Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Donut Lesson

The doughnuts found in chain shops always seem to look more impressive that they taste, aside from a few good establishments, e.g. Starbucks, Go Nuts Donuts, and Dots & More. A doughnut is a yeasted white rich dough, golden fried and usually dipped in sugary glazes. I love making them, sniffing them, dressing them up and eating them. It is seldom that I consume these rings of delights though, those killer calories never fail to stop me in my tracks.
Can you see the halo?
Oh, but indulgence is bliss. I was in The Fort with my guy C, we were just leaving the Pedigree Show in which he joined, when I felt a sudden tug of desire. Stopping by Go Nuts Donuts, I got a box of premium goodness. Being hungry, tired and all, it was a blissful no-guilt kind of sugar-high. My Amazing Glaze was tender and light, yet with chew, a tad sweet but heck, it is more of a pastry than bread anyway.
Speaking of which, another kind of doughnut is what we call a chemically-leavened doughnut. It requires no rising and is the way to go if you're tight on time, but want a tasty, not too sweet accompaniment with your afternoon coffee. To achieve a tender chemically-leavened doughnut, the dough should be moist and tacky and mixed only until smooth. Too much gluten development is not desired in this kind of dough, unlike in yeasted doughnuts, because the leaveners can only do so much in providing the necessary lift for the dough, without having to deal with protein strands weighing it down.
They say that a good indication of a properly fried doughnut is the ring of white you see on it's side. This shows the levelness of the frying oil and the stability of the dough. When frying batter-like doughs, it is a MUST that they should be chilled first, to make them more malleable and stable, not to mention, easier to cut. Lightly flour your hands, table and cutter to help ease sticky doughs.
The chocnut looks streusel-like!
When rolling out the dough, it should be no more or less than 1/2 inch thick. Thinner doughs will make for squat doughnuts; too thick ones will take a longer time to cook inside, resulting to too brown or burnt crust. The cut should be as close to each other as possible, to avoid having a lot of scraps to reroll. Remember that every rerolling will make for a tougher doughnut, and this is true for both chemically-leaved and yeasted ones.
The ideal frying temperature is 375degrees F. Be sure to bring the temperature up in between frying because once the doughnuts are placed, there is usually a 5-10degree loss in temperature. Fry until golden brown, about 30-40 seconds per side. Let cool on wire racks before applying glaze.
Vanilla Glaze- whisk together 1/2 C evaporated milk, 3 C sifted icing sugar, and 1 t vanilla extract. Dip cooled doughnuts, shaking off any excess, transfer to wire racks and let set.
Chocolate Glaze - Melt 4ounces semisweet chocolate with 1/2 C evaporated milk. Whisk with 2 C sifted icing sugar.
Cinnamon-Sugar - Mix 1 C granulated sugar with 1 T (or less) cinnamon.
Yeasted Doughnuts*
3-31/4 C all-purpose flour
21/4 t yeast
6 T sugar
1/2 t salt
2/3 C whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 T unsalted butter
6 C vegetable shortening

1. Whisk together 3 C flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Set aside.
2. Place milk and eggs in a mixing bowl, add the flour mixture and with the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed, until a ball of dough forms, 3-4 minutes.
3. Add softened butter, a tablespoon at a time. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes longer, adding the remaining flour 1 T at a time if necessary. The dough should form a soft ball.
4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 1 1/2 - 2 hours (depending on room humidity).
5. Roll out dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch on a floured surface. Let rest if the dough resists rolling. Using a 21/2-3" doughnut cutter, cut as close as possible. Gather scraps, let rest, and reroll.
6. Loosely cover doughnuts and let rise until puffy, 30-45 minutes.
7. Fry the doughnuts when the candy thermometer registers 375deg F, 30-40 seconds per side.

*recipe from Baking Illustrated by America's Test Kitchen.

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