27 October 2010
A Daring Bakers' Challenge : Time to Make the Donuts
To say I was elated when I saw the October Daring Bakers' challenge: Donuts, would be an understatement. Though I have never made them myself, I've always wanted to and so was able to channel my inner "Fred the Baker" for this one. Time to make the donuts!
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 decided to go with the classic yeast donut variety from Alton Brown. Making these were a bit of a challenge since I wasn't really sure what the dough was supposed to look and feel like as I worked with. Thanks to one of the other Daring Bakers' write-ups in the forums (thank you Audax!), I knew that the dough might appear to be overly sticky or wet and so I tried to avoid the temptation of adding in too much flour to compensate.
I did end up rolling and cutting the donuts once before frying only to find that they stuck too much to the tabletop, which then forced me to re-kneed (and yes, I admit -- I added some flour!) roll and cut again. I think this may have had a negative effect on the finished product as these donuts were a bit more chewy, compact and dense than I would have liked.
When I had finished cutting the donuts out, I had some left-over dough which I rolled into logs, braided and then shaped into circular form. I was actually thinking of the crullers I used to eat in high school at Niel's Coffee Shop on East 70th Street that were billowy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and covered in the sweetest glaze that melted in your mouth as you bit into it. These were the best of the bunch that I made -- they puffed up nicely when plopped in the oil and were moist, cakey and airy on the inside.
My kids and I went to town on the glazing of these donuts when we were done. I mixed up some simple vanilla and chocolate glazes and dumped an entire bottle of sprinkles in a bowl for a pretty finish. These were so much fun to make and a lot easier than I would have thought. Next time, we'll be sure to try the buttermilk cake donut recipe that Lori also posted.
I made the donuts! You can too -- here's the recipe....
Yeast Doughnuts, by Alton Brown:
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 (I cut the recipe in half and ended up with about 18 regular size donuts and 15 holes).
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)
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. (I used a wok).
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.