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Monday, February 22, 2010

Let them eat doughnuts

Remember scrunch socks? Parachute pants? Tons of hair spray? So 80’s! As Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is made to become unfashionable.” And unfortunately, we are slowly seeing cupcakes becoming démodé. But not to worry! The latest fad on the street is doughnuts.
Doughnut can be a fried ring or a balloon of sweet dough that is either yeast leavened or chemically leavened. The dough is mixed and shaped, dropped into hot oil and fried; next, it is either glazed or filled with jam.
Chemically-raised doughnuts are made with baking powder and are generally rather dense and cake-like. These are the typical kind we eat at a franchise doughnut shop. They are easy and quick to make.
Yeast-raised doughnuts, on the other hand, need a bit more work. But the end result is worth it. They are leavened by the creation of carbon dioxide resulting from fermentation of yeast. Their texture is lighter than chemically-raised doughnuts; however, they require several hours to produce.

The preferred method of preparation is entirely up to you.
So let us get rid of our cargo pants, Doc Martens, fanny packs, and our cupcakes … Doughnuts seem to be here to stay at least until something else comes to take its place. . So until then, enjoy the sweet high a warm doughnut offers you, and remember, if nothing else, doughnuts are comforting for the soul.
Yeast Doughnuts
For the sponge:
4.2 ounces all-purpose flour

0.5 teaspoons instant yeast

3.5 ounces lukewarm water

1 large egg
For the doughnuts:
5.8 ounces all-purpose flour

2.5 teaspoons instant yeast

0.6 ounces dry milk 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

0.5 ounces sugar 

1 large egg, cold

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 ounces butter at room temperature
Canola oil for frying

Extra fine sugar for rolling

The Procedure
Combine the sponge ingredients in a small bowl and stir them with a fork until smooth. Let the sponge ferment for half an hour at room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, put the sponge in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add all the remaining ingredients except the butter. Knead it for 10 minutes on medium speed, scraping down as needed. After 10 minutes, start adding the butter a tablespoon at a time, kneading until each is well incorporated.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape it into a rough rectangle. Put it on a towel-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of 3/8 inches. Using a 3 1/2-inch circular cookie cutter, cut out the doughnuts, re-rolling the scraps until the dough is completely used. If making jelly doughnuts, leave the dough circles intact. Otherwise, use a small 3/4" circular cutter to punch out holes in the center. Return the doughnuts to the towel-lined baking sheet, covered with a sheet of lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let them rise until puffy, about an hour.
Fry in 375-degree oil for roughly 45 seconds per side. Drain on a wire rack. Ice and decorate as desired.
For jelly doughnuts, roll the fried rounds in superfine sugar while the doughnuts are still warm. Attach a pastry tip, (just about any good-size tip will do) to the corner of quart-sized zip-lock bag and fill with about a cup of jam. Using a cake tester, gently poke a hole in the side (or bottom) of each doughnut. Fill with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of jam. Eat!
Makes 12-14 doughnuts.


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