Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daring Bakers October 2010: Doughnuts

Apologies for having to post another Daring Bakers challenge late. It seems like these past few months have been just work, school, work, school for me. Anyways, I was super excited when I found out what the DB challenge for this month would be. I've always wanted to try my hand at doughnuts, and now I got the chance. Although...alas, I must admit something. I have been terrified of working with yeast. Notice how nothing I've made before contains yeast in it? I've always been so afraid that I would kill the yeast, not let the dough rise enough, etc, etc. Plus, it takes a very long time. It's so much simpler to just whip together a batter or dough in 10 minutes than make a dough, let it rise for an hour, punch it down, shape it into whatever you're making, let it rise again, and...oy! But I thought it was about time to face my fears, so although we were given the choice to make either yeast or cake doughnuts, I went with the yeast.

Another reason I pretty much had to go with the yeast is that I wanted to bake my doughnuts. Not that I don't love an amazingly crispy, greasy fried doughnut, I most certainly do. In fact, I would have preferred to make them that way, although I just didn't want to waste all the oil. My family does have oil specifically for frying things, however, the only things that have been fried in it are savory things. We use it to make tempura shrimp, fish, or even chicken, so nothing sweet has ever been fried in it and I was afraid it would affect the taste of my doughnuts. Plus, here's another confession. I've never fried anything! So again, being as I'm totally inexperienced in frying, I decided just to go with baking. did the process go? In all actuality, without a hitch! My first baking experience with yeast was a complete success. I measured the temperature of the milk carefully so as not to kill the yeast, and after about five minutes, my yeast was happily bubbling and expanding away. I added the rest of the ingredients, kneaded the dough, placed it in a bowl, and sure enough, after an hour it had doubled and looked just like it was supposed to. I cut out the doughnuts, let them rise again, and baked them and they turned out nice and light and fluffy. I originally was going to use two glazes to frost them, a chocolate and a strawberry, but the recipe ended up making less doughnuts than I thought it would, so I just stuck with a my favorite chocolate glaze recipe. While I'm sad I didn't get to make a strawberry glazed, I am happy that it didn't make too many doughnuts, since we just don't need that many in the house! So I glazed them, and topped a few with toffee bits, one with sprinkles, and left the rest plain. And oh, for the doughnut holes, I rolled them around in some melted butter and then covered them in cinnamon sugar. Very tasty! The only thing I was slightly disappointed about was that the dough itself tasted a little bland. It called for some nutmeg, but I usually find nutmeg too strong, so I omitted it. I was going to substitute cinnamon, but didn't, and ended up wishing I had. But other than that, they were very good and definitely worth trying again! Maybe next time I'll get to fry them. ;)

Baked Doughnuts (from Piece of Cake)
I got 5 large doughnuts, plus 5 doughnut holes of course, plus a tiny bit of extra dough.

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons warm milk, divided, 95 to 105 degrees (make sure to take its temperature, as the yeast will be killed if its too warm)
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted and still warm
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I omitted, but as I've mentioned, I would advise against that...if you don't like nutmeg, substitute with something else.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  1. Place 3 tablespoons of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir in the yeast and set aside for at least five minutes. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of warm milk in a small bowl, stir in the butter and sugar, and add it to the yeast mixture. On low speed, stir in the egg, flour, nutmeg, and salt - just until the flour is incorporated. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. At this point, make a few adjustments - if your dough is seriously sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add a little bit of milk. Eventually, you want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and become soft and smooth. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface, knead it a few times by hand, and shape it into a smooth ball.
  2. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place. Let the dough rise until its doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on a floured work surface. Using a 2-3 inch cookie cutter, stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cut holes in the centers with a smaller cutter, about half the diameter of the first--remember the hole will close up on the second rising if it's too small, so make it a little bigger than what a finished doughnuts would look like. (I actually just used two cups, since I don't own any round cookie cutters.) Cover the baking sheet with a clean cloth and let the doughnuts rise for another 45 minutes.
  4. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. Better to underbake then overbake here--pull them early if in doubt. Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in your favorite glaze or dip in melted butter and coat with sugar. Serve immediately.
Chocolate Glaze (from
Makes enough to glaze 5 large doughnuts plus have a little left over.

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cocoa powder and milk. Cook the glaze, stirring, until it thickens and comes to a boil, about 2 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 cups of confectioners' sugar, adding more if needed to make the mixture smooth and a little thicker than pancake syrup; don't let the glaze get too thick.
  3. Pour into a bowl and dip the still warm doughnuts in the glaze. Top with sprinkles or toffee bits or whatever you wish. Serve immediately.
The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

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