>> Saturday, April 11, 2009
This doughnut recipe comes from the book "Baking with passion", by Dan Lepard. It is a traditional dumplingish recipe, similar to many used throghout Europe and the final result is very much like some doughnuts I've had in some areas of Spain. It's not difficult to make but you have to consider that the three leavening periods take time, so you better make it some day you're planning to be at home. I thought it was a great idea for some "merienda" with friends and their kids, without preservation nor coloring agents, perfect for impressing the other mothers, in spite of them being friends... By the way, I strongly recommend the book, I've already made a lot of the recipes and all were good. Here goes the recipe:
Doughnuts by Dan Lepard
Prepare the sponge mixing the yeast, plain flour and tepid milk. Mix well, cover with plastic and leave to rise at least one third in volume or until active and bubbly. The recipe calls for 2 hours rising, but my sponge doubled in half an hour, scary. This yeast I used is not superquick, it's virulent! It depends on the milk temperature though, I didn't check that it was exactly at 20 ºC. Well, my sponge almost overflowed the counter and crawled to the dining room. Apart from this dangerous virulence, once the sponge has run wild, mix it with the bread flour and the salt. You can use whatever you like for this, a stand-mixer, do it by hand, you name it. Then add the butter piece by piece and mix it thoroughly. Then the eggs all at once and mix again. Finally add the sugar, lemon peel and cinnamon. I didn't add the cinnamon, just in case some of the kids had some cinnamon trauma, and I put liquid lemon extract instead of the peel, it's easier... so what? I felt a sudden struck of laziness.
Once all the ingredients are mixed, knead the way you prefer, by hand or machine, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Then form it into a ball, place it in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic film. Leave it to double in bulk.
Once risen, put the dough on the counter and spread it so that you can cut it in 20 equal pieces (well, more or less equal, you know artisan doughnuts are very whimsical...). Roll each piece into a ball, if you've ever made sand balls at the beach you won't find it difficult. You can either make a hole putting your finger through the center to make doughnuts or just flatten them a little bit and leave them as they are to have something similar to Berliner ballen (I've got to try these some day, filled with cream...). The hole must have a minimum diameter of 2 cm and the doughnut ring must be slim, because they rise up quite a bit.
Put them on a floured surface in whatever shape you prefer, cover with a cloth and leave to rise for 40-50 minutes. I left them for a longer time, although they seemingly dried a bit too much on top because of the very dry atmosphere of the bleak arid Iberian plateau where I live, different from the humid England where the recipe comes from... Maybe I should have sprayed the cloth with some water. But the drying was not an obstacle for them to rise up another bit while frying. So once they've risen enough, fry them in a pan with a couple centimeters or less than an inch sunflower oil. Sunflower oil is recommended in Spain for frying sweetmeats, because of its mild flavor. Be careful with the oil temperature, it mustn't be too hot, because the doughnuts brown quickly. Please don't do anything else in the meantime, test the temperature and concentrate on it! Fry them around 2 minutes on one side and 1 minute on the other. The recipe advises to pat them dry with a paper towel and then cover them in sugar. I skipped the paper towel thing, didn't look like absorbing too much oil to me, so I put them in the sugar straight away (well, in fructose for my jelly rolls to grow 1 1/2 inch instead of 2 inches). You can keep them for some days in a plastic bag, but they taste much better just out of the pan. And we found them indeed delicious, very light and fluffy. The children loved them and the doughnuts they left were eaten by the adults... no food wasted at my place!