Sunday, April 15, 2007

Let them eat cake--doughnuts, that is

Ever since my husband and I moved to Seattle, I've been obsessed with doughnuts and other sweet, cakey things. That's probably because we seem to be surrounded by them--the world-famous Top Pot Doughnuts is just a short walk away, and the Pike Place Market (with its wondrous Pike Place Bakery) is similarly close.

I certainly don't mind walking to get a pastry now and then--in fact, I prefer it--and the creations we buy at Top Pot and Pike Place Bakery aren't going to break the bank (doughnuts run about $1.50 each, while rolls and other goodies come in around $2.50), but I always prefer making something myself if it's any sort of possibility.

So, this weekend I decided to try my hand at making my own cake doughnuts. Although I ran into a few problems along the way and ended up with less-than-perfect pastries, I think the end result will be more positive for those who actually have all the ingredients on hand when they start the process and don't have to wait a few days before frying them up.

Classic Cake Doughnuts

¼ cup vegetable shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 cup canned evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 - 4.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

Melt the shortening in a small saucepan over medium heat. Set aside to cool slightly but still liquid.

In a standing mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and shortening together on medium speed until just combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the milk and vanilla and combine until the mixture is light, about two minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt into a medium bowl.

Reduce the mixer’s speed to low and add the flour mixture until just combined. (The texture of the dough will be soft and loose). Transfer dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap it well (make sure you scrape off all the dough clinging to the paddle). Refrigerate the dough for four hours or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the chilled dough out into a rectangle about ½-inch thick. Dip the edges of a 2 ½-inch-round doughnut cutter in flour and cut the dough into doughnuts. Place the doughnuts and holes on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Put enough vegetable oil or shortening into a tall, heavy bottomed put (or skillet) to fill it about 1/3 of the way to the top. Heat the shortening over medium heat until a thermometer inserted into the oil registers 360-375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Working in batches, fry the doughnuts and holes, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towels to drain and cool. Repeat until all the doughnuts and holes are fried. (Make sure the oil or shortening returns to about 375 degrees F. between batches).

For sugared doughnuts, roll in sugar and cinnamon sugar while still warm. If covering in confectioners’ sugar, let doughnuts cool before rolling in the sugar.

Another possibility: top with a sugary frosting and some sprinkles. To make the frosting, put approximately one cup of confectioners' sugar in a small bowl and add one or two teaspoons of milk (for my doughnuts, I added one drop of red food coloring as well). Stir until smooth, adding more milk as needed to achieve a thick but spreadable frosting. Spread onto cooled doughnuts and top with sprinkles.


janet said...

How do you make the vegan version of these? Just use egg-substitute?

Bryan Ochalla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, substitute egg replacer for the real eggs and soy milk for the evaporated milk. I'm not really sure why the eggs are needed at all, to tell you the truth, except for richness.