Saturday, 30 January 2016

Yeasted Vanilla Bean Doughnuts

I love post.  I am always excited to get parcels and letters.  My first question when I come home from work is always, "Any post today?".  Anyway, towards the end of last year I discovered something wonderful!  Let me tell you about the Lucky Dip Club.  This is a subscription service and every month you receive a beautiful little package in the post filled with adorable kitschy stationary, stickers, jewellery and other vintage style goodies, all based around a theme.  I love it. I received January's box on Wednesday.  The theme is Donut Dinnerette, and is the inspiration for this month's last blog entry: doughnuts!

Isn't the box (below) so cute?! I got a cute pin and patch (with a donut pun!), as well as a doughnut necklace (something every baker needs) and also a mini magnetic white board, which I promptly stuck on my fridge.  The club has also started it's own mini magazine, a new issue of which is included every month.

So yeah, this glorious little box inspired me to make doughnuts.  However, rather than the baked kind I've made before I thought I would try my hand at fried doughnuts.  And not just fried but also yeasted (I did say it has been a month for yeast last week).

Given my past encounters with doughnuts, I was a bit apprehensive about using yeast.  The last few times I had tried out a recipe like that resulted in very bread-roll-like doughnuts.  Not pleasant.  I've found a number of baked doughnut recipes that don't use yeast, my particular favourite being this one.  But I figured, these were going to be different anyway, since I was frying, not baking.  And the blog the recipe comes from was singing it's praises.  So I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. 

I could see a difference in the dough from the start.  Much softer than previous attempts.  It also didn't smell so yeasty.  I still decided to add the vanilla seeds for an additional taste though.  I love vanilla and the baked vanilla bean doughnuts I made last year were scrummy.  Whilst the dough was certainly lighter, it was easily rolled out and cut to shape.  I admit I thought they looked a bit flat at this point but after their second rise, they looked much better.  'Puffy' is definitely a good description.  They look very light and airy and you'll be scared to pick them up for fear of deflating them.  Hence why you grease the tray to reduce this problem.

Now, aside from the use of yeast, I was nervous about the frying.  I've said before I've not attempted frying doughnuts because it requires a lot of oil that I don't know what to do with after.  However I just ended up pouring it into a jar after it cooled and I'll use it again next time I make doughnuts.  Not such a big deal.  Clearly I worry about the silliest things.  Such things as what to do with the oil should NOT prevent you from trying this recipe.  It is worth all the hassle!  The actual frying is easy.  I just did it in a frying pan and didn't use anywhere near as much oil as I thought - just enough for half the doughnut to float in without touching the base of the pan.

If you saw my twitter post a couple of weeks ago, you know I enjoyed these.  They were unbelievably good.  Definitely the best doughnuts I have ever made!  They're just so easy to pick up and eat and keep eating until there's none left.  I made a mix of glazed and sugared doughnuts.  However, whilst the glaze was nice both the Hubby and I vastly preferred the sugar, so that's what I'm suggesting in the recipe.  I will certainly be using this dough again.  Next I will need to try filled doughnuts!  Just need to find a decent sized syringe...    

Recipe - adapted from The Pioneer Woman via Bless This Mess 
Makes a dozen doughnuts

There is a long resting period for these doughnuts.  I suggest making the dough the night before and resting overnight to be finished the next day.
  • 140ml/5fl.oz milk
  • 30g/1oz caster sugar (plus extra for coating the doughnuts)
  • 1/2 packet of instant dry yeast (about 4g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 85g/3oz butter
  • 300g/10.5oz plain flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • Oil for frying
  1. Heat the milk until it feels warm when you dip your finger in it.  Put it in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add the sugar and allow it to dissolve.
  2. Add in the yeast and stir.  Allow to rest for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt the butter.
  3. Beat the egg and add it and the melted butter to the mixture.  Stir to combine.
  4. Remove the seeds from the vanilla pod and mix in to the batter.
  5. Keep the mixer beating and gradually add the flour and salt.  Continue to stir the mixer until a dough forms then for another 5 minutes after that to really work the dough.  Turn off the mixture and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.   
  6. Turn dough out into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and then place in the fridge to rest for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  7. To make the doughnuts, lightly grease a baking tray and then roll out the rested dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1cm/0.5inches thick.  Use a 6cm/3inch cutter to cut out the doughnuts and then a 2cm/1inch cutter to make the holes in the middle. 
  8. Place the doughnuts and holes on the tray.  Bring remaining dough together and repeat until you have used up most of the dough (you should get 12-13 doughnuts).
  9. Cover the doughnuts and leave them to rise in a warm place until they are puffy and doubled in size (at least an hour). 
  10. Prepare another tray covered in layers of kitchen towel.  We'll use it to soak up excess oil from the doughnuts
  11. Put a couple of inches of oil into a frying pan and place over a medium heat until it reaches 190C/375F (use a thermometer) then reduce the heat to prevent oil from getting any hotter.
  12. Add the doughnuts to the hot oil a couple at a time.  Fry in the oil until they are golden brown on the underside with a thin pale strip running around the centre.  Turn the doughnuts over and do the same on the other side.
  13. Remove the doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon and place them on the prepared tray.  Allow them to cool slightly.
  14. Put sugar into a bowl and dip the doughnuts in it to coat.  Eat straight away as these taste best fresh! 

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