Monday, October 24, 2011

Classic donuts

Sometimes in life you have to answer some tough questions. "Would you like to make donuts for the Twin Peaks 21st Anniversary party?" is not one of them. The answer is yes. 1,000 times yes!

I'm not the most experienced donut maker out there, but I have fried a ball of dough or two in my life as a baker. Actually, make that 100, counting last Hannukah's donut fry-o-thon for Dublin's candle lighting ceremony. If you can make 1 you can make 100. And you can make 1 if you try. This time round I made 3 types: Glazed, jelly filled and chocolate glazed. Now you try!

Sheriff Truman: Jelly donuts?
Dale Cooper: Harry, that goes without saying.

Donuts are not difficult to make. But just to help get you over your initial apprehensions I'll clear up some misconceptions for you right here, right now:
1. Donuts are fried. If you're a pessimist you might say that they are fattening and unhealthy, and are likely to give you snack remorse. If you're an optimist you might say they are the perfect combination of sugar and fried, and are likely to make you feel happy while eating them.  Live in the now! 

2. You do not need special equipment to make donuts. You do not need pans shaped like donuts. This is an  example of items designed by the Man to distract you from donut success, making you feel like an inferior donut maker, thereby putting you under pressure to purchase more "donut making equipment" to increase the probability of donut success. Can you see the inescapable loop?! Don't be a sucker. Plant your own garden, be your own donut maker! 

3. Donuts are not made the same way as bagels. You do not roll the dough like a snake and connect the ends. In fact, you roll out the dough, cut out a big circle and a little circle in the middle. This results in 1 donut + 1 donut hole. Dukin' Donuts calls donut holes Munchkins. That's just insulting and un-PC. Tim Horton's calls them Timbits. That's just rude. A fellow baker Devyn calls them donut poop. 

4. Donuts and doughnuts are both acceptable spellings

The Double RR Diner at the Twin Peaks 21st Anniversary party

Here is some around the house equipment that would be helpful in your donut making endeavor:
  • A deep fryer or a big pot
  • A 3" round cookie cutter or a glass, and a 1" round cookie cutter or a shot glass
  • A rolling pin
  • A candy thermometer, or not
  • A slotted spoon or chopsticks if your handy with them
  • Lots of paper towels
  • Some clean tea towels 
Caryna's Cakes Donut Recipe (Makes 12)

250g whole milk
30g sugar
5g salt
7g dry yeast
25g lukewarm water
540g cream flour
2 eggs beaten (choose nice, happily laid eggs)
Juice of 2 mandarins / 1 orange
25g corn oil + 3L for frying


Simmer the milk. When small even bubbles can be seen, remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, mandarin juice and salt to dissolve. Cool the mixture to about 90 degrees F, or until it feels warm (but not hot) to the touch.

Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let it stand until the yeast becomes foamy, about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl combine the milk mixture, yeast, flour, eggs and 25g oil. Stir together until combined and knead until the dough feels elastic. I used a mixer with the dough hook for 2 minutes on slow speed and 7 minutes on medium speed. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Dust the dough with flour, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm corner of the kitchen for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes your dough should have increased in size to about double. Roll out your dough to about 3/4" thick. Cut out your donuts/holes and set aside on a floured surface. If you are making jelly filled donuts, don't cut out the centre hole. You can re-roll your scrap dough, but only once. Cover your raw donuts with a tea towel and leave them for 30 minutes. After that your dough is ready for frying. It won't look as thick as a donut but don't fret. The heat of the oil fried the outside while cooking the inside by steam pressure, which puffs them up too.

Meanwhile, heat your oil. If you have a thermometer, you want the oil to be at 350 degrees F. That's firkin hot oil so be very careful. Remember water makes oil spatter, and hot oil on long sleeves is a bad idea. Make sure your pot and utensils are dry, and wear short sleeves. If you have flame retardant gear and safety goggles, even better. if you don't have a thermometer, you can test the oil by frying a piece of scrap dough. It should take no longer than 1 minute to brown. 

When your oil is ready, fry 2 donuts at a time (this is to maintain your oil temperature) or 4 donut holes (more than that is a lot to handle organization-wise). Fry one side for 1 minute, flip them and fry for 2 minutes, turn back over and fry for a final minute. remove the donuts on to paper towels. I find chopsticks the easiest tool for the job but a slotted spoon will do fine. As long as you don't burn your donut making self.


Jelly filled: Fit a round nozzle to a piping bag and fill the bag with jam (jam with no bits is preferable to prevent clogging). When the donuts are cool enough to handle, inject a dollop of jam into the donut by sticking the piping nozzle into the side seam. Not too much, or the jam will spill out. Toss the donut in a mixture of 1 part caster sugar to 4 parts icing sugar.

Glazed: Warm 65g whole milk and 1 tsp vanilla. remove from heat. Stir in 500g icing sugar. Dip your donuts flat in there and set aside. the glazey goodness will drip down the sides to coat most of the rest of the donut. If you'd prefer a more thorough job, cool then turn over and dip the other side.

Chocolate Glazed: Warm 125g butter, 65g whole milk, 15g golden syrup and 2 tsp vanilla until the butter is melted. Add 4oz good quality chocolate and melt. Remove from heat and stir in 500g icing sugar. Dip your donuts flat, give them a little twist and lift. The glaze will smooth itself out. While still warm, sprinkle some sugar strands or Hundreds & Thousands on top. If the glaze starts to harden, warm back up and continue your good work.