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How to make the Youtiao: A Delectable Chinese Donut

Title: The Youtiao: A Delectable Chinese Donut You Can Make At Home
The Youtiao (油条), also known as Chinese donut, is a beloved breakfast staple in China and other parts of Asia. This delectable, deep-fried dough stick is characterized by its golden brown color, light and airy texture, and a mild yet savory taste. Served alongside a warm cup of soy milk or congee, Youtiao is the perfect way to start your day.
Many people may feel intimidated by the idea of making Youtiao at home, but don't worry. We're here to guide you through the process, step by step. With a little practice, you'll be able to create delicious Youtiao from scratch and impress your family and friends.
• 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon (2g) baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon (2g) baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon (1g) salt
• 1 teaspoon (4g) sugar
• 2/3 cup (160ml) water
• 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil, plus more for deep frying
• 1/2 teaspoon (2g) alum (optional)
1. Combine the dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. If using alum, add it to the mixture. Alum is used to create a crispier texture in the Youtiao, but it can be omitted if unavailable.
2. Add wet ingredients: Slowly pour the water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into the dry ingredients, mixing as you go. Continue to mix until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it's too dry, add a bit more water.
3. Knead the dough: On a clean and lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until it becomes smooth and elastic. This step is crucial to achieving the desired texture for your Youtiao.
4. Rest the dough: Place the kneaded dough back into the mixing bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rest for 30 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax and makes the dough easier to work with.
5. Shape the Youtiao: Divide the dough into two equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion into a long, flat rectangle about 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) thick. Cut each rectangle into 1-inch (2.5 cm) wide strips, yielding approximately 10-12 strips in total.
6. Create the Youtiao twists: Take two strips of dough and gently stretch them to lengthen. Place one strip on top of the other, and use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to press down the center, connecting the two strips. Twist the ends of the strips in opposite directions to create the characteristic Youtiao shape. Repeat this process for the remaining dough strips.
7. Second resting period: Place the shaped Youtiao on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with a damp cloth, and let them rest for another 30 minutes. This helps them puff up and become airy during frying.
Frying the Youtiao
1. Heat the oil: Fill a deep frying pan or wok with enough vegetable oil to submerge the Youtiao fully, approximately 2-3 inches (5-7 cm) deep. Heat the oil to 375°F (190°C). Use a thermometer to ensure the correct temperature is reached, as maintaining a consistent temperature is essential for evenly cooked Youtiao.
2. Fry the Youtiao: Carefully lower the shaped Youtiao into the hot oil, one or two at a time, depending on the size of your frying pan or wok. Be cautious when placing the dough in the oil to avoid splashing.
3. Cook until golden brown: Using a slotted spoon or a pair of chopsticks, flip the Youtiao occasionally to ensure they cook evenly on both sides. Fry the Youtiao for about 2-3 minutes or until they turn golden brown and puff up.
4. Remove and drain: Use a slotted spoon or a wire mesh strainer to carefully remove the cooked Youtiao from the hot oil. Place them on a paper towel-lined plate or a wire rack to drain excess oil.
5. Maintain oil temperature: Before frying the next batch of Youtiao, ensure the oil returns to 375°F (190°C). This helps maintain a consistent frying temperature and prevents the Youtiao from becoming greasy or undercooked.
6. Serve and enjoy: Youtiao is best enjoyed fresh and warm. Serve them alongside a cup of hot soy milk, a bowl of congee, or with your favorite dipping sauce. They also taste great with sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top.
Tips and Tricks
1. Be patient: Youtiao requires two resting periods for the dough, which are crucial for achieving a light and airy texture. Do not skip these steps or rush through them.
2. Practice makes perfect: Shaping the Youtiao can be a bit tricky at first. Don't be discouraged if your first attempts don't turn out perfectly. With practice, you'll get the hang of it.
3. Monitor oil temperature: Maintaining a consistent oil temperature is essential for even cooking and to prevent greasiness. Use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature, and adjust the heat accordingly.
4. Use caution when frying: Hot oil can cause burns if not handled carefully. Make sure to use the proper tools, such as a slotted spoon or wire mesh strainer, to safely handle the Youtiao during frying.
The Youtiao, or Chinese donut, is a delicious and versatile breakfast staple that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. By following these step-by-step instructions and practicing patience and care, you'll be able to create perfectly golden, light, and airy Youtiao right in your own kitchen. So go ahead and give this recipe a try, and experience the delightful taste of homemade Youtiao.