Last Autumn, summer had just let go of its hold on nature and cooler winds, fog and bit or mild rain wet my appetite for making something warm, a bit crunchy and utterly delicious for my afternoon tea.
Days were getting shorter and I found myself more often than not, lighting the fireplace and dreaming up recipes for when I had more time to get baking in the kitchen, not for a shoot, but just for me.
To fill my cottage kitchen with the sweet aromas of Vanilla and Orange blossom, blended ever so gently with the sultry perfume of my favourite blend of black tea.
But Autumn turned to Winter, and before I knew it, I found myself in a brand new year...
Oh, how fast time flies...sometimes a day is over before I even knew it had properly begun, and the little things I promised myself id do, eat, read, write or see gets puts aside for more important tasks or simply forgotten about in the hustle and bustle of our fast paced days.
So, as this year is slowly getting up to speed, allow me to take you back to those soft and colourful days of Autumn, when gentle drizzle made my hair curl ever so slightly around my face and my cheeks had happy roses from the seasonal change that filled me with so much excitement I got all giddy.
One fine September day, we took a wee detour one afternoon and explored the most beautiful garden in our backyard.
The sun played with soft curtains of shy haze, and every now and then made the landscape bask in gold.
Wet grass, moss, wilted flowers against a perfect backdrop of old school garden glamour greeted us along the way as we wandered slowly on little pathways around the majestic Stour Head gardens.
Autumn is perhaps my favourite season, so even if the temperatures have dropped outside and winter is upon us here in England, I´m re living a bit of Autumn days in my cottage, as I finally took time to bake those crunchy French little treats that need not much more than to be accompanied by a warm cup of tea.
But because I like to frequently indulge a bit as the clock enters the hours of the afternoon,
I´ve included a recipe for a fresh little dip or glaze to add even more treat factor to the ritual of having a treat with my tea, almost every day...
...because let´s face it, January needs a bit of help to see us through its cold and grey days, and reliving those beautiful Autumn days might just do the trick...
French Vanilla and orange blossom crullers
1 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons powdered (confectioners) sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Orange Blossom (it's a very subtle flavor note)
½ Vanilla essence
1 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 - 2 large egg white
In a heavy bottom nonstick sauce pan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a brisk boil. Then quickly add the Orange Blossom and vanilla essence and blend well.
Immediately after as add in the flour and whisk until it's completely incorporated.
Keep stirring over the heat, but keep it at a low. Remove as much moisture as possible for a fluffier pastry later on. I did this for about 5 minutes. Then, transfer the dough to the bowl of an electric hand mixer.
Carefully add one egg at a time.
Don't add the next egg until the first one is completely mixed. Repeat the process with the remaining egg.
Then add one egg white and blend until the dough becomes smooth and glossy, if it's not getting smooth and glossy, add the other egg white. but only if the one egg white is not enough, and the batter doesn't turn glossy.
Transfer the dough to a large pastry bag with a star tip.
Preheat your oil to 370 degrees in a deep saucepan. To test if the heat is right, simply pipe in a little dollop of the mixture and see it turn golden i minutes with a bit of a hiss around its edges.
Cut about 16 little squares out of parchment paper, melt a wee bit of butter and brush the parchment paper with it for the batter not to stick.
Then simply pipe a ring of dough onto each square.
Now to be fair, I didn't really do this, I simply piped in a little twirl of the mixture straight into the hot oil.
This works just as well, but for a more refined look, I suggest you do the remade circles on the parchment paper trick and place
cruller and paper into hot oil, paper side up!
The paper will automatically separate from the oil, and the cruller will float on the hot oil, so no worries there.
Flip cruller once after 2-3 minutes, and fry until light brown. the crullers will darken a bit post taking them out of the oil, so make sure you don't leave them in too long.
Cool the little delights on a wire rack.
These French cruller delights are simply delicious on their own, but with an easy twist of the hand, adding a few lovely and sweet ingredients, you can create a great dip that adds the final little ompf to this dessert snack.
I made a lemon and honey dip, but withholding a bit on the liquid front will make the below recipe into a more dense glaze that you can dip your crullers into and serve looking all pretty and delicious.
Let´s face it, I simply didn't have the patience, and hence filling up a shot glass with the mixture, dipping the crullers in between sipping to my tea.
Honey and Lemon Glaze:
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ tea spoon lemon peel
1 ½ cups powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons honey
3 - 4 tablespoons milk
PS: Be careful not to make your dip too thin, so hold back on the milk, carefully mixing in one table spoon at the time.
Combine all the honey and lemon glaze ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
Takes about a minute.
When the crullers have cooled, dip each top half of the cruller into the glaze.
Let glaze harden with a cookie sheet under the wire rack to catch the drippings which saves you cleaning up a bit of mess later.
If you want a thicker place simply re dip when the first layer has called and hardened.
Now I must admit, these little tasty things taste best of the day they are made, but they can keep for up to three days, but lets face it, thats never going to happen as they´ll be gone in a flash, trust me...
This delicious recipe is adapted from Little Spicejar´s version.