Peabody and Helen are hosting an event called Time to Make the Doughnuts. I’ve never made donuts before, (coincidentally, Mom has made donuts on numerous occasions, but of course, like owning goats, that was before my time) but I knew I had to participate as these girls are not only fellow Daring Bakers, but two of my favourite bloggers in general.
I chose to make baked donuts, but please hear me out on this one. If I had a deep fryer, I would have made traditional fried donuts, but unfortunately I don’t. Therefore, if I were to make fried donuts there is always the possibility of my burning down the kitchen. Actually, the thought of burning down my godawful cave of a kitchen was almost enough to tempt me into frying, but then I considered how long it took my landlord to fix my shower and I knew that if I burned down the kitchen I might never have one again. It wasn’t the fear of calories or fat that scared me away from fried donuts, but the fear of losing what meager kitchen I have.
Furthermore, I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know that diets are for suckers and if you’re on one, I don’t want to hear about it. I hate when people refuse my baked goods because they’re on a diet and I especially hate it if you tell me you’re fat. It’s never attractive to hear anyone say they’re fat. So long as you exercise and aren’t morbidly obese, a few extra pounds are not worth worrying about. So don’t tell me about your carrot stick and grapefruit diet or all the delicious foods you’re not eating because you’re worried it will go to your stomach or hips or behind. Don’t tell me how after eating one cookie you have to go to the gym because you feel disgusting. I don’t want to hear it.
Back to the donuts. Do you ever do something even though you know it’s not a good idea? That’s what happened to me while making these donuts. When I rolled them out, I rolled them too thin and I realized this immediately, with plenty of time to correct the situation, but did I? No. Instead, I knowingly made it worse. I took two thin donuts and stuck them together. Even as I did it, I knew that it was a bad idea. I knew they would separate while rising and baking, but I ploughed ahead. I decided to further mess things up by cutting out enormous centres. The recipe warns to make sure the donut holes are large enough that they don’t bake shut. This does not mean they should almost be the size of the donuts themselves. Ugh. These donuts had such potential. I’ve seen other bloggers experience success with them and I was looking forward to showing off some beautiful donuts. Sadly this is not the case. Because of preventable errors on my part, I got some seriously weird looking donuts. The donuts holes turned out to be the best part. I dipped them in butter and then rolled them in cinnamon and sugar. Since my larger donuts didn’t lend themselves very well to rolling due to their bizarre shapes, I tried to coat them a few different ways. One of them was dipped in butter and coated in cinnamon sugar, but that was a pain, so I switched to a cinnamon glaze which was messy and then simple powdered sugar which was the easiest, but least tasty.
Baked Doughnuts (from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks)
Don't over bake these, if anything, under bake them a bit - they will continue baking outside the oven for a few minutes. You want an interior that is moist and tender - not dry. Also, be sure to cut big enough holes in the center of your doughnuts - too small and they will bake entirely shut. Remember they rise, and they rise even more when they are baking. These really need to be made-to-order, but you can make and shape the dough the night before if you want to serve them for brunch. Instructions: after shaping, place doughnuts on baking sheet, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Pull them out an hour before baking, and let rise in a warm place before baking.
1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour (alternately, white whole wheat might work - haven't tried it yet)
A pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt - just until the flour is incorporated. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. This is where you are going to need to make adjustments - if your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place (I turn on the oven at this point and set the bowl on top), and let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. Most people (like myself) don't have a doughnut cutter, instead I use a 2-3 inch cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. If you cut the inner holes out any earlier, they become distorted when you attempt to move them. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately if not sooner.
Makes 1 1/2 - 2 dozen medium doughnuts.