Friday, September 26, 2014

Doughnuts - Both Baked and Fried

Oh, what fun it is to bake with good flour! I've been wanting to try my hand at doughnuts for a good long while now, and a challenge from Bob's Red Mill created the perfect opportunity. On a cool-ish afternoon, I fried my very first doughnuts. I produced excellent cinnamon twists with a tender crumb, and found them excellent, as long as they were eaten the same day. Just like bakery doughnuts, the day-old ones just aren't as good.

A few days later, influenced by Joy Wilson at, I made a batch of baked doughnuts. I worried at first that they'd be a pale imitation of "real" doughnuts, but I found that they have a rich flavor and are much, much simpler (and quicker.) Family and friends who tried both types agree that the baked version is excellent - so long as they are glazed, which hides the pale puffy tops of a baked version.

I've decided that for me, frying doughnuts is just too much fuss and bother, and figuring out what to do with the 2 quarts of used oil presents another problem as well. We're looking forward to more baked doughnuts, and I'm sure to try pumpkin doughnuts this fall.

Doughnuts - Both Baked and Fried
by Maurita 

Fried Cinnamon Twist Doughnuts
Adapted from Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts:

Makes 6-8 doughnuts

1/2 cup warm water (around 105°F)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar (proofing) + 1/4 cup (dough) + 1/2 cup (coating at the end)
1 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour, sifted
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lots of canola oil for frying - enough to fill your pot 2" deep

Pour 1/2 cup of very warm or hot water into the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Dissolve the 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar in the hot water, pop in your thermometer and let it cool to about 105˚F while you gather wet and dry ingredients.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl: 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, mace, cinnamon, salt, and flour. Whisk it all together to aerate it well. If you prefer, sift it together.

When the temperature of your hot water and sugar mixture is close to 105˚F, spoon the yeast into the mixer bowl and stir it a bit to combine. Let it stand and proof for 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, the yeast should be bubbling. Add in the cubed butter, egg, and vanilla extract, and mix on low speed until the butter breaks up. This should take about a minute.

Then add the dry ingredients, a cup at a time. After about half of the dry ingredients, if your paddle is getting clogged, switch to the dough hook and add the rest of the dry ingredients, a bit at a time. Continue working the dough with the dough hook for about 2 minutes until the dough comes together and picks up all of the little crumbs at the bottom.

At this point, you can let the dough rest, up to 2 hours. Don't let it rest too long or else the dough will develop a yeasty, beery taste. If you are ready to proceed, shape the dough. Roll the dough to 1/2" thick and cut the dough into 6 strips. Roll each strip into a long snake, then twist the two ends in opposite directions. Hold up the ends, press them together, and let the strip form into a natural twist. Lay each twist flat on a floured cookie sheet at least 2" apart.

Construct a proofing chamber in your oven by placing a 9”x 13” roasting pan on the bottom rack. Pour boiling water into it to fill it to about half way. Put the pan of doughnuts on the top rack, uncovered, and let them rise for 45 minutes.

While the dough rises, heat the oil. You will want to use a big pot that it at least 5 inches deep (I used a 6-quart Dutch oven.) Fill it 2” deep with canola oil, and set over medium heat. Put a suitable thermometer in the pan of oil, and let the oil heat to 350˚F. This will actually be ready just about the time that the dough is finished with its rise.

Be careful with frying: Avoid splashing! Use a metal spatula to transfer the doughnuts from the floured cookie sheet into the oil. The frying time goes quickly - about 45 seconds on each side. (Laura Ingalls Wilder was wrong: Twisted doughnuts do NOT turn themselves over. You have to nudge them with a spoon. But it's not hard to do that.)

Let the doughnuts drain on a rack set over absorbent paper.

When all the doughnuts have been fried, toss them in sugar or cinnamon-sugar.

Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze
Adapted from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni:

Makes 6 baked doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:
1 cup Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, to make 2 Tablespoons browned butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 to 4 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 6-well doughnut pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, mace and sugar. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter, which will crackle and bubble as it melts. This is the water boiling out: Once it has evaporated, the butter will be still, and will begin to brown and smell nutty. Watch it carefully - it can burn very easily. Remove from heat and immediately transfer browned butter (brown bits and all) to a small bowl.

In a small bowl whisk together egg, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Measure out 2 Tablespoons of browned butter and whisk into the wet ingredients.

Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir together until the ingredients are well-combined and no streaks of raw flour show. Try not to overmix the batter, that can make the doughnuts tough.

Portion the batter into the prepared pan with a small spoon. Fill each doughnut in the pan three-quarters full, and smooth out the batter. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make the glaze while the doughnuts cool.

For the glaze: Sift the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Add 2 Tablespoons of milk and vanilla extract; whisk well to combine. Add more milk as necessary to create a thick, but still just pourable glaze.

Once the doughnuts are completely cool, dip top-side-down into the chocolate glaze, or spoon the glaze over them. Return to the wire rack and (optional) sprinkle with toppings. Allow to set for about 30 minutes before stacking or serving. Doughnuts are best eaten the day they are made.

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