I know, another post from the archives. Forgive me. I have my graduation walk tomorrow (just the walk, the actual walk and graduation is in late August, it's the only thing marring the event) for my Master's in English Composition and it's been a crazy week. Family is coming up and I've started teaching a cooking class at a local youth center. Stay with me, I promise some new posts soon. ~Garrett
So what started as what I thought was a brilliant idea to make churros turned into a science lesson / scarring session in the kitchen.
It was, in essence, a spectacular disaster. Rare form really. A bit of culinary destruction that you would applaud. Sure some people start grease fires or cut themselves, but few can cause a full on explosion with 400 degree oil and napalm Mexican sweet dough.
You see churros, while delicious, are apparently an epitome of various forms of science. Temperature gradients, surface area to volume ratios, heat exchange, and expanding mass. It's all very in depth. Sadly, Elise and I didn't know shit about any of it. Quite unfortunate, really.
So we set upon making our dough. The dough consists of basically salt water and flour which is then flash fried and rolled in sugar. Now, here's the thing about churros, they needs to have maximum surface area and minimum volume, this was the entire treat is crunchy and sweet and allows even heat distribution. In order to facilitate this, churros are piped from a pastry bag using an extreme star-tip, usually 3/8''. It allows for the most dough to come into contact with the oil.
Now, we had no star-tip and were unaware of it's vital importance. Instead we decided to simple use a large round tip for the pastry and start piping them out. No muss, no fuss.
Not so. This simple substitution would end up causing caustic consequences for us all.
The first batch of churros went fine, though the end product was a bit off. The outside of the churros had hardened into lightly browned, crisp shells of dough while the inside remained blazing hot, doughy, and steam filled. It took forever to cool as none of the heat trapped inside could escape through the hardened exterior.
As Elise's father scooped out the second batch to cool, we were all rocked by a sudden CRACK. We all jumped back and went silent. We looked at the plate of cooling churros. The air was still as we noticed the broken churro, it's contents now all over the counter.
Then the other churros exploded, we all took cover from the machine gun fire of steaming dough. It was like a scene from The Untouchables, I was Elliot Ness of the kitchen dodging whizzing bullets, ducking and covering my face and head, hearing only the rat-a-tat-tat of churro makings and fizzling pops of oil.
And just like that it was over. We all stared at each other. I chuckled a bit. Elise laughed. Her father roared. We began to crack jokes. I guess we now saw the importance of the star-tip. Ha ha! Such fun!
And then we remembered there was a third batch still in the oil.
We backed up. Not a moment later a large bang echoed through the kitchen. Hot dough and 400 degree oil screamed across the room.
Someone ducked in and threw the pot off the heat and removed the churros. Like before, just as suddenly as it occurred it finished.
We stood in shock for a minute. And we laughed. For 10 minutes we laughed. Elise escaped injury. I had ice on my face to cool the hot oil that had found my cheek. Her father, closest to the explosion, now has a nice scar on his arm. Still, we laughed. We joked. We ate what churros had successfully run the gambit. We nibbled the spent churro casings - spent shells whose innards were now plastered on all surfaces of the kitchen.
In the end it was educational and tasty. A good reminder of just how dangerous cooking can be. I myself have started many small fires before. Elise once melted her fridge due to one. And every home cook has a good scar from a knife or hot pan. Precautions must be taken. The science understood. The recipes clear. The substitutions safe.
We decided to abandon the churro recipe. It seems just so much safer and cheaper to buy them in the end. The entire kitchen had to be washed down with soapy water as oil slicked every square inch of surface. There was churro on the walls and ceiling for days, and from what I understand they keep finding bits of it adhered to various nooks and crannies that had been missed in the initial cleaning.