This is my first foray in many years into the somewhat guilt-inducing world of the doughnut. But given they are such a rare treat, the guilt simply vanishes: it has to!
When eating doughnuts my penchant is for those near-spherical doughnuts that are filled with fresh jam: so hard to ignore in a bakery.
I have taken ideas from several doughnut recipes, aiming for doughnuts that have a nice richness to them rather than just being fried mounds of slightly sweet bread! The result is a batch of doughnuts that are neither too sweet nor too stodgy, certainly not greasy, with a fluffy interior and a generous filling that oozes as you take each bite.
Now, in a doughnut I don’t quite “get” custard fillings or chocolate fillings (this coming from a confirmed chocoholic!); for me the filling has to be jam. For the recipe below I used strawberry jam that I had made earlier – the sweet aroma that hits you as the jar is opened, teasingly evoking the summer to come, is a delight! The jam is sieved to get the seeds out of it – not essential but that is my preference.
A mini treat
The doughnuts can be made as large or as small as you want; I rather like miniature ones (using about 20g dough per doughnut for frying) which can either be eaten just with a dusting of sugar or they can split and filled with clotted cream and jam – wonderful as petits fours or served instead of scones for Afternoon Tea.
A savoury version
Doughnuts can also be savoury, but they are better made very small and they make tasty canapés. My favourite is a savoury version using mustard and Parmesan in the dough itself, with the cooked doughnuts rolled lightly in bacon powder (bake the bacon until it is very crisp and the crush it or pulse in a liquidier to give a powder). Filled with a little caramelised onion they are truly wonderful.
Recipe: jam doughnuts: makes 6 large doughnuts or 20 miniature doughnuts
For the doughnuts:
- 250g strong plain flour
- 40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg plus one large egg yolk, beaten
- 30g caster sugar
- 7g easy-blend yeast
- 6g salt
- approx. 120ml warm semi-skimmed milk
- vegetable oil or sunflower oil
- caster sugar to roll the doughnuts in
- 5-6 tablespoons strawberry jam, sieved – or any preferred jam
(1) Mix the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the butter, egg, egg yolk and most of the milk and mix until it comes together. Add more milk, a little at a time, if needed – you don’t want any dry bits left but you don’t want the dough to be too wet and unmanageable.
(2) Knead using a mixer with the dough hook attached for about 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough becomes elastic and smooth – it should be fairly silky and soft, yet firm enough that it holds it shape without collapsing in a heap in the bowl when you turn off the machine. Resist adding too much additional flour.
(3) Turn out onto a very lightly floured work surface and knead lightly to form a ball. Pop this back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise at room temperature until about doubled in size. This could take between an hour or a few hours depending on the temperature: don’t rush it, though – a slower rise is ideal for the final flavour; an overnight rise in the fridge does wonders for the flavour.
(4) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, knead lightly to knock out the air and cut into 6 equal pieces or, if going for miniature doughnuts, 20 pieces. Shape each into a smooth ball and then place on a baking sheet dusted very lightly with flour to stop the dough sticking. Cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to rise until doubled in size.
(5) Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer or in a saucepan until it reaches 180C. Carefully place the doughnuts into the hot fat, a few at a time. For large doughnuts cook for about 8-10 minutes, turning the doughnuts over every couple of minutes; for small doughnuts cook for about 4-5 minutes: they should be very puffy and a deep golden brown colour when they are ready.
(6) Remove from the oil and place on kitchen paper to drain off excess oil. Roll the doughnuts in the caster sugar and ensure each doughnut gets a good coating. Leave to cool.
(7) Make a hole in the doughnuts, going through the centre but not going through the other side. Put the jam into a piping bag (this is easier with a nozzle attached) and pipe jam into the hole until the jam just starts to ooze out.