Exciting news: I have joined the Daring Bakers. Ok, it’s exciting for me! I know I’m a little late to the game but hey, I’m still quite new to this whole blogging thing. So with the eagerness reserved for all things new (and all things baking) I waited to see what the October’s (and my first) Daring Baker’s challenge would be. I really had no idea and didn’t even try to guess. October 1 arrived, I headed to the website to read about the challenge and …. my heart sank.
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.
Let me explain my lack of enthusiasm. You see, I had literally, days before, blogged about doughnuts and come away from the whole doughnut experience thinking “well, that’s done and dusted – I feel no need to ever make them again”. As I said in that post, doughnuts just don’t do it for me (with the exception of apple fritters, which you cannot get in the UK). I was even in Paddington station the other day and in the name of research I went into Krispy Kreme intent on buying one, and came away empty handed. Bizarre, isn’t it? Put me in a gourmet cookie shop, or nice Austrian Konditorei and there would be no chance of me leaving empty handed. I wonder if there is some sort of support group for self respecting Canadians who are completely and utterly ambivalent about doughnuts?
I’m not even sure what it is about doughnuts that I’m just so ambivalent about. I guess for me they’re just fried bread with a sticky sugary glaze on them, and to be perfectly honest I’m not big on glazes and I’d much rather just have a piece of bread. Or toast. Or if it’s sweet breads in question, then a cinnamon bun or panettone. Now we’re talking…
So my first reaction was just to skip this month’s challenge… and I did seriously consider it for the first two weeks of the month… but then what kind of Daring Baker would I be? Well, certainly not a very daring one! I decided to give doughnuts one more go, and continue my quest to make a decent apple fritter. I figured a yeast dough was the answer.
I used the recipe given in the challenge - the Alton Brown one. I’m glad that I actually read some of the results/comments that people had already posted, because the dough was extremely wet. It was more like a thick cake batter. I put some of that down to the difference between Canadian and European flours (this recipe originated in North America) - I’ve had that problem before. Ok, I admit that I did add an extra 100g of flour before reading those comments, but then I stopped and hoped for the best. The boy and the girl had endless amounts of fun with this oh so sticky dough. The started out helping to shape the doughnuts, but in the end were just having too much fun stretching and pulling and sticking their fingers together. Washing their hands was a challenge all on its own! Washing dough out of the girl’s hair was fun too.
The dough rose really quickly. You could almost see it rising. I decided to make some apple fritters and some with a chunk of pear in the middle. I very gingerly shaped them and left them to rise while I got the oil going. Once the oil was heated I popped them in, a few at a time, and watched them puff up. Now this was cool – they really expanded once they hit the oil. Then remove from oil and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
It was time for the taste test. They were very light and very tender, with a thin crispy crust. In terms of the texture of the apple fritters I remember, they were about right, but even lighter. Yeast dough was definitely the way to go. The dough wasn’t sweet (I would add a bit more sugar next time), but the cinnamon sugar offset that, and added a bit of a crunch. The man liked them, the kids liked them. While I could appreciate the lovely texture and crispiness of the crust, I was already thinking that I could use the dough in other ways – maybe use it to make a kind of kuchen with apples and lots of cinnamon sugar, or even as a dough for cinnamon buns.
There were loads of doughnuts left over. The recipe made a lot, and let’s face it, doughnuts don’t keep well. Last night the boy made dinner for the family and for dessert he wanted to make these chocolate and nut encrusted ice cream balls that he’d seen on Jamie Oliver’s 30-Minute Meals. I just wanted him to use up the darn doughnuts! So we compromised – I reheated/recrisped some doughnuts in the oven. He made the ice cream balls, and we combined the two. The man made an ice cream sandwich with his, the girl just ate the ice cream, the boy and I had doughnut halves with ice cream on top. Now THAT’S a way to use up doughnuts!
Thanks Jamie O for inspiring my boy! And thanks to Lori for hosting this month’s DB challenge. It may not have been my favourite ever thing to bake, but it was still fun, and really cool to see what others have come up with.
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts
- Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
- Butter 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz
- 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
- Caster Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
- Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
- Cinnamon, 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 (I used 1/2 plain flour and 1/2 bread flour to approximate the protein content of Canadian all purpose flour)
- Sunflower or vegetable oil – amount needed DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches/10cm of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
- 2 apples, peeled and chopped into 1/2 centimetre dice
- Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on finished fritters
- Place the butter and milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the butter. (Make sure the butter is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- 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, cinnamon, 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. This is a very wet dough. Try and resist the temptation to add more flour as it will firm up a little as it’s rising. 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). Place apple chunks on top of the dough and knead a few times just to combine.
- Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass. 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 and then liberally sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.