Thursday, 23 August 2012

Doughnut challenge...

Last Friday I got an e-mail from a colleague:

Subject: Monday morning, get up early and...

Nothing more. Simply a culinary gauntlet thrown with stark impunity. There was clearly no way I was not going to make jam doughnuts. It was on my mind all weekend but there wasn't an opportunity to make them until last night.

I have an unstable relationship with yeast. Sometimes I crack out some beautiful airy doughy delights. At other times I get heavy hard lumps.

After mixing the dough together, I was not hopeful. It seemed very tough and even after kneading for a while it hadn't become any more elastic. Nevertheless, I left it to prove (I recently learnt that the term is used because you are "proving" that the yeast works, so now you know) with scant optimism. Even after a good hour the dough had grown only little bit, but since I'd invested so much and I do so love using my mini deep-fat fryer, I decided to carry on and formed my doughnuts. The dough wasn't pliable enough to be worked into proper buns, so I ended up with some round-ish balls.

By this time it was quite late in the evening and I was quite up for a tasty deep-fried sugary snack. 8 minutes of frying in the hot vat later I had a golden ball. A quick roll in caster sugar and it was ready to eat.

It was too hot to attempt to squeeze in the jam, so I just spooned some on the side. And I have to say it was pretty good. A touch dense but a hot sweet sticky doughnut it most certainly was. (Is there anyone who can resist hot doughnuts? Those vans that sell 5 for £1 are my dirtiest guilty pleasure.)

I fried off the remainder and resolved to take them in to work.

In order to get the jam in I heated it up and put it in a squeezy bottle. I also let the doughnuts cool down a little so I could actually hold them. I thought I did a reasonable job of getting jam in each one. Turns out that wasn't the case. The dense centre (as a result of the dough not proving) meant that the jam had nowhere to go. I hadn't noticed the dense texture with my warm one. These doughnuts were most definitely best fresh out of the fryer.

Still I think they went down OK with the selected few who I dared offer one too:

taste is good as you said rather dense and because of that the sweetness doesn’t last through the amount of time to eat the mouthful

Great 1st try though – happy to try them until you reach dunkin donuts standard!
Mine was on the dense side, I certainly know I eaten one – tasty tho Good work

You just know I'm going to have to have another go at some point...

Jam Doughnuts (from The Guardian)

300g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
7g dried yeast
½ tsp salt
15g caster sugar, plus extra to dust
20g unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped, plus extra to grease
65ml whole milk, warmed
45ml warm water
1 egg, beaten
6 tsp raspberry jam

1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Put the butter into a bowl with the warm milk and water, and stir to melt. Pour this into the mixing bowl, along with the egg, and stir until it comes together into a dough: it should be firm, but soft.
2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface, or into a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Put into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour).
3. Shape into 6 balls of about 80g each, folding each side tightly into the centre in turn, turning as you go, then turn the ball over and put it on a lightly floured baking tray or board, spacing them well apart. Cover and leave to rise again for 45 minutes.
4. Heat the oil in a large pan or deep-fat fryer to 160C. Cook the doughnuts in 2 batches for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden, then blot with kitchen paper and sprinkle with caster sugar. Allow to cool slightly, then make a small hole in the side of each, and use a piping bag to inject a splodge of jam. Eat immediately, while they're still warm.

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