This week on the Great British Bake Off we were faced with, quite possibly, the weirdest challenge of all time – batter week. Yep, all the bakes this week involved various forms of batter, including filled Yorkshire puddings, weird lacy pancakes, and traditional Spanish churros.
I pretty much hate anything made from batter. The word ‘batter’ makes me cry inside. Yes – I even dislike British pancakes. I just about manage to force one down every year on Pancake Day, as long as it is absolutely dripping in lemon juice and heaped with sugar. So, I am opting for the churros.
I’ve never actually eaten a churro before, so I had very little context for how they should look, or what they should taste like. My experience with churros is limited to seeing a churro cart at Universal Studios, along with this week’s GBBO showstopper challenge. So hopefully I’ve got things right.
I am a bit sceptical as to whether churros are actually made from batter at all. The ‘batter’ for these guys is very thick, and feels much more like a choux pastry to me. But, I wouldn’t want to start an argument with Paul about it.
These churros are deep fried. There are recipes for baked ones out there on the webs, but I wanted to give myself a bit of a challenge – especially seeing as I’m about to cheat on next week’s pastry recipe! You don’t need a deep fat fryer to make these – as long as you have a large saucepan (and preferably a candy thermometer) then you can make these at home fairly easily. And it’s not as scary as I thought it would be. Don’t fear the massive pan of boiling hot oil. It’s your friend.
This churro dough itself is incredibly easy to make. Melt some butter, and mix it together with flour, water, and some vanilla extract. And that’s pretty much it. You won’t even need any electric mixer – a wooden spoon is all you need here.
To get the traditional ridges on your churros, you are going to need a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. I found it easier to pipe the churros onto a lined baking sheet, and pop them in the fridge for ten minutes whilst making the dipping sauce. You can just pipe the churros directly into the hot oil – but you will end up with curvier churros, and it is much harder to make them all the exact same length. And you know how Mary and Paul feel about inconsistency.
The little pot of sauce that I’m dipping my churros in is a really simple chocolate peanut butter creation, that can be thrown together whilst your churros are chilling in the fridge. Just grab a small saucepan, put it on a medium-low heat, and throw in some chocolate, cream, and syrup. You don’t even need to stir it – just leave it alone for ten minutes until the chocolate has melted, and then mix in a couple of tablespoons of smooth peanut butter. Done.
I feel like these Bake Off challenges are helping me to try out some recipes that I wouldn’t normally think of making, and pushing me out of my comfort zone. Who knows – maybe I’ll actually make the pastry for next week’s pastry challenge, instead of picking some up from Waitrose. Well, maybe not. I have got a birthday cake to bake after all.
- 350ml (1½ cups) boiling water
- 50g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250g (2 cups) plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 litre sunflower or vegetable oil for frying
- 100g (½ cup) caster sugar (US granulated sugar)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 50g (1/3 cup or 2oz) good quality milk chocolate
- ½ tablespoon golden syrup (or corn syrup)
- 80ml (1/3 cup) double or heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- Pour the boiling water and melted butter into a small bowl or measuring jug. Add the vanilla extract, and then give it a stir. Set aside.
- Put the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, and pour in the butter mixture. Immediately beat well with a wooden spoon, until all the flour has been incorporated and a sticky dough has formed.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or grease proof paper, and use a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle to pipe out 10cm long strips of the dough (or be as creative as you like!). Use a pair of scissors or a knife to cut the strips off when piping. Put the churros in the fridge whilst you make the chocolate peanut butter sauce (see below).
- Once the sauce has been made, find the biggest saucepan you own and fill a third of the way full with sunflower or vegetable oil. If possible, attach a candy or sugar thermometer to the side of the saucepan, as this will make controlling the heat of the oil much easier. Heat the oil on a high temperature until it reaches about 180°C (350°F) - see notes below. Whilst the oil is heating up, pour 100g of caster sugar onto a plate, and mix into it the cinnamon. This will be used to roll the cooked churros in.
- When the oil has reached the required temperature, gently place a couple of the churros into the pan. This will splash a bit, so be careful not to burn yourself. The churros should take between 4-5 minutes to cook, and are ready when they are a deep golden brown. Take them out of the oil using a slotted spoon, and dry them off using kitchen paper. Roll them in the cinnamon sugar as soon as possible, and then place on a plate while you fry the remaining churros.
- Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a small saucepan. Add the golden syrup and cream to the pan, and heat gently until the chocolate has melted, stirring very occasionally. Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the peanut butter until it has been fully incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Pour into a small dipping bowl and serve with the churros. Feel free to leave out the peanut butter if wanted - the sauce will still be great as chocolate flavour.
- If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can check that the oil is hot enough by putting a cube of bread into the oil and timing how long it takes to brown. It should take about 50 seconds when the oil is hot enough.
- The churros cannot be stored for long, and are best eaten straight after frying. You can keep them warm for up to half an hour by placing in a warm oven after frying.