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John Foust - Midwestern Crullers
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When I was growing up in Milwaukee, we called this a "cruller":
Image borrowed from Retro-Milwaukee until I make my own.
They're dense and cake-like. I remember dunking them in milk as a kid.
Here's some made by a local bakery. They're a little smaller than I think they should be:
Here's two from a great bakery in a nearby city - this variation, bent, cakey, not too dark, still pretty good:
These are more like it:
But I also liked what was called a "French egg doughnut" as well:
They are round and fluted, deep-fried, glazed in plain white icing or chocolate. They are made from pâte à choux, a splendid pastry dough made of cooked flour, butter, water and egg. No leavening! It rises through the action of steam.
It's the same dough used for the baked shell of a cream puff, a profiterole, or an eclair.
But wait! What's that doughnut in the upper right? A nearby Piggly Wiggly grocery claimed that it was also was a cruller. It is shaped like a boomerang. I'd never seen one like that before. It was somewhat cake-like but not the same taste as the Milwaukee cruller.
A fresh French egg doughnut is barely moist inside, very light and fluffy. They're also called crullers or French crullers in other parts of the United States.
They call it a "French cruller" at Dunkin' Donuts, for example.
I found a spectacular French egg doughnut at The Wedge Inn diner in Janesville, Wisconsin. Huge, delicious, freshly-made, eggy, and topped in glazes such as raspberry frosting, chocolate frosting, or a simple sugar glaze.
In the northeast and particularly Pennsylvania, they have an entirely different "cruller", a braided long doughnut. It's bready, leavened with yeast or baking powder.
At Krispy Kreme, they'll sell you one a more cake-like cruller but it's round and fluted like the French egg doughnut. Here's what it looks like:
They have crullers at Tim Horton's in Canada, too, eh.
In 2003, Dunkin' Donuts stopped making those crullers by hand because they were too labor-intensive. In short, they decided they weren't as profitable as the other machine-made doughnuts.
Kevin Wenzel (a.k.a. Prof. Bratwash) provides this photo of an eight-inch cruller he calls "Cruller-Zilla" from Camp's Northwoods Supervalu Family Market in St. Germain, Wisconsin. We gathered to eat a few and they were delicious: slightly cake-y, not too much glaze, and of course rather big.
Here's a French egg doughnut and a cruller made by Grebe's, a commercial baker in Milwaukee. Quite good!
At the Wisconsin State Fair in 2010, they sold a chocolate-dipped (Grebe's) cruller on a stick.
A Sheboygan cruller: not so big but round, very dark on the outside. Sheboygan is known for its unique food stylings such as the Sheboygan brat bun.
While this cruller was rather good, I had a French egg doughnut from the same bakery. Maybe I had a bad batch, but inside it was caked with the congealed frying fat, and it stuck to the roof of my mouth.
In the 1939 movie "The Wizard of Oz", just after Dorothy falls off the rail of the pig pen, Auntie Em brings the farm hands a plate of crullers.
A careful Zaprudering of the frames reveals the shape of the crullers...
Probably not Milwaukee crullers.
The Wikipedia page on crullers doesn't mention Milwaukee, but it mentions this page.