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.
- 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.
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.