Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Donuts or Doughnuts? Doesn't matter... they're delicious!

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.

This month's challenge was so much fun!! 

Is it obvious I am not much of a Dunkin' Donuts fan?  I've always favored Krispy Kreme... maybe because my uncle would always bring us a dozen of hot Krispy Kreme donuts when he came to visit. :) Or maybe its just because they are way better. ;)

That being said, I knew I wanted to come as close to KK as I could, so a lot of research went into this challenge and I learned that making a donut is much more than just mixing and frying. For starters, there are two different kinds of donuts: Yeast donuts and Cake donuts. Yeast donuts is what you want. They are the fluffy, airy kind you get at KK. If I wanted Cake-like donuts, I would eat cake. Although I don't think cake like donuts taste a thing like cake - I wouldn't bother eating a cake that dry - there is one exception to this rule: Sweet 16s. Mini cake-y donuts with a thick coating of powdered sugar that just melt in your mouth!

Anyways, on to making donuts!

A couple of things to keep in mind: If you will be filling these donuts I suggest you let them rise longer on the second rise. Mine were extra large when I did this and much easier to fill. Also, it is very important to keep the oil between 355F - 365F. Too low and the dough will soak up all the oil and make gross, greasy donuts. Too high and your donuts will fry to a crisp on the outside and stay doughy on the inside. Equally unappetizing. 

Alton Brown's Yeast Donuts

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
  • 2 packages instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg * I omitted this. Not sure why nutmeg belongs in a donut.
  • 23 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)


Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Have fun with the toppings! I used coconut, sprinkles, chocolate glaze (recipe below), chopped pecans, cinnamon sugar, and normal glaze (powdered sugar + milk + a little melted butter + vanilla)
cream filling (skeptical - I tried this without the granulated sugar. I read reviews that said it was too grainy. Bottom line - I think bitting into a donut filled with pure shortening is disgusting. Maybe that's the way donut shops do it but I was not impressed.) 

chocolate glaze (Perfect.)

So, I know someone who is  ::clears throat:: slightly addicted to Cheerwine. Another Carolina favorite. And in case you missed out - like we did - Krispy Kreme and Cheerwine got together to make a limited edition Cheerwine flavored cream filled donut. So, I got this idea...if you can boil down balsamic vinegar to make a glaze/syrup couldn't you do the same with Cheerwine? Then add it to a plain cream filling to give it the Cheerwine flavor. In theory yes. In reality not so much. First I tried spiking a basic cream/custard type filling I used for the cream puff challenge. And even though I did not add the vanilla - the egg yolks gave it such a powerful flavor that you couldn't taste the Cheerwine.  Second go-round I tried the cream filling recipe from above (shortening + powdered sugar). I thought that since shortening is virtually a neutral in flavor, I would have no problem incorporating the Cheerwine. Well, to my most utter disappointment the Cheerwine gave no more than a pinkish color to the shortening mix. :-( I boiled down two 12 oz bottles of the soda. I refuse to boil down a 2 liter....As though spoon fulls of shortening and powdered sugar aren't enough - adding condensed soda is definitely not happening. 

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