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.
Note: this post was written on 10/3, but held for publishing until the Daring Bakers' October release date (today).
I did something totally out of character this morning: I ate a doughnut for breakfast.
Ok, truth be told, I ate 2 doughnuts for breakfast.
And they were amazing. I can only describe my reaction to these fried and sugared wonders as surprised excitement. Doughnuts are not anything I would have ever thought to make (it's a very rare occasion that I would think to eat one). But when I learned they were the October Daring Bakers' challenge, I figured I'd give them a try. Unlike many of the challenges, this one didn't require any strange equipment or ingredients - I had all of the tools and ingredients on hand except for a doughnut cutter and the large quantity of oil required for the frying - both easily procured. So the same day that I read about the challenge online, I decided to give doughnut-making a try.
One word of caution: heating oil to 300ish degrees to fry 20ish doughnuts yields a very hot pot. Perhaps it was due to my awkward use of 2 smallish slotted spoons to transfer the doughnuts into and out of the hot oil, or perhaps it was due to my general clumsiness - but I can tell you for certain that it takes only a fraction of a second contact between skin and doughnut-frying-pot to produce quite a nasty burn. Given said clumsiness, I count myself lucky for coming out of the frying process with only one. But I'd strongly recommend avoiding the one if you can.
Luckily, I had plenty of doughnuts to soothe my pain. :-)
Given that this was my first doughnut attempt, I thought it wise to follow one of the given recipes to try to ensure an edible end product (I followed a yeast doughnut recipe). The recipe said it would yield 20-25 doughnuts, so I decided I'd experiment with half of the dough (hopefully ensuring at least 10ish edible doughnuts at the end).
For my "follow the recipe" half, I did just that. I dusted the resulting doughnuts in caster sugar. They were amazing. I love the contrast between the crisp edge, crunchy sugar, and soft, airy doughnut flesh.
For the experimental half, I played it relatively safe, adding 2 apples (peeled & finely grated with a microplane) to the dough and dusting with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Once I figured out the right amount of additional flour to add so I could handle the dough (much more than I had anticipated, probably a cup or more in the end), the experiment was successful, yielding an apple-frittery-like doughnut. The apple doughnuts turned out denser than the plain version, but with great flavor.
If I were to do it again, I'd probably repeat the halves, as it would be too difficult to choose one over the other!
Here's what I did:
Yields about 20 doughnuts & doughnut holes
1 1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. vegetable shortening
2 packages active dry yeast
1/3 c. warm water
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 2/3 c. all purpose flour (+more if adding apples)
canola oil for frying
optional: 2 apples, cored and finely grated
Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until warm enough to melt shortening. Put shortening in a bowl and pour milk over. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let dissolve for 5 minutes (it should get foamy). Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add milk and shortening to mixer (should be lukewarm). Add eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Use paddle attachment to combine on low until the flour is incorporated. Turn to medium speed and beat until well combined.
Add remaining flour at low speed, then increase to medium and beat well. Change to hook attachment. Beat on medium until dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth 3-4 minutes.
If adding apples, add them to stand mixer at this point, plus an additional cup flour. Beat with mixer until throughly incorporated, adding more flour if the dough remains very sticky.
Transfer dough to a well-oiled bowl. Cover and let stand for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
On a well-floured surface, roll dough to 3/8" thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2 inch doughnut cutter. Set doughnuts and doughnut holes on floured baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oil in a large pot to about 315 degrees. You want enough oil for about 3" depth. Gently place doughnuts 3-4 a a time. Cook 1 minutes per side until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool positioned over a baking pan to catch oil drips. Dust with sugar, or cinnamon sugar mixture.
One year ago: chocolate macarons with nutella ganache