditions, but there are always people lined up at the funnel cake stand, so I'm clearly in the minority.

I've always wondered whether fried dough would be more appealing to me on a cold wintry day, and this week's Tuesdays With Dorie selection, Mrs. Vogel's Scherben, offered the perfect experimental conditions. This January has been extremely cold in many parts of the US, including here at The Dogs Eat the Crumbs headquarters. If ever frying food made sense, it would be this week. So I'm glad that Teanna, of Spork or Foon?, chose the recipe this week, keeping someone else from choosing it in the dead of summer.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- Wikipedia has a lengthy list of fried dough from all around the world, demonstrating the nearly universal appeal of this type of treat.

- I made 1/4 recipe of these cookies, which involved tiny amounts of some of the ingredients: 34 g flour, 4 g butter, 13 g egg, .4 g baking powder, .5 g sugar, .3 g salt

- After a 1 hour rest in the fridge, with the help of a floured countertop my dough easily rolled out paper-thin.

- The picture of these cookies in Dorie's book shows cute little ribbons of fried dough with crinkly edges. After seeing those edges I wasn't going to be satisfied with simple straight edges on my cookies. I don't have a fluted cutting wheel, or any kind of cutting wheel for that matter, but I do have round cutters with scalloped edges, so I used my smallest cutter to make fluted dough circles, then cut an "x" shape in the center.


- My justification for cutting my dough into circles? Dorie says that the scherben can be "any size, any shape."

- I wasn't sure how the dough would hold its shape in the frying process, but the cookies came out very well.

- The pan I used for frying was a very small, deep saucepan, and I poured in about 2 or 3 inches of canola oil.

- I have a simple candy/deep frying thermometer that clips to the side of the pan and was perfect for this job. I wondered how I could keep the oil at the specified 350 degrees. The answer is: I didn't. The oil warmed to 350 degrees and kept going. I turned the burner heat lower, but the oil remained about 375 degrees. It doesn't seem to have been a problem for my cookies.

- When the circles of dough hit the hot oil they puffed and blistered, then turned a lovely golden color - on both sides - in about a minute, perhaps less.

- To dispose of the hot oil in a hurry (I didn't want it in my kitchen for long), I poured it over a neglected area of overgrown underbrush in my back yard.

- Dorie says that one name for this type of cookie is "snowflakes" and I wish I'd used my snowflake cutters.


the verdict:

These cookies were definitely best soon after they were fried - they are light (well, in texture, if not in calories) and crispy. The cinnamon flavor was subtle and the powdered sugar really dressed them up. I'll have to say, however, that even the cold weather and homemade scherben didn't make me love fried dough; to me it tasted kind of "meh." My husband had some of the cookies for dessert several hours later, and really liked them even though by that time they had lost their crispness. It almost made me wish I'd waited to fry them until he was home from work (although that would have been hectic with dinner preparations, and would have entailed an indoor photograph)

I'm glad that I can move deep frying from "Never Done" to "Done That" status. Although the frying itself was a lot of fun, I'm not eager to repeat the deep frying experience. I didn't enjoy disposing of the oil, I really dislike the smell of hot frying oil in my kitchen, and I don't like fried dough - or indeed fried anything - enough to go through the bother.

Thanks, Teanna for choosing this recipe; I glad I finally have tried the deep frying technique. You can find the recipe on Spork or Foon? or on pages 157-159 of Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours.

24 comments:

Mary said...

They look really nice as circles--kind of snowflakey:) Good for you for getting rid of your oil--I filtered mine and it's in the fridge. I may fry something else, but more likely I'll throw it out when I need the space or the containers!

Leslie said...

Very pretty indeed, just like the lovely snowflakes you all have been seeing so much of this year! I'm glad we did this one but agree, frying is just not my thing.

mike said...

It's the confectioner's sugar - it make anything look frosty and "snow-lightful"! Love the circle shapes - mine were rather like postage, but tasted great. I once dumped oil on my herb garden during the winter - they thrived the following year - go figure!

Di said...

Those look very pretty--I like the idea of making them in circles. I like fried things and I'm sure I'd like these, but I just haven't had time to tackle them. (I'll be so happy when work gets back to normal.) =)

Kayte said...

I didn't have the fancy edge cutter either, but at my house, the guys would never notice something like that...they were eating them non-stop until they were gone. I love how you made circles with yours, so pretty. And, the thought of making those into snowflakes really sounds lovely. Happy that I got to make these with you, especially since it is probably the one and only time you are going to FRY something!

Teanna said...

Nancy you are the best! I love your explanation of your processes - and your math skills! Seriously, I get so impatient cutting down recipes! I LOVE their shape - and snowflakes are such a great idea! And thank you for that list on FRIED DOUGH! Haha! I love it!

Thanks for frying along with me this week!

Jessica said...

I love your circles! They're so elegant and adorable all at once. I liked these, and I liked making them, but I have no intention of making them again any time soon (don't tell Dudley), and I tossed my oil, too. It's nice to know that we can deep fry, but it's nicer to know that we don't have to, right?

natalia said...

Ciao ! The round shape is very cute !!

Sarah said...

I love the way you cut your little scherben! The circles are so lovely, just like snowflakes! I've never understood the appeal of things like funnel cake either, but I really loved these. They were so crunchy and surprisingly light, and not at all greasy. I almost forgot I was eating something that was deep-fried! Well, at least you have another kitchen technique conquered!

Clivia said...

Your circles puffed up beautifully. Great idea! I agree that quickly disposing of the oil is important if you don't want the kitchen to smell greasy.

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

They look good to me!
I don't mind the smell of the frying, but I have a friend who does hers outside.

chocolatechic said...

I didn't make these. They just didn't appeal to me, but I did post something fun.

Eliana said...

Your lil treats came out beautiful. What a lovely shape :)

Katrina said...

Hey, great minds--I made little circle puffs, too!
Yep, I can live without fried food. I didn't even LOVE these, but since they were there I kept eating them. Give me a cookie and I'll be satisfied! ;)

spike. said...

I'm relieved to see I was the only one feeling a little meh about these. The circles are so cute though!

Kim said...

I love the circles. So pretty. I wish I would have made 1/4 of the recipe. We had a lot left over that ended up in the trash. I thought these were just meh too. I love the pictures.

Pamela said...

Well, I love the shape you made them and they look beautiful, as does pretty much everything I see here. I skipped them though and made the quintuple chocolate brownies. Pretty tasty.

Karen said...

I love your little circles of dough! Very creative! Glad you made these even as a non lover of fried dough. :)

pinkstripes said...

I'm not a fan of funnel cakes, but I do love doughnuts.

I like the round shape of your scherben. And yay for frying!

Tracey said...

I love your circles - different and fun this week! I liked these a lot but I'm not a huge fan of frying (well, really just the smell) so these likely won't be a repeat here anytime soon. Glad that someone enjoyed them even if they weren't a hit for you.

Audrey said...

Your cookies look beautiful, meh or not! I found my grandmother's beloved (I think I mean my beloved grandmother's) chrusciki on the Wikip. list. I only tried making them once and mine were awful. But I miss them!! (Do these have whiskey in them? It helps...both the flavor and the cook!)
Happy New Year, Nancy!
Audrey

margot said...

Your scherben turned out lovely! It hadn't occurred to me how awful it would be to deep-fry in the summer; of course us bakers turn our ovens on a lot more in the summer than most people. Mine were not a success, so I feel like I have to deep-fry something else to check it off my list.

shortbreadsouth said...

Very cute! I don't have a fluted pastry wheel either and this is the third recipe I have wanted to make recently that uses one. Never needed one before. Put it on the list!

Jeannette said...

Personal experience: funnel cakes are best when eaten in February at the Rodeo in Texas ;) it's the perfect weather for wearing a long sleeve shirt, riding rides, then warming up with a funnel cake. perhaps a nice, fresh-off-the-grill turkey leg. yum yum!!

And here, Texans fry everything from pickles to oreos to bananas and everything in between!!

I will take a cue from you (IF I make these again) and cut them into circles.... because yours are simply beautiful!!