Recipe by Dinah Bucholz

Cryspels (Fried Dough)

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Dairy Dairy
Easy Easy
4 Servings
1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Those of you who follow my column may have noted the occasional references to ancient cookbooks. One of my favorites, The Forme of Cury (which means The Method of Cooking), comes to us from the fourteenth century and was written by the master chefs to King Richard II. This recipe is inspired by a recipe in the book. Of course, proportions are not given, and cooking methods have changed just a wee bit over the centuries, so the recipes are updated and modernized for today’s cook. Still, when you serve these to your kids, it will be pretty cool to tell them that King Richard of England ate the same dish over 700 years ago. (Or nerdy, depending on how you interpret life. Personally, I think it’s cool.)  

I couldn’t believe the medieval royalty of England has been sitting on this recipe for all these centuries. The instructions are typically brutal—well, it was a brutal time period. The master chefs advise taking a good pastry dough and rolling it out thin and then carving it up. Other recipes say things like “hew” into small pieces and “smite” in half. One has to wonder if the cooks wore armor and used their swords to prepare the king’s dishes.  

When I tested this recipe, I did not expect these bits of dough to puff up. They’re like very small doughnuts, and they’re delicious enough to eat on their own, without the recommended honey and custard.



  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, such as Glicks

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed


For Drizzling


Prepare the Dough


To make the dough, place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor, and pulse to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the dough and give a few quick pulses until the mixture forms a coarse yellow meal.


Turn the mixture into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle four tablespoons water on top, and fold with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add more water one tablespoon at a time.


Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to two days.

Prepare the Custard


Combine the milk, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until the mixture turns hot but not bubbling, about five minutes.


Whisk half a cup of the hot mixture into the egg yolks. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and bubbling, about five minutes.


Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature until ready to use (refrigerate if not using within a few hours, up to one week; then gently rewarm in a microwave).

Fry the Crypsels


Fill a saucepan with oil about one to two inches deep. Attach a thermometer to the side of the pot and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


While the oil is heating, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick, and cut out two-and-a-half-inch circles.


Fry the cryspels in batches until pale golden, one to two minutes per side (the cryspels will float to the top of the oil after a few seconds), while maintaining the oil at a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit to 370 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain the fried cryspels on paper towels. Do not reroll the scraps of dough, but you can cut them up and fry them as well.


To serve, place two tablespoons custard on a dessert plate. Pile six cryspels over the custard, and drizzle honey on top.


To check if the oil is hot enough without a thermometer, drop a piece of bread into the oil. It should bubble up immediately but not turn brown right away.


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Cryspels (Fried Dough)

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