Monday, January 18, 2010

Cake Donuts

Cake Donuts - made January 18, 2010 from Bread for Breakfast

I hardly ever make doughnuts. I have nothing against them and they're generally not hard to make but they usually call for more time than I normally have. But Hildy was talking about doughnuts on Facebook yesterday and I had today off so suddenly I wanted a doughnut and had the time to make them. I never actually drive to go get doughnuts - while I'll eat them when they're in front of me, I don't love them enough to make an effort to go somewhere to get them. The first time I ever had a Krispy Kreme doughnut was when I walked by one in a Las Vegas casino and decided to see what all the fuss was about. Beyond that I never actually go to my neighborhood Krispy Kreme for a doughnut.

My earliest childhood memory of doughnut making was my mom taking the tube can of Pillsbury biscuits, cutting out the center with a small circular cookie cutter and deep frying the biscuit dough. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and you had instant doughnuts. My taste buds have matured (and become snobbier) since then but as a kid, I remember them being pretty good.

I've had this recipe typed up for awhile. What I do with my 200+ baking books is go through them, mark which ones I want to try and type them up in a Word doc so I have a soft copy that I can add pictures to as well as my notes of when I made the recipe, what I thought of it and what I would do differently next time. Whenever I have some time and when I'm in the mood, I type up all the recipes I want to try. I have file folders with the names of the recipe books and as soon as I try a recipe, I insert a picture that I took of the finished product into the recipe itself then file the Word doc in the file folder with the name of the cookbook I got it from. For the recipes I've typed up but haven't made yet, I file in a folder labeled (rightly enough) "Still Need to Make". That file folder has dozens of recipes and I can type them up faster than I can make them. Whenever I'm in the mood to bake and want to try something new, I check that file folder first to see what's appealing. So I was glad to finally get a chance to make this recipe since I typed it up several years ago and it's just been sitting in that folder.

The dough itself was easy to put together this morning. I did the substitions the recipe said were acceptable and used half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour as well as half brown sugar and half granulated sugar. The recipe calls for chilling the dough for a couple of hours so it won't absorb too much oil when fried. I actually chilled it for longer than that because I was doing other stuff when the 2 hours were up. In any case, I found this dough really soft to work with. It wasn't even possible to knead it without adding too much flour, something the recipe cautions against. Given how soft the dough was, I didn't even bother with a rolling pin but floured a cutting board, grabbed a chunk of the dough and flattened it out with floured palms. I floured two round cookie cutters and cut out the doughnuts and doughnut holes. Because the dough was so soft, it was hard to unstick the cut out dough from the cookie cutter and still retain its round shape.

While I was dealing with the dough, I had the oil heating up in a large pot. When you fry doughnuts or anything similar, the temperature of your oil is critical. Too hot and it'll burn the outside while leaving the inside raw. Not hot enough and your doughnut (or whatever) will absorb too much oil while it's frying and take too long to cook. Also, be aware that the temperature of your oil will change - the more you add to be fried, the lower the temp goes. Don't add too many without waiting for the oil to heat back up. Don't overcrowd the doughnuts and it's best to add several at once so they get done around the same time and you don't have to worry about which one has been in the longest and needs to come out first. Just because your frying pan is big doesn't mean you have to cover every inch with something to be fried.
As an aside, while I was frying the doughnuts, I couldn't help thinking of the book "Farmer Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Almanzo came in from doing his chores and his mother was frying doughnuts. She'd twist them, drop them in the hot oil (or fat/lard) and they'd rise to the top, turning over to cook on both sides without her "wasting time" turning them. I'd always found that fascinating and always pictured it in my mind's eye. Almanzo's mother didn't hold with the new-fangled concept of a round doughnut that didn't turn itself.

Anyway, back to these doughnuts. I made the cinnamon sugar for them, put it in a ziploc bag (since I didn't have a lunch bag) and dropped the newly fried doughnuts into the bag to shake and give them the cinnamon sugar coating. I have mixed feelings about the end results of this recipe. Because the dough was so fragile and difficult to work with, the fried doughnuts also didn't have much substance to them. I'm used to cake doughnuts being like the ones you buy in the store like the Entemann's brand - these were not as dense or cakey as those. They also weren't light like yeasted doughnuts but some cross inbetween. The cinnamon sugar coating was a mistake because it totally overwhelmed the doughnuts and you just got crunch with cinnamon sugar. I also tried a doughnut hole without the coating and it was better. The outer part was crunchy which was good. The inner part was somewhat cakey although the outer layer of the inner part (just beneath the crunchy exterior), while not greasy, looked like it had absorbed some oil. The flavor actually wasn't bad but these doughnuts tasted better cool or room temperature rather than warm. Not sure I'd make these again. If I had to eat something fried, I'd rather have zeppoles.

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (can be half whole wheat flour)
1 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cardamom
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 large whole egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar (can be half light brown sugar, which is especially good if you are making whole wheat donuts)
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup cultured buttermilk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
About 1 quart vegetable oil, for deep frying

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose and cake flours, baking powder, vanilla powder, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt
2. In the workbowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, cream the egg, yolks, and sugar on low speed until thick and lemon colored, about 1 minute. Add the melted butter and sour cream and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. On low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 separate additions, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla extract. The dough will be very soft. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours. This chilling before frying prevents the dough from absorbing too much oil while the donuts cook.
3. Using a large rubber spatula or a plastic dough card, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times, like for biscuit dough, just until it holds together, and keeping it as soft as possible. With a rolling pin, quickly roll out the dough to a thickness of ½ inch (the donuts will puff during frying). Do not add too much flour or over-handle at this point or the donuts will be tough. Using a 2 ¾” donut cutter or two smooth-edged biscuit cutters, one large and one small (to make the hole) dipped in flour, cut out the donuts.
4. In a deep heavy 4-quart Dutch oven, wok or portable electric deep-fat fryer, pour the vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches. Using a deep-fry thermometer, heat to 375°F (I do this while I am rolling and cutting out the donuts so that the dough does not warm up). Place a clean brown paper bag or a few layers of paper towels on a baking sheet at the side of the stove for draining the donuts. Carefully test the oil by dropping in a leftover scrap of dough; the oil is hot enough when it puffs immediately. Carefully slide 2 or 3 pieces of dough (don’t forget the holes) off a metal pancake turner into the hot oil. It is important not to crowd them. Turn a few times with a large slotted metal spoon when the donut rises to the surface; cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side (1 minute for the holes). Remove with the slotted spoon to drain, and cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Glaze

Enough for 21 cake donuts

1 ½ ounces (1 ½ squares) unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of powdered espresso powder or instant coffee granules
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon boiling water

1. In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over simmering water
2. In a small bowl, place the confectioners’ sugar and coffee. Pour in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Using a whisk, beat well until smooth. Adjust the consistency of the glaze by adding boiling water a few drops at a time, just enough to keep the glaze spreadable.
3. Using a small metal spatula, spread the glaze on the top of each donut, letting some run down the sides. Let stand until cool and the glaze harden.

Cinnamon Sugar

Enough for 1 bunch of cake donuts

1 cup granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, or to taste

1. Place the sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and process for 15 seconds.
2. Pour the cinnamon-sugar into a clean brown paper bag (a lunch sack is great). Drain the fried donuts for 1 minute, and then, while still warm, place one at a time while still warm in the paper bag and gently shake to coat with the mixture. Remove from the bag and cool.

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