Last year it was whoopie pies, the year before that it was cupcakes, but this year it seems that doughnuts are the dessert du jour. The New York Times recently wrote an article about the proliferation of doughnut shops in the city so I’m sure the trend is bound to spread to other parts of the country faster than a social disease. Personally, I am very excited about the comeback of doughnuts, even if doughnuts have had more comebacks than Cher, because I’ve adored doughnuts since I was little. Whether it was glazed, covered in chocolate or filled with jelly, there wasn’t a doughnut I didn’t love getting my chubby little hands on. As I’ve gotten older, my love of doughnuts have grown exponentially. If I wasn’t afraid that my heart would explode in my chest before I turned 35, I would eat them everyday. But since I want to stay alive to see how crazy Michelle Bachmann gets before she totally loses touch with reality, I’ve decided to limit my consumption to a couple times a month.
Lately, I like to make doughnuts at home instead of buying them because they are very simple to make and because there was a shocking lack of chocolate on the doughnuts I used to buy. Personally, I like a 1:1 ratio of doughnuts to chocolate ganache and I was tired of the strange looks I used to get for asking for a side of ganache. At home, I can put as much chocolate on my doughnuts as I want without the judgmental eyes of people who obviously don‘t appreciate chocolate enough.
When I am making doughnuts at home I like to alternate between yeast-risen and cake doughnuts for variety. Because yeast doughnuts need time to rise, they take time to make, but they are certainly worth the wait because what you get is a chewy and fluffy treat. A great way to save time is to make the yeast doughnuts the night before and refrigerate them. In the morning allow them to rise in a warm place before you fry them. Cake doughnuts are made in a similar fashion as cake but are even better than cake because you get to fry them. Because baking soda and baking power are the leaveners, they do not need to rise and are faster to make than yeast doughnuts.
I think the trickiest part about making doughnuts is maintaining the temperature of the oil. Make sure to use a thermometer so that you can keep a consistent temperature. If your temperature is too low the doughnuts end up absorbing too much oil and they become greasier than Rush Limbaugh. If the temperature is too high, the doughnuts will burn on the outside before they cook on the inside.
I have included a simple recipe for buttermilk doughnuts that includes both yeast and baking yeast, so you can have a quicker rise than normal yeast doughnuts but still get a chewy doughnut. They are great with powdered sugar, a simple glaze, ganache or whatever your imagination comes up with. You can also add things like golden raisins and cinnamon to the dough like I did in a batch of doughnuts I made recently.
I like to weigh my ingredients in order to get a more consistent product so I’ve included the weight of all the ingredients. I bought my food scale at Target for $10 so they are definitely affordable. Trust me, using a food scale will definitely improve your cooking/baking.
Stand mixer with paddle attachment
Food scale (optional)
Large pot for frying doughnuts
2 round cookie cutters (one twice as large as the other)
3 tablespoons softened butter (40g)
6 tablespoons sugar (200g)
1 tablespoon yeast (12g)
½ cup warm water (100g)
1 cup buttermilk (220g)
3 ½ cups of all-purpose flour (540g)
1 tablespoon baking powder (22g)
1 teaspoon salt (3g)
3 quarts neutral oil like canola or peanut
1) With a paddle mix butter and half of the sugar together at medium speed until creamy.
2) Meanwhile mix together yeast, warm water and the other half of the sugar in a bowl and let mixture sit until foamy (about 5 minutes).
3) Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and slowly add to butter and sugar. Mix until ingredients are incorporated.
4) Add yeast mixture to flour and mix.
5) Pour in buttermilk and mix only as long as it takes for all the ingredients to be incorporated. If you mix the dough too long the gluten will develop and you will have a tough dough.
6) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat your oil in a large pot to 350F.
7) On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough ½ thick with a rolling pin.
8) Cut dough with round cookie cutter then use the smaller cookie cutter to cut a whole in the middle of the doughnut.
9) Carefully drop the doughnut into the oil.
10) Fry doughnuts until they are golden brown. You can use paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
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