When fall hits I get the urge to start baking yeasty, decadent treats. This year is no different, except for the fact that it seems like those crafty folks over at The Daring Kitchen were on the same wavelength as me. That’s right… Drum roll please… Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to another Daring Bakers challenge! My third, in fact. My, my, how times flies when one is having fun in the kitchen.
The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Mmm, donuts. Little fluffy pillows of deep-fried delicious, just waiting to be filled, dipped, or dunked. Maybe it’s the Native American roots coming through (I love me some fry bread), but I cannot resist anything that has been bathed in hot oil. I have made donuts before, as a child, with my mother. Every once in a great while she would break out a recipe from Fanny Farmer and we would spent the morning measuring, mixing, and frying. Oh, and eating. Don’t forget the eating part. We would sprinkle the hot donuts with cinnamon sugar, and I would usually burn my fingers in my eagerness to gobble one or two or five of them up while they were still piping hot.
I particularly enjoyed the recipe that Lori provided because of one ingredient: Nutmeg. Aromatic, exotic, comforting… nutmeg is all this and more. It is that hint of “Hmm, what is that?” in any recipe that it graces, and used in moderation is a delicious touch to baked goods of all kinds, white sauces, fondue, even mashed potatoes. Now you know my secret ingredient.
After I had made these donuts I dreamed about them. I am not kidding. I could taste them if I closed my eyes… the soft, sweet smell of the yeast wafting through my kitchen, the kiss of spice and sugar on my lips. They are divine when warm, and pretty darn good a day or two later (not that they’ll last that long). I did mine three ways: Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Sugar, Jelly Filled, and Boston Crème.
Deep frying is actually quite simple, but a few precautions: make sure everything is ready to go before your heat your oil, make sure your oil is at the correct temperature so that your donuts come out crispy and not greasy, and use a slotted spoon to lower the uncooked donut into the hot oil. That will reduce the likelihood of hot oil splashing you, especially if you turn the spoon away from you while dropping the dough.
I have to brag a little and say that I was a supremely good girl and froze a dozen of them for another day, when I will warm them in the oven at 250° until heated through, and then swathe them with maple glaze… or powdered sugar… or vanilla icing and sprinkles, if I’m feeling playful.
Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
Rising time – 1.5 hours total
Cooking time – 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size
- Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
- Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
- Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.)
- Warm Water 1/3 cup (95°F to 105°F)
- Eggs, Large, beaten 2
- White Granulated Sugar 1/4 cup
- Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon
- Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp.
- All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup + extra for dusting surface
- Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
- Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until steaming. Add the shortening and whisk until melted and well combined (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.) Set aside.
- In bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
- Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
- Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
- Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (you may have to add more flour). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
- Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
- Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass. using a 7/8-inch ring for the center hole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oil in a stock pot or deep fryer to 365 °F/185°C.
- Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
- Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.
For Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Sugar Donuts:
Combine ½ c. of granulated sugar with ½ tsp. (or more) of cinnamon in a wide, shallow dish. Roll donuts in the sugar mixture to cover while they are still slightly warm.
For Jelly Filled Donuts:
- Dip the top of an un-holey donut in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, allow to cool completely.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip with your jelly of preference (grape and raspberry are good choices J).
- Holding the donut in one hand, insert the tip of the pastry bag into the donut as far as it will go. Squeeze gently, until the donut feels heavy and you can see a bit of jelly coming out.
For Boston Crème Donuts:
- Allow donuts to cool completely.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip with your choice of vanilla cream. You can make your own custard, but I used Swiss Miss Vanilla Pudding Cups (2).
- Holding the donut in one hand, insert the tip of the pastry bag into the donut as far as it will go. Squeeze gently, until the donut feels heavy and you can see a bit of crème coming out.
- Frost with your favorite chocolate icing or glaze.