Friday, October 29, 2010


I have a goal in my life: experiment and make as many staple food items from scratch as I can.

OK, fine, I probably have at least one other goal in my life. But this is a BIG one! Of course I've made lots of food from scratch on the blog, like gnocchi and yogurt and stuffing and bread and PB&J and turkey pot pie and ice cream and cakes galore and on and on...

But there's still so many things I've wanted to make that I haven't. These are the things that end up on my "to-make" list for months and sometimes even years. Things like homemade tofu, mozzarella cheese, pasta, marshmallows and donuts. Those 5 items were probably the highest on my list.

Then a few months ago all the food blogs I read started posting blog after blog about donuts, beignets and other fried breads. And I just about died and went to heaven every time I read another description of how amazing it was eating a warm, fresh donut.

And so you can imagine my excitement when on October 1st I looked up my Daring Baker's Challenge to find out that we were tasked to make doughnuts!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

The biggest problem with this challenge is that I already had so many donut recipes bookmarked from various blogs that I didn't know which one to make! I settled on the Alton Brown recipe we were required to make for the challenge along with a recipe for chocolate cake holes from Smitten Kitchen. 

So how were they?? Pretty damn delicious. I'm a fan of yeasty glazed donuts so I really liked the Alton Brown recipe.  They were super soft and chewy and perfectly sweet. YUM!

But I do wish they were a little more light and pillowy. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but when I read all the reviews about them being the BEST DONUTS IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD... well... I was expecting a bit more. What I'd love to do is compare them to this donut recipe from Thomas Keller. According to Not So Humble Pie they're the best donuts she's ever made, and I have a tendency to trust her taste buds.

As far as the chocolate donut holes, I had mixed feelings about them. They definitely had a really great flavor. Super chocolately and delicious. But there was something about their texture that I didn't love. A bit dry and dense for my taste. And yes, I realize they're a cakey donut, but I've had cakey donuts that were not nearly as dry. So I think I'm still on a hunt for the best chocolate cake donut recipe if anyone would like to direct me to one.

Anyways, I'd say this challenge was a resounding success. And having saved allll the oil from my frying adventure I think I'll be making some more deliciously friend sweets in the very near future.

Who wants donuts??

Buen Provecho,

Yeast Doughnuts, from Alton Brown

1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
23 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)


1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.

3. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Note: This is a really wet dough, so don't feel the need to add more flour. It's almost like a cake batter in thickness...

4. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.


Tamara Marnell said...

I tried making donuts once, but I don't have a deep fryer and have a horrible hand at temperature control when there's a big pot of oil on my stove. I took them out before the outsides burned but the insides were still wet! So while I love the occasional glazed treat, I shall leave the frying to the professionals (and talented cooks like you) ;)

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