This post is terribly late! But better late than never, right? Plus it involves jam doughnuts and definitely worthy of sharing with you all! Last Christmas, we made dessert for both sides of the family. I may have overlooked the commitment of baking from scratch, as we (Derek too) spent almost two days in the kitchen (minus a dishwasher) leading up to what always turns out to be a hectic Christmas every year without fail. Baking is fun, cleaning up without a dishwasher and a single sink is not so much fun. In saying this though, it was worth the extra mile, to see everyone enjoying our baking on Christmas day and especially our nieces. For my family, I made a chocolate almond torte and for Derek’s, round soft Mardi Gras doughnuts.
I was having a lot of fun with yeasted dough, especially when I discovered that is also great to make a beautiful sweet cake such as the Raisin ale cake with walnut streusel topping (mmmm). I do struggle with achieving the rise of egg whites in French cake recipes however yeasted dough seems to rises beautifully for me. I think when you find something that doesn’t cause you to curse in the kitchen, you roll with it and doughnuts was the perfect choice to tackle next. I consulted the The British Bake off – advanced dough episode, watching it a couple of times and absorbing any tips or techniques. I was so tempted to bake Luis’ cocktail doughnuts that Mary Berry went crazy for. If you want to learn about baking, this is one reality show to watch. The contestants are encouraged to share their cooking wisdom and the judges offer construction criticism and more importantly with helpful insight as to why a bake went wrong. The temperature of the oven was to warm or the prove was too long.
This recipe is from Rick Rodgers book, Kaffehaus and known as Mardi Gras Doughnuts (Paschingkrapfen). Having never made doughnuts before, we followed this one, word for word and it was wickedly good.
A couple of things to note about these delectable doughnuts, is giving the dough the right enough time to rise in a warm environment but at the same time making sure the dough is not over proved. (i.e its too warm or leaving it for too long). Finding that happy balance for a good prove does take a little practice. The dough can also be prepared the day before it is fried.
The recipe calls for a stand mixer, however as we do not have one, we instead, used our lime green Breville hand mixer to mix in the wet ingredients and the rest was done by hand. Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Book Volume two has a detailed section on kneading yeast doughs, this helps and as you can see from the photo you don’t necessarily need an expensive mixer. Although, it certainly does cut preparation time.
While we don’t have a fryer, we used the technique of contestant Chetna – heating oil in a fry pan. We tested a round ball and realised the oil was too hot. It was browning the outside too quickly and not cooking the inside. Arghh dilemmas! Achieving the right frying temperatures is a priority and doing a test before definitely helps. We didn’t achieve the signature light band around the doughnut but who cares because they were so tasty!
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon golden rum
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salty
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, as needed
Approximately 1/4 cup jam
1 large egg white, beaten until foamy
vegetable oil, for deep frying
Confectioners sugar, for dusting, optional
To make the sponge: crumble the yeast into the milk in a small bowl, let stand for 3 minutes and whisk to dissolve the yeast. Add the flour and sugar and whisk until smooth. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.
To make the dough: Whisk the milk, butter, sugar, rum, zest and salt in the bowl of a heavy duty standing mixer. Whisk in the yolks, then the sponge. Attach to the mixer and fit with the paddle blade. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add enough flour to make a soft sticky dough that barely cleans the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat the dough with the paddle bade (don’t use the dough hook) for 2 minutes.
Gather up the dough into a ball and knead briefly until sooth. Place the dough in a large buttered bowel, turn to coat with butter, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes (the warm ingredients make this dough rise more quickly than others.)
On a very lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick, Using a 2 3/4 inch round biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of a dough, set aside on a baking sheet lined with a lightly floured kitchen tough, and cover loosely with plastic wrap (you can stack the rounds). Kneading the scraps until smooth, roll and cut out to make a total of 24 rounds, discarding any excess dough.
Place a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of preserves in the center of a round. Moisten the circumference of the round with egg white. Cover with a second round, pinching the edges together with your fingertips (the seal should end up in the middle of the two rounds, forming a belt).
Place a 2/1/2 inch round biscuit cutter over the sandwiched rounds and press down to cut out a doughnut, discarding the trimmings. Double check to be sure the doughnut is sealed. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a lightly floured kitchen towel. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm placed until the doughnuts have barely risen, about 15 minutes. Do not let the doughnuts rise until puffy or doubled, or they will expand too much during frying.
Pour oil into large heavy skillet or electric skillet just to a depth of 1/2 inch and heat over high heat to 350 F. Place a wire rack over a jelly roll pan to drain the doughnuts (this works much more efficiently than paper towels)
Place 3 or 4 doughnut in the oil and cover (covering doughnuts during frying goes against the deep-frying convention, but this contains the heat and helps cook the exposed side of the dough) Fry until the undersides are golden brown about 1 1/2 minutes. Turn and fry uncovered until the other sides are golden brown, about 1 minute. There should be a white ribbon around the center of each doughnut where the oil did not reach. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the doughnuts to the rack and drain and cool. Sift the confectioners sugar over the warm doughnuts. Reaheat the oil between batches. Cool the doughnuts completely.