Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sugar-and-Spice Doughnuts



I took these donuts to a meeting this morning. One of the reference staff bit into one and mentioned that his grandmother used to make something similar.

My earliest memory of donuts comes from The Puzzle Place. There's an episode where Leon details the wonders of crullers. Somehow, after trying to con another child into not picking the cruller, he ends up not getting a donut at all (until the other children each give him a fifth of theirs made into some sort of franken-donut.)

After seeing that, I always picked cruller donuts if I could find them. Mom occasionally took us to Mayer's Bakery for treats, and if they were out i'd order a chocolate cake donut with frosting and pastel sprinkles. Our family also went through a fierce, brief donut phase when Krispy Kreme franchises first exploded all over Southern California.

There's only so much pleasure you can take from a too-sweet, chemically processed pastry that either came from a package or from SYSCO (the only sort of donuts I remember eating.)

These, I could grow to love. I almost wish I had a grandmother to make me donuts. Making these was satisfying, even though I overheated the oil a few times and smelled like a fry-shop during work. I love the feel of the dough after 20 minutes of kneading, the way the donuts puff when they hit the hot oil, and the way they spring back after you bite into them. People really loved them; there weren't any leftover and I saw some people eat four or five.

The ones I ate fresh from the fryer were the best. The spices were fantastic- the orange-flower water flavor is very strong in the raw dough but it mellows out in the finished product. I've submitted these donuts to the Time to Make Donuts event hosted by Peabody and Tartelette. A very fun challenge indeed.

Sugar and Spice Doughnuts
adapted from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course

1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup + 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp ground mace (or nutmeg)
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp orange flower water
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
vegetable oil for frying

for the topping:
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cardamom

yield: 5 1/2 dozen doughnuts

1. To make the doughnuts, in a small saucepan, heat the milk until it feels warm, not hot, to the touch. Pour the milk into a small bowl and stir in the 1/2 tbsp sugar and the yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the mace, and the salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, 3 tbsp of water, and the orange-flower water. On low speed, add the yeast mixture, egg mixture, and melted butter to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Switch to a dough hook and knead the dough on medium speed until it begins to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, 18-20 minutes. Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

3. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Gently lift the dough up to allow it to contract slightly. Wrap it in plastic and chill it for 30 minutes to allow the dough to rest.

4. Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the topping in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray. Cut the dough into 1 inch squares and space them 1/2 inch apart on the prepared sheet. Spray a second sheet of parchment paper and use it to cover the doughnuts. Place the tray in a warm place and let rise for 30 minutes.

6. Fill a deep, heavy saucepan halfway with oil and heat over medium-high heat to 375 F on a deep frying thermometer. Meanwhile, line a large platter or baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Once the oil is at the proper temperature, carefully drop the doughnuts into the oil in batches, leaving enough space between them so they're not crowded. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the doughnuts as they cook to the paper-towel lined platter. Always check the temperature between batches to allow the oil to come back up to 375 F. Once the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, but still warm, toss with the spice topping in the mixing bowl. Shake off any excess and serve immediately.

To make these ahead, follow the recipe up to the point of rolling out the dough and shaping them, then wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Take the doughnuts out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to fry them.


Patricia Scarpin said...

These look scrumptious, Lisa - you should submit them to Peabody and Helen's event about doughnuts!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Lisa, Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I do hope you play with coffee or beer, both would be a wonderful addition to quick bread. And as for these donuts, not even 5 minutes before I was eyeing them on Tastespotting but didn't yet click thru. Coincidence! Anyway, I am glad to have found your blog, I shall stop by again.

Helene said...

These are just mouth watering! I don't think I'd be able to restrain myself! Thanks for your entry Lisa!

Koren said...

Those look delicious! The sugar and spice coating sounds great and those are the perfect size for donuts.

I've never made homemade donuts, but I saw the Time to Make Donuts event a few days ago and thought it would be a good reason to try. I usually prefer cake donuts, so I will probably try those... still deciding what to make though.

Kelly said...

these look amazing! they've made me crave donuts horribly this morning.

Pittsburgh Needs Eated said...

Gretchen and Helen-

Thanks for the lovely comments! I had trouble restraining myself as well, and i've already had requests to make them again.

Anonymous said...

They look delicious and taste even better. Here I thought I didn't like doughnuts until this recipe came along.

Thank you for braving the fryer for us!

Brilynn said...

I really want to try making donuts, but I always fear the deep frying oil and setting the kitchen ablaze.

Megan said...

I could see myself eating 4 or 5 of these with no problem! With a cup of coffee, YUM!

Cheryl said...

Love the addition of orange water. That is something I have to keep my eye out on to buy. They look fantastic.

Anonymous said...

very nice picture! not too mention the donuts look very tasty too.

Anonymous said...

i just made these, my first donuts! they were a success, lovely looking, fluffy, and bursting with smiles and head nods. added to the recipe notebook, thank you :)

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

Nels said...

Where did you find the orange flower water? Can I get it here in PGH?