Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers October 10: Doughnuts

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.

What a fantastic challenge this has been!  It's probably one of my most favorite DB challenge to date.  But it wasn't without difficulties..... 

I've had this fear.  A fear of deep frying.  Not a fear of eating fried foods, but of actually, physically frying them.  I was going to attempt to conquer this fear last November with the Daring Baker's Cannoli Challenge, but I chickened out.... and ran out of time.  

I was concerned about all the hot oil and it's ability to seriously burn people.  Seeing as I don't a have roommates, what would I do if I seriously burned/hurt myself?  Who could take me to the ER? I'm really good at over-analyzing things, if you couldn't already tell.  Yes, I am the person who if you don't call me when I expect to hear from you, I suddenly worry that you're dead in a ditch somewhere.  I'm trying to get over this.    

Plus, it just seemed really inconvenient.  What do do with the oil after I was done frying...  Having my apartment smell like a fast food restaurant...  Standing over a hot, oily stove frying doughnuts for hours....  And the list goes on.

But, I decided to conquer the fear.  I decided to challenge myself, after all, that is part of what the Daring Bakers is all about.  So, I got a jug of vegetable oil.  I set aside a Saturday afternoon after teaching Advanced Bakeshop. I dusted off  my trusty candy thermometer.   I kept my phone (and a bowl of ice water) at arms length, just in case of any mishaps.  I bought & lit a lovely scented candle and opened my patio door to try to keep the oil smell from inundating my apartment. And I began heating the oil.

I carefully monitored the temperature of the oil.  And when it finally reached the correct temperature range (350 F to 375F) I reached for my first doughnut hole to test.  But, when I looked down into the oil, I saw these funny red blobs.  That is when I realized that my candy thermometer must have somehow developed a crack.  My perfectly heated vegetable oil was contaminated with mercury (and really I feel we have enough mercury in our diets as it is).  So sad.  Especially sad, since I had used all my oil in attempt #1.  So though I was tired from teaching and really had just planned on staying in the rest of the day, I grabbed my keys and wallet and drove to the grocery store to get more oil. 

I found a second pot, though not as ideal as the first, and my second candy thermometer and went to work heating a second batch of oil for "deep frying attempt #2."  Just as I was, once again, getting ready to test the first doughnut hole, I gazed into the bottom of the second batch of oil.  What did I see?  MORE MERCURY BUBBLES!  ARGH! Thankfully, I had bought a larger jug of oil the second time around "just in case."  I decided that if "deep frying attempt #3" was not successful, then I clearly wasn't meant to deep fry anything. Ever. Period. 

However, "deep frying attempt #3" was successful! Though, by that point both my candy thermometer were broken and I had to settle for testing every few minutes with my instant read thermometer instead. 

Originally, I had planned to make yeast raised doughnuts.  Specifically, I wanted to make spiced pumpkin yeast raised doughnuts.  After much searching of the internet with no results for yeasted pumpkin doughnuts, I settled on making cake doughnuts.  I like yeast doughnuts better (Krispy Kreme trumps Dunkin Doughnuts anyday, in my book) and I do have enough yeast product knowledge to develope a recipe on my own.  But alas, I only had the few precious Saturday hours and I figured it would not be enough time to be a successful venture.  Perhaps in the future I'll develop a yeasted pumpkin doughnut? 

I've been seeing a pleathora of doughnut recipes in the blogosphere lately, partially due to the recent release of Lara Ferroni's Doughnut cookbook (she's a blogger whose blog I follow via my Google Reader accound).  I guess that if there's now a doughnut cookbook, it means that the "low-carb" "Atkins" movement is finally over.  Hurray! 

I decided that if I was going to conquer the fear of deepfrying, I might as well really conquer it and make two kinds of doughnuts: Pumpkin Doughnuts (to which I added a maple glaze or cinnamon sugar after frying), and then one of Lara's recipes I found on another fantastic blog (use real butter) for Apple Cider Doughnuts (to which I added an Apple Cider Glaze to bring out the "apple-y-ness" or cinnamon sugar after frying).

The results from "deep frying attempt #3" were fantastic!  I've never ever tasted cake doughnuts as good as these ones were.  Seriously.  I may be a convert, both to deep frying at home (now that my fear has been conquered) and to the cake doughnut (though only if made at home). 

I can see many more doughnut adventures in my future.  Plus, the looks on peoples' faces when you offer them a freshly fried homemade doughnut is an amazingly satisfying experience.  People are in such shock and awe that you've actually made them yourself.   I try to give away most of the product of my baking adventures (usually to people at church).... I find it's better for my waistline to do so, plus I really enjoy making peoples' day a little brighter by giving them a homemade item.  It just gives me warm fuzzies inside. 

I encourage everyone to try making doughnuts. They're SO WORTH IT!   Thanks to Lori for such a great challenge!  

Note: a couple changes I made (or would make in the future)
  • Like Jen of "use real butter" , I reduced my apple cider slightly to try to concentrate the flavor.  But in the end, after frying, I still didn't detect a huge "apple" flavor.  So I added the apple glaze (just apple cider and powdered sugar).  But in the future when I make these again, I think I'd add some actual apple pieces to the dough... perhaps just dicing them small or even grating them into the dough.  I think it would make a lovely addition. 
  • I think the pumpkin doughnuts could use some extra spice.  Maybe it's just because I've grown up eating pumpkin products with lots of spice... but I think in the future, I would double the amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. I didn't add the cloves because I didn't have any. I also found that the pumpkin doughnuts seemed to develop better flavor by sitting a little while.  I made mine on a Saturday, but didn't serve them until the following morning.  And, unusually, they tasted better with a little melding time (unusual because fried things usually taste best while they're still warm from the frying process).  
  • I also made a maple glaze for the pumpkin doughnuts.  I just added pure maple syrup (none of the immitation crap) to my confectioners sugar and then added enough cream to make the consistancy I wanted.

Bon Appétit | October 2004

Spiced sugar
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
Canola oil (for deep-frying)

Powdered Sugar Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
LV addition: Maple Syrup  (just enough to flavor and add liquid)

Whipping cream

For spiced sugar:
Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend.

For doughnuts:
Whisk first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended (mixture will be grainy). Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin in 4 additions. Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition. Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.

Sprinkle 2 rimmed baking sheets lightly with flour. Press out 1/3 of dough on floured surface to 1/2- to 2/3-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Arrange on sheets. Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.

Using 1-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.

Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels. Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F. Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Cool completely.

For powdered sugar glaze:
Whisk powdered sugar (plus maple syrup) and whipping cream to blend. Whisk in additional cream, 1 teaspoon at a time, to form medium thick glaze. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead. Add doughnut holes to bowl of spiced sugar and toss to coat. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with Powdered Sugar Glaze. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.

Apple Cider Doughnuts 

taken from the blog "use real butter." Jen includes high altitude instructions as well. She reproduced with permission from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni

1 3/4 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (30g) graham flour (or sub all-purpose flour)
2 tsps cinnamon
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsps (1 oz) unsalted butter or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (120 g) superfine sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple cider (used 1 cup apple cider, simmered down to 1/4 cup apple cider concentrate)
1/4 cup buttermilk
vegetable oil for frying

Whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sguar together. Add the egg yolks and beat until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the vanilla, cider, and buttermilk.

Add the dry ingredients and stir just until the mixture comes together in a soft, slightly sticky dough. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the doughnuts out with a 2 1/2 inch-diameter cutter. You can re-roll any scrap dough.

Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-fat thermometer registers 360°F (335°F @8500 ft.). With a metal spatula, carefully place the doughnuts in the oil. Fry in small batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pot. Cook until a rich golden brown, about 1 minute on each side (a little longer @8500 ft.).

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Let cool to the touch before glazing and eating. You can also bake these doughnuts in a doughnut pan in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, but they won’t achieve the same rich golden color.


  1. Beautiful Job!! Apple Cider Doughnuts, yum!!

  2. Maple glaze on a pumpkin doughnut?! Hello! That sounds delish, and is now on my list of things to try!

    Good call on keeping the ice water nearby. Years ago, I was deep frying some shrimp chips and I have two little splash scars on my wrist. They're wee but it could have been so much worse!

  3. Those pumpkin donuts look so delicious with the maple glaze, good job!

  4. Pumpkin and apple cider and maple and coffee... there is just too much awesome going on here for me to handle. It sounds amazing!

    I like the photo set-ups. I really wanted to get a shot with a cup of hot cider, but never got around to it. Maybe for my next doughnut adventure...

  5. Your doughnuts look beautiful! I really wanted to make some pumpkin or apple cider doughnuts, but didn't get around to it. Maybe soon, as I have a lot of oil around the house now from the huge jug I bought for this challenge!
    On the good news front, the red liquid in your thermometer isn't mercury. I still wouldn't want to cook in it, but at least it's not a neurotoxin!

  6. you are seriously afraid of deep frying, i hail from Pakistan and you cant imagine that we have grown up seeing big woks and deep fried food is a sign of great hospitality :)
    good u conquered it,
    ur donuts look amazing

  7. Good job and you have some determination!! I always worry about thermometers - don't use one for fear of accidents!!