Today was one of those days I didn't love. Today was the day that I attempted to master a skill that I am completely unskilled at. Today was the day that I tried to replicate something in my kitchen that would normally send me running out, screaming into the night. Today was the day that I made doughnuts for the first time.
First of all, I've never been good with dough. It intimidates me. Have I added enough flour? Have I added too much flour? Have I kneaded enough or have I kneaded too much? Is the water too hot? Too cold? I'm never really sure if I've done it right. What stress!!! One of the happiest days of my life was the day I first heard about No-Knead Bread. Finally, a simple recipe that eliminated all of the guesswork.
Second, I hate to deep fry anything. I don't know, something about standing over a cauldron of boiling hot oil just makes me cringe. My mother says it's post traumatic stress from when I was badly burned by boiling water as a toddler. I don't remember the incident, but maybe she's right. All I know is that deep frying scares the crap out of me!
Why then, would I subject myself to this unpleasantness? Because two of my favorite bloggers are hosting an event dedicated to.....doughnuts, and there's no way I would miss it. You've got to support your buddies, right? Time to Make the Doughnuts is the brainchild of Helene and Peabody. Any kind of doughnuts are okay, as long as they're sweet ones and are made especially for this event.
Ready to face my fears head on, I searched for a recipe that wouldn't hurt me too badly. I found it in the new, white hot, bestselling baking book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. They actually have a recipe for doughnuts in there! Well, actually, they call them beignets, but we all know that it's practically the same thing. This was perfect! No-Knead Doughnuts. I was psyched!
To make the beignets/doughnuts, you begin with the authors' recipe for a challah or brioche dough. I went with the brioche. It was pretty easy to make. Any idiot could do it, except that this idiot messed it up. I was moving right along, blithely measuring out the ingredients, when my husband came in and started chatting. Engaged in conversation, I mixed up the dough and put it in its container. When I grabbed it up off the counter to put it in the fridge, guess what was hiding there. The water. I FORGOT TO ADD THE %*&#ING WATER TO THE DOUGH! I wasn't about to write off eight eggs, so I dumped it all back in the mixing bowl and churned like crazy! Then, I made the sign of the cross over it and hoped for the best.
This morning, I took out the container and peeked inside. It looked like.....dough! Very wet, sticky, lumpy dough, but dough nonetheless. Hmm. So far, so good. I scooped out a big hunk and rolled it out. Man oh man, that really was some sticky dough! It got all over EVERYTHING, including my laptop! The recipe says to cut the dough into two inch squares and then fill each square with chocolate of jam. I decided on raspberry jam. Frankly, after my last several posts, I was getting a little sick of chocolate. I am still finding bits of ganache from my Rose-Kissed Chocolate Truffles in the darndest places. I filled my doughnuts-in-waiting and let them rest while I heated up the dreaded oil in the tallest pot I could find. Of course, my candy thermometer was missing in action, so I had no way to tell just how hot my oil was getting.
After a while, the doughnuts started frying up to a more acceptable caramel color. Still not what I wanted, but not too bad. At least the filling didn't leak out. After they were cooled and tossed with sugar, I had to try one. Mmmm. They tasted great! Some of the bigger ones still had some doughy bits inside, but frying them any longer would have really burned the outsides. I don't think that Krispy Kreme needs to be be concerned or anything, but all in all, not bad for my first attempt at doughnut making.
If I were to do it over again, I think that I would fry the doughnuts first and inject them with the jam later. It was a real pain trying to stuff the squares of raw dough. That just seems more logical to me. Would I do it again? I don't know. Maybe. I definitely reached out of my comfort zone and learned a few things. But first, I have got to find that thermometer.
Raspberry Filled No Knead Doughnuts
1½ cups lukewarm water
Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey and 1½ cups melted butter with the water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container.
Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon. You can also use a 14-cup capacity food processor or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook. If you’re not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. The dough will be loose but will firm up when chilled. Don’t try to work with it before chilling. You may notice lumps in the dough but they will disappear in the finished product.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
The dough can be used as soon as it’s chilled after the initial rise. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze the dough in 1-pound portions in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks. When using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before using, then allow the usual rise and rest times.
For the Doughnuts:
Dust the surface of the dough with flour and cut off a grapefruit-sized piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.
Roll the dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 2 inch squares, then spoon a teaspoon of jam in the center of each square. Gather the edges of the dough around the filling, pinching at the center to form a seal. If needed, use a small amount of water to help stick them together.
Allow the doughnuts to rest for 15-20 minutes while the oil is heating up to 360-375 degrees as determined by a candy thermometer.
Carefully drop the doughnuts into the hot oil, 2 or 3 at a time. Do not overcrowd them. After 2 minutes, flip the doughnuts over with a slotted spoon and fry another minute or until golden brown on both sides.
Using the slotted spoon, remove the doughnuts from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all doughnuts are fried.
Dust with sugar and eat with a fresh cup of cafe au lait.