Ah, doughnuts. If I had to pick a favorite food (don't make me pick!), it would be doughnuts. I've always loved them. No joke, when I was in the 2nd grade and everybody had to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up, and most kids were drawing astronaut and firefighter, I chose doughnut maker. No, not baker. Specifically doughnut maker. I had an apron and a chef's had and was looking out of the window of "David's Donut Hut," a white and blue cottage where I imagined I made hundred of doughnuts for sale.
So any chance I get to eat/make doughnuts, I'll take. For the past few years, on National Doughnut Day (the first Friday of June), I've taken it upon myself to make a big plate of doughnuts, which my husband and I inevitably eat entirely by breakfast the following day. We've been known to regularly buy a dozen doughnuts at the grocery store after 5PM when they're half price and nibble at them for a few days. Long story short: the human body is 57% water, and the remaining 43%, at least for me, is made of doughnut.
This dough is quite easy: it's really just a "mix all together and see what happens" shtick. Like with all yeast breads, you're going to think it's never going to come together. And if you're anything like me, you'll want to give up and just throw the dough into a bowl and let it rise a really long time just so you don't have to deal with kneading. And that's definitely an option. This time, however, I decided to persevere. Usually, my doughs are shaggy and lumpy and I just go watch some Schitt's Creek until I remember I have bread to make. But it was late, and I wanted doughnuts, so I soldiered on with my kneading. I'm glad I did.
After the dough rises, you'll have this beautifully smooth mass and it will smell absolutely amazing. There's something about a sweet dough that just smells and feels right. It's a familiar stretchy Play-doh, and if I didn't love doughnuts so much, I would just stand there and play with it. If you've never made homemade yeast dough before, you are missing out. Even if the bread you make ends up sucking, the feel of homemade yeast dough in your hands really has no compare. It's so organic and comforting. Needless to say, I don't understand the gluten-free craze. And even if I'm having weird digestive interactions to yeast, I will suck it up to eat doughnuts.
The one little technical piece to this is how you roll the dough. And it's the one kind of odd part of this recipe. To me, these balls are way too big and way too spherical to be doughnuts. If I were to do this again, I would make 15-20 smaller doughnuts, and smash them down to ovals. That would cut down on the cooking time and allow you a more traditional doughnut shape. But Paul Hollywood wanted spheres.
The best way to do this is to roll the dough into a ball between your hands, then place it under one hand, which is "cupped" downward. If you move your cupped hand in a circular motion on your working surface, the dough will naturally form a ball that brings all of the seams to one side (the bottom). Flip it over and pinch everything together tightly (more tightly than I did), and you have a dough sphere ready for cooking.
Once the second rise is done, you're ready to start frying. I suppose you could bake them and make what I call "fauxnuts," but you've already committed yourself to making doughnuts, and everything in moderation, so if you're not frying the, you're really doing a disservice to the hard work you've already put in. You won't get the same crispiness and doughy goodness you'll get from frying. If you want to cut a couple calories and bake these instead, might I recommend taking a 20-minute walk instead, and then coming back and eating the fried dough? You're welcome.
Before I move on, let me talk about this tool. It is an infrared thermometer and a more traditional chef might say "get this high-tech gadgetry out of my kitchen--a candy thermometer will do nicely." To that I say, "Get off your high horse and into 2017." Candy thermometers are beasts. They're tall, their clamps are dismal, their readings are not clear. They are good for a lot of liquid in deep pots for staid chefs who are afraid of leaving their comfort zone. The infrared thermometer is a game changer. Within two seconds, you can know the exact temperature of your oil (or a pan, or your floors, or your shower water, or your husband's forehead), and when you want to keep a consistent temperature of 350F, only a sous vide machine can do as well.
Go to Amazon and buy one--you'll thank me later. Less than $20 to save yourself a lot of wasted food and worry wrinkles.
And here's where I should advise you to use a larger pan, if you're able. I didn't have enough oil to fill my large dutch oven enough to fry, so I used my trusty small saucepan, and it could only fit one doughnut at a time. Seeing as how each doughnut took 5-10 minutes to cook, I was standing at my stove for quite some time. You should be able to do these in batches of 2-3 and drastically cut down on your time, and speed up on your accuracy (I got sick of standing toward the end, so half of them ended up still raw inside).
How do you know if you're doing a good job? It's hard to tell if the inside is cooked, but I like to use the "tap 'til hollow" method of yeast doughs to start: if you tap on the cooked doughnut and it sounds somewhat hollow, you're probably in good shape. Another good indicator, for doughnuts specifically, is the telltale white line bisecting the ball. That is the key to a properly fried doughnut, and immediately lets the eye know that the stomach is in for some good food.
And good these were. I mean, honestly you can't go wrong with fried dough, so I wasn't expecting anything short of delicious, but there's something satisfying about making these yourself and being able to control things like how brown and crispy the get and how much jam you put inside. I have to say too that these doughnut are not nearly as greasy as the ones you would get down at your local doughnut shop. The key to that is making sure you have the right temperature oil (get the thermometer!). I would actually prefer these to be smaller and fried at a higher temperature (360F should do it)--this would allow them to cook all the way through, stay crispy dark brown on the outside, and absorb even less oil. Just enough to keep the sugar on, but not enough to leave your fingers slick after eating.
500 grams (1 pound 2 ounces) ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
50 grams (2 ounces) GRANULATED SUGAR
40 grams (1 1/2 ounces) UNSALTED BUTTER
2 large EGGS
14 grams INSTANT YEAST (rapid rise, not active dry)
10 grams (1/4 ounce) SALT
150 milliliters (5 fluid ounces) WARM MILK
130 milliliters (4 1/2 fluid ounces) WATER
GRANULATED SUGAR, for rolling
BERRY JAM, for filling
1. Place FLOUR, SUGAR, BUTTER, EGGS, YEAST, SALT, MILK, and 100 milliliters of WATER into a bowl
2. Stir with your hands until a dough is formed
3. Slowly add the remaining water and knead the dough in the bowl for four minutes (alternatively, mix in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment)
4. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic
5. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover, then leave to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size)
6. Knock the dough back by kneading it a few times
7. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and shape each into a ball
8. Place the balls of dough onto a floured baking tray and allow to rise for an hour
9. Heat a pot of oil to 350F
10. Lower each doughnut into the fryer, cooking each side for 5 minutes, or until golden brown
11. Remove the doughnuts from the oil and immediately roll in sugar and set aside to cool
12. Place the jam in a pastry bag, and use a paring knife to cut a hole or "X" into the side of the doughnut, then pipe the jam into the doughnut until full (1-2 tablespoons per doughnut)
A personal challenge to conquer every technical challenge, and select signature bakes, from The Great British Bake Off
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