Monday, April 28, 2014

Baked Churros

One thing I haven't quite figured out for this blog is timing posts for the holidays. Getting holiday recipes tested, photographed and posted in time for all of you to make them for the current holiday. Time just gets away from me and the next thing I know, I'm posting a Thanksgiving pie recipe in December. Too late! So far this year I've missed it on Valentine's Day and Easter. OK, room for improvement, I know. When I saw this post for Baked Churros on Pinterest I decided to end my losing streak and author a timely post for Cinco de Mayo.

Aside from the fact that I'm a good week away from Cinco de Mayo and this recipe is fitting, I couldn't pass up the chance to make churros. I really love churros but I hate to fry food at home. Notice I didn't say I hate fried food, I said I hate frying food. Big dif. I love fried foods but they are just such a pain to make at home, so messy and too much clean up. So a baked version of the churro seemed doable. Really it's pretty much a choux paste like is used in a cream puff or eclair. It just doesn't expand quite as much but the technique is basically the same. Check it out. . .

For this recipe you're going to need some specialized equipment. It just doesn't work otherwise. You'll need: a rimmed 13"x18" baking sheet (1/2 sheet pan), a silicone pan liner OR parchment paper cut to fit the pan, a 1/2" star tip (Wilton 1M or Ateco #847) and a large pastry bag (I got these disposable ones at Amazon) OR you could use a large zip lock bag. 

The pantry stuff is pretty simple: a stick of unsalted butter, salt, AP flour, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon sugar. You'll also need cooking spray, which I forgot to show because I didn't think I'd be using it, you'll see why later.

Start by putting the butter, salt and some water in a medium saucepan.

Heat over medium high heat until the butter is melted and it comes to a full boil. Use a wooden spoon, it really is the best tool for this recipe.

When it comes to a full boil, remove from heat and add the flour all at once.

Stir vigorously until you have a thick paste that cleans the sides of the pan. Be careful at first that you don't splash the butter/water mixture, it's hot!

Now add the eggs, one at a time, and beat vigorously until combined. At first it will seem slimy like the egg isn't going to mix in, just keep going, stir until you no longer see any shiny dough.

Note: At first I used a whisk because the original recipe said to use a hand mixer and I was too lazy to dig mine out. I though a whisk and some elbow grease would substitute just fine. I was wrong, the dough was a bit stiff and it started to bend my whisk, so I just went back to the wooden spoon and beat the heck out of the dough/batter. The original recipe says to use a hand mixer or a stand mixer. You can go that route if you like but I found that a wooden spoon worked just fine. Plus, again, I'm lazy and the fewer dishes I have to wash, the better.

Once you've got the eggs fully incorporated and there aren't any shiny spots, add the vanilla and beat that in well.

Fit the pastry bag (reusable, disposable, or a zip lock, doesn't matter) with the star tip and load in the dough.

Pipe long "sticks" of dough the length of the pan (10-11 inches) leaving about 1-inch between sticks. You should be able to get 8-9 sticks on the pan, about 1/2 the dough, so you'll need to bake these in two batches. 

Bake them in a preheated 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. It is really essential that you cook until golden brown all over, not just the ridges like the picture above. These are actually a bit under done and I'll explain why later. Cook until the whole churro is golden brown. If you're not sure then cook them a little longer. There is enough moisture in the dough so you really can't overcook them, unless, of course, you burn them.

Remove the pan from the oven and lightly mist the churros with cooking spray. Use a neutral oil spray like vegetable oil (don't use an "olive oil" spray as it will give them a funny taste.) Then sprinkle all over with cinnamon sugar. Shake off the excess. I like to do this on a sheet of parchment paper so I can just funnel the excess cinnamon sugar back into the jar. Makes it easy.

Now enjoy. These are crispy and light and about as close as you can come to an authentic churro without busting out the deep fryer. Between the four of us, we gobbled up the first batch in less than an hour. A winner with the whole fam. I'll definitely be making these again, Cinco de Mayo or not.

A couple of notes: 
1. On my first batch, I thought I could skip the cooking spray, assuming that there was enough butter and moisture in the batter to get the cinnamon sugar to stick. Some does stick but you really need the light mist of cooking spray to get that thicker cinnamon sugar dusting like an authentic churro. I wouldn't suggest skipping the spray.

2. You really need to cook these until they are golden brown all over. On my first batch I cooked them for 20 minutes until the ridges were starting to brown. When they cooled, they kind of sunk in the middle and were not that crispy. This is a pretty moist dough. You really need to set the outside "shell" for them to keep their shape. My second batch I let cook for 25 minutes until they were brown all over. This worked MUCH better. The outside was really crispy but the inside was still tender and they held their shape. 

Baked Churros
Yield: 16 churros

1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 t. salt
1 C. water
1 C. all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla

1/4 C. granulated sugar
1 T. cinnamon sugar
neutral flavored cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a rimmed 13x18 baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. 
In a small bowl, mix granulated sugar with cinnamon and set aside.
In a medium saucepan combine the butter, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Remove from heat, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Mixture will thicken and clean the sides of the pan with no visible lumps of flour. Beat in eggs, one egg at a time, mixing well before adding another. After adding each egg, the mixture will become wet and glossy, but after beating for a few seconds it will thicken again. When all the eggs are are combined and there are no shiny spots of dough, add the vanilla. The dough will be thick and starchy. Spoon the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip. Pipe the dough out onto lined cookie sheet in  10-inch rows with at least 1 inch between each churro. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown all over, and when a toothpick comes out clean. Spray churros lightly with cooking spray, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Turning to coat all sides well.

No comments:

Post a Comment