Thursday, October 28, 2010

Daring Baker's: Doughnuts!

My immediate reaction to this month's challenge included wide eyes, a broad smile, and a major effort not to jump up and down with excitement. (Confession: The suppression of the jumping may not have been 100% effective.) Homemade doughnuts have been on my baking "to do" list for a few months now so I was excited to get the Daring Bakers push to move doughnuts to the "do it this month" list..even though I knew October would be a ridiculously hectic month for me.

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.

As I scanned the recipes, I was initially overambitious. I seriously wanted to make yeast filled with multiple items and pumpkin cake and blueberry cake. Did I meantion I was VERY excited? Right. Since October has been busy for me, I had to force myself to pick one type at least so I chose yeast. What can I say? I love Krispy Kreme. I plan to make more later but for this month, one batch was I could handle. That did not mean it would be one varient though.

Chocolate glazed doughnut with sweetened whipped cream case you're was great!

Equipment Needed

For Frying: large deep pot and thermometer
                 Deep fryer with temperature control

metal tongs (for lifting, rolling, coating, etc. ...general handling of doughnuts)

cookie sheets (At least 2 for letting the doughnuts rise)

cups/cutters for preparing shapes of the doughnuts (I used one large cup to cut out the outer doughnut circle and some small fall cutters (Michael's, $4 for a pack of 6) in the shapes of acorns, pumpkins, apples and leaves for minor holes)

optional: space heater to increase kitchen temperature for dough rising

How To:

Time to get started! I'd read the recipe and watched the youtube videos. I felt ready and based on what I'd seen and read, it should only take 2 hours. I allowed 3 because sometimes the unforseen happens and sometimes pro chefs can magically do things faster than a first time preparation will go. I'm glad I started early. I learned that the projected time assumed a couple pieces of equipment were present that weren't available to me, namely, a stand mixer and willingness to use a large pot and thermometer rather than a smaller capacity deep fryer. I started the dough. The recipe reminded me that the dough would be thinner than most yeast breads. However, it was clear that the dough should be stirred until it stiffened and thickened enough to pull away from the sides of the bowl to make a ball. Let me tell you, there is a HUGE difference between a stand mixer and the arm of a grad student equipped with a wooden spoon. I didn't stop. I stirred quickly but I'm no match for a stand mixer. That factor alone more than doubled the prep time for the batter. I'd buffered an extra hour into my total time but now my time buffer was gone!

The use of a small space heater warmed my rising dough and helped trim the first rising time. The kitchen was so chilly, it would've taken quite a while to rise without the heater. While I waited on the dough to rise, I started selecting which cutters I wanted. I chose the largest cup in the cabinet to cut out the doughnut rounds. Its diameter was approximately 4 inches. When I started looking through the cabinet for a smaller container to punch a hole, I found myself concerned. I'd been convinced that a small cup or even a tropicana to go bottle would work very well to make doughnut holes. All I saw in the cabinet was too big! My mind rolled through my kitchen inventory in search of anything remotely close to the needed size (roughly a 1 inch diameter). I suddenly recalled an alternative that wasn't a circle but was the right tiny fall cookie cutters! the acorn, pumpkin, and leaves would be just the right size...not to mention super cute for fall.

I rolled out the dough and cut out the shapes leaving half the dough without holes to allow options for filling. Alton Brown recommended waiting an hour after each rolling of the dough before cutting out the next set of doughnuts. He claimed the 1st set would rise better and that this helped the second set to have enhanced lightness. Since I was short on time, I kept rolling and cutting. I was very gentle with the rolling to try to not overwork the dough. Success! I found my later cut outs were lighter than the first and I was actually most pleased with them. Using my space heater, my rising time moved along quickly.

Acorn cut out with acorn and pumpkin doughnut holes

Pumpkin cutout and other fall doughnut holes

I pulled my deep fryer from its box in the pantry and began heating the oil. As this was happening, my friend Jennifer arrived to help eat doughnuts. She brought along her son and husband too! Yay for doughnut eaters! Another friend of mine had to work a 30 hour shift but really wanted doughnuts so I had plans to bring some by to her at her work for a boost of doughnut happiness. Anywho, it was time to cook them! Using the tongs, I slid 2 doughnuts into the deep fryer at a time. Uh oh. Alton Brown cooked 4 at a time. Does anyone out there spot a time delay? Fortunately, they only took a minute or two to cook a round. After a few rounds, Jennifer felt confident enough to remove doughnuts. Then she got confident enough to add and remove. This gave me time to make a powdered sugar glaze, chocolate topping and whipped cream filling!

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1/4 c. water
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat the water and vanilla in a small sauce pot until the mixture reaches a simmer. Whisk in the powdered sugar until it is completely dissolved forming a white or clear sauce (depending on the temperature of the water before adding the powdered sugar).

Chocolate glaze/topping

1/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp butter

Heat both together for one minute at a time in a microwave. Stir after 1 minute. Repeat until mixture is smooth. This shouldn't take more than 3, one minute cycles.

Whipped Cream Filling

1 c. whipped cream
half a cup of powdered sugar

Beat the cream only until you get soft peaks. Add the sugar slowly and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat! Stop when you get stiff peaks or the mixture will separate and form butter.


With these made, it was time for assembly! As the hot doughnuts were coming out of the oil, they were removed with tongs and placed on a cookie sheet. Then I picked the doughnuts up with tongs and inserted them in the glaze. I rolled them over in the glaze to coat the surface. Once covered, I removed the doughnut with tongs and set it back on the cookie sheet. This glazing process was repeated with all the doughnuts and doughnut holes.

Doughnut with the acorn cutout inside

We added chocolate glaze to the top of some of the holed doughnuts and all of the solid doughnuts. This was a matter of warming the glaze and stirring it. We warmed the glaze until it was smooth and then either poured or spooned and smooth the glaze on top of the doughnuts. Some of the doughnut holes were simply dipped in the glaze. Since the doughnut holes were immediately consumed, there aren't photos of them. They were the perfect size for a two year old (and tempting for those greater than 2 as well)!

Glazing, coating and filling

To fill the doughnuts, I used two special tools. Tool #1 was a single chopstick. That's right, just a wooden chopstick. Tool #2 was an icing piper. If you don't have one of these, a ziplock bag with an icing tip will work too. My icing piper is small (roughly 5 inches long and 1 - 1.5 inches in diameter). It has a syringe look to it, minus the markings. I filled the tube with whipped cream. Then I used the chopstick to poke a hole into the side of the doughnut. Placing the tip of the icing piper into the hole, I injected filling into the doughnut until it was full. This is something you can feel. If in doubt, keep pushing in filling until you feel pressure pushing back at you. When you feel pressure, back the tip out and keep injecting a little so that the inside has plenty of filling. Voila.


See this smile? That's a this-doughnut-is-awesome reaction!

We enjoyed the doughnuts with milk. They were best hot but still good once cooled. Like most doughnuts, they were best the first day. I refrigerated them to help them last longer and they remained enjoyable with brief microwave heating. (Don't go much over 10 s, or you will melt the whipped cream and make a horrible mess, not that I'd know of course.) I took some over to Rebecca at work and brought a few extra at her coworkers request. They seemed to be enjoyed by all who ate them. Thanks for a great challenge!

Here's the full recipe I used for the doughnut pastries courtesy of The Daring Kitchen and Alton Brown:

Yeast Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
  1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
  2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. 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.
  4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
  5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
  6. 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 (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
  7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
  9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
  11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
  12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.


  1. Please excuse me while I go drool now...

  2. You're excused! These are definite repeats. The main downside is the time, which is close to 4 hours. However, if you don't cook them all at once, you could wait to cleanup the oil and have more hot ones later. Do you have a favorite filled or are you plain glazed all the way?