June 17, 2007

Baked Doughnuts Three Ways: Vanilla Bean, Green Tea & Chocolate




Ingredients:
5 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1 2/3 cup warm milk
3/4 cup sugar plus more for dipping
1/4 oz instant yeast
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled PLUS 3 additional tablespoons (set aside)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

CHOOSE ONE:

3 tablespoons matcha (green tea powder)
5 tablespoons dutch process cocoa
2 tablespoons vanilla paste

Directions:
Whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla and vanilla paste (if making vanilla bean doughnuts). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and either the cocoa or the matcha (if making chocolate or matcha doughnuts). Slowly stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until a dough forms. Flour a counter top and knead, adding more flour a tablespoon at a time as needed, until a very slightly sticky, elastic ball of dough forms. Place in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise, about 1 hour or until it has doubled in bulk. Punch down, and roll it out on a floured surface until it is about 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch thick. If you have a doughnut cutter, use that to cut out the doughnuts. If not, use a small cutter to make doughnut "holes" or improvise using a drinking glass or large cookie cutters and smaller cutters to make the holes. You could also make round, biscuit sized doughnuts with no holes. Place the doughnuts on 2 greased cookie sheets, cover with a towel and allow to rise an additional hour. Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the additional 3 tablespoons of butter. Pour some (granulated) sugar on a plate. Bake the doughnuts exactly 6 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Brush each doughnut with melted butter and dip in sugar. Serve hot, although they are still pretty good at room temperature. Store up to 1 day (but eating them immediately is preferred) in a air tight container.
My thoughts:
I've seen various recipes for baked doughnuts and was wanted to give it a shot. I am sure doughnut purists would sneer at the mere thought of a baked doughnut but I honestly didn't think I'd miss the frying. Doughnuts, while typically fried, are not like fried chicken or onion rings where the crisp crust you can only get from frying is the star, and the best doughnuts don't have a trace of grease. I did some experimentation and came up with this master recipe, with three variations. It is incredibly easy, it basically just a sweet bread dough, very low in fat, light and tender. The addition of the various favors (why don't bakeries flavor their dough? I've thought for years that would the next logical step in doughnut making) give you a very flavorful sweet that only needs a roll in sugar.