I am a really competitive person. I am the eldest sibling after all. Once I realised my lack of athletic ability especially in comparison with my brother I developed myself towards a niche that was different so that I could still have a chance at winning.
I really dislike team sports. They were never my thing. Oddly enough though as soon as you but me in a team for not sports related activities I am all fired up and my eyes are set solely on the prize. When was the last time you saw an egg and spoon race taken way too seriously? Losing at board games is also not an option. Jack the bro and I make a killer dream team at Cranium and Articulate. Mainly because while we don’t want to admit it, our brains are pretty much on the same wavelength. He just needs to start a sentence and I have the answer. He could sculpt the most munted looking playdough blob and I would still be able to guess. This amazes and also disturbs me greatly. The competition against my parents gets heated. We stand up from our chairs, tension is high, Jack and I stare each other down trying to read the others mind. There was this one time that our dream lost a game of Articulate. We do not speak of this time. Ever.
The stresses I suffer during a competition that involves something I think I am good at are real. I get anxious. The alpha sibling instinct comes out. Losing is not an option. There is a very good reason why I don’t enter those TV baking or cooking shows. Losing in the public eye does not go well for me especially when so many of your friends and family hype you up. It's sort of like when those terrible people went on American Idol and you were like who the hell told you you could sing? Friends and family’s little white lies told them that’s who.
We had an inter floor Masterchef competition at work this week. My friend and colleague Nina and I represented level one. With both of us being keen foodies we had confidence going into this. For two days prior we scoured the internet for inspiration and ran through hypothetical game plans. For most this was just some light hearted work competition designed to engage the floors, for the both of us we knew our reputations amongst level one were depending on our performance.
In the heat of the moment we decided on beef soft shell tacos and churros with salted caramel sauce. We actually worked really well together. We didn’t kill each other. We danced around the tiny workspace without clashing or crashing. We decided that if we ever had to enter one of those sorts of competitions for real that we would be good team mates.
We finally found out on Friday who the winners were. The team names got mixed up so while we originally thought we came third equal we in fact came FIRST! Winning! ETERNAL CORPORATE GLORY WAS OURS!
We were stoked. Level one never wins anything. LIKE NEVER. We did a dance, I jumped up and down with a crazy person. We then proceeded to print off the email declaring our victory (in colour of course), laminate it and then stick it to the level one fridge for all to see! Or should I say LEVEL WON! Hehe
Considering I had never made churros before in my life I was surprised they turned out so well. After committing a recipe I found quickly online to memory I realised that churro dough is very similar if not the same to choux pastry.
Basically you boil the water and butter together, then add your dry ingredients to form a sticky paste. Cook the paste for a minute until it comes off the sides of the saucepan. One by one vigorously mix in eggs into the mixture until it forms a sticky, kind of fluffy batter. Make sure you beat the thick batter really well, I often employ the help of my stand mixer for this. Once it is smooth, transfer the mixture to a piping bag armed with a star tip nozzle then pipe straight lines into a saucepan full of hot oil. Once the churros puff up and turn a dark golden colour you then remove them, drain them lightly on a paper towel before plunging into a bowl of cinnamon and sugar to coat them. Dip these piping hot sugar sticks into chocolate sauce or salted caramel and you are good to go. They seriously couldn’t be easier.
Cinnamon Churros with Salted Caramel
Makes around 20 small churro sticks
For the churros:
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Oil for frying
For the Salted caramel:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Salt to taste
To make the caramel sauce, in a small to medium sized saucepan over a high heat, melt the sugar and continue to heat until it turns a rich amber in colour. Remove from the heat and gently pour in the cream whilst stirring. The caramel will bubble like crazy so be careful and keep stirring. Once all the cream has been added return to the heat to thicken it slightly and to darken if you feel like it isn't dark enough. Once the caramel has cooled to a lickable temperature, gradually add in the salt until it is to your saltisfaction.
To make the churros, take a medium sized saucepan and boil together the water and the butter so that the butter melts. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon and beat strongly with a wooden spoon over the heat until a thick dough forms that comes away from the sides. Remove from the heat and transfer the dough into a cake mixer with a paddle attachement. You can also do this next step by hand with a wooden spoon if you wish.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla one at a time until eat egg is fully incorporated and the dough gets progressively stickier and fluffier with each addition. After the last egg beat for another minute or so to remove any lumps and to make the batter extra smooth.
Heat 5cm deep of frying oil in a medium sized saucepan to 180 degrees Celsius (a candy thermometer is a handy thing to have). To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a small ball of batter into the oil, it should bubble fiercely almost immediately and float to the top. By the time the ball has turned a dark brown colour it should be cooked all the way through. If it isn't, turn down the oil a little.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Hold the bag over the saucepan of oil and pipe out 10cm strands of batter, I use a pair of scissors to cut my batter ribbons with. Fit as many as you can in the pan without the churros overlapping. Fry until they turn a dark golden brown. Transfer to a plate covered in paper towels to drain for a minute before tossing in the sugar mixed with the cinnamon. They are now ready to be dipped into caramel!