Sugarbird's Sweet Nothings

I am passionate about food. And cooking. And baking. And running. Come and find a new recipe, a funny story, some strong opinions and whatever else I feel like throwing in the mix today.
Published on February 5th, 2011
by Clarabella

Not nuts about dough

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 am actually months late in posting this entry. Truth be told, I wrote it when it was due, but due to some rather turbulent personal reasons I did not managed to finish it. Until now. I hate neglecting my blog, although it feels like I haev been away for ages. Which for the most part is pretty true. Heating up Innocent Veg pots does not count as cooking. My baking muscles are wasting away and I miss my kitchen. Among other things. Anyway, this is a food blog and I digress…

Now I am not a regular of the act of deep-frying. In fact I am quite averse to it as a concept and an act. The idea of submerging an unsuspecting food substance in hot oil and then consuming it, along with all the oil that clings to it once its been cooked, kind of makes my stomach turn slightly. When I look at this it does make me sound like a terrible food-snob. But I just don;t like deep frying. And the smell of hot oil that permeates the house afterwards, is also more than enough to put me off. But as this was an official DB challenge, and would certainly be challenging for me as I honestly don’t remember the last time that I deep fried ANYTHING before this, I was up for giving it a go.

Something went terribly wrong on the day of this challenge. The baking gods were certainly not on my side as the first lot of dough that I made did not rise AT ALL. And after making it and leaving it for a couple of hours, my challenge that started out early in the day with hours and hours to spare, went on a lot longer than anticipated. When I thought back on exactly what I had done with that first batch of dough, the only thing that I can think of is that when I mixed everything together in the mixing bowl, the yeast may have come into contact with the salt which would have killed it. So it was my bad for putting things into the bowl in the wrong order. Protect the yeast with the flour! The second batch was fine however and the only other glich I encountered was cutting the holes in the doughnuts. I do not have a small enough cookie cutter, so i ended up doing a rather haphazard job with the end of a funnel. Not that anyone would notice after they were cooked, but they were not quite the perfection I had been hoping for.

Once the oil was up to temperature (this challenge also managed to maim my sugar thermometer which now looks slightly burned on the inside and also water somehow gets into it when I wash it, RIP sugar thermometer, another one bites the dust *sigh*). It was not easy to keep the oil at a set temperature, possibly due to the unsensitive nature of my gas supply, but I monitored it closely at all times and tweaked where necessary. Although I am not a fan of frying I have to confess that there is something rather fun and strangely satisfying about gently dropping small, flat doughnut dough into the hot oil and watching it puff up and turn golden brown in a matter of seconds.


I had halved the recipe, being home alone with an entire batch of doughnuts could not be a good thing for my waistline. The chocolate glaze that I dipped them in when they were barely cool enough to handle was good enough to eat by itself, and gave the humble, plain doughnuts a more classy quality. If I were going to do a Nigella imitation I would say that the golden crispness of the fluffy dough pillows is a match made in heaven for the ebony richness of the divine chocolate glaze which hugs the top of each doughnut like a chocolate blanket that was made to measure. And the white and pink sprinkle decorations adorn the top of the chocolate coat like edible jewels that cry out to be gobbled up. If I could choose to be anyone (else) in the world I would probably pick Nigella. She is a beautiful, confident woman who has turned her intense passion for food and creating into a very successful career. She also has a family (imagine being Nigella’s son/daughter, what a food education you would grow up with!) and is able to spend her day sauntering through heavenly places full of food bliss, like Borough market in London, in search of the perfect ingredient for her newest creation. Anyway, I digress.

So my doughnuts turned out looking pretty and tasting – not too bad really. I did sample a couple of the little round balls drenched in their chocolate cloaks, before packing up the rest and unloading them on my unsuspecting neighbours. Doughnuts really need to be eaten the same day that they are made, if not within the same hour that they are made, to be at their best, so I could not justify keeping any of them in the house.

All in all it was a fun challenge, and certainly something that I never would have attempted out of my own volition, but I am glad that I gave it a go, and can now look forward to the next challenge. The next challenge that I will endeavour to post on time. I do hate being late.

Yeast Doughnuts:

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Ingredients
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + 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)

Directions:

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)

Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and 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 (for me this only took about two minutes). 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 (9 mm)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 (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven 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

Chocolate Doughnut Glaze

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk, warmed

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions

Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted.

Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted.

Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth.

Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.