I never met a donut I didn’t like. Those fried yeasty rings of saccharine indulgence always seem to crush any sort of will power I may have to resist them. There’s no escape, but only to yield to the inexorable temptation that they put forward; and what they put forward sounds like a really good offer- yeasted dough fried up then coated in a sprinkling of sugar and spice, oh that sounds real nice! And having been introduced in 2003 to the beguiling and sinister powers of Krispy Kreme after they set up shop here in Oz; the donut has been given a new evil persona. You just know there is something so sinfully wrong about them, but it’s not until downing five consecutive Original Glazed™ that the shameful recognition of what you’ve done becomes apparent.
What is it about the excessive consumption of donuts that brings so much shame? It certainly never stoped Homer Simpson, but neither does an all you can eat buffet until he has eaten all he can physically eat. But that aside, is it because that they boast such an unhealthy reputation? Fried and sweet, the double-edged sword that makes this junk food particularly lethal. Whatever it is, I know that I would rather be caught in a pair of hot pink 80’s leggings than scoffing down a whole box of donuts.
A donut here and there I have been known to enjoy, however when it comes to making them for myself I have always been the reluctant one. For one, I have never had any luck with anything that involves that recalcitrant fungus- yeast. I know that it is probably more a shortcoming on my part, but I guess it’s easier to blame the yeast and avoid it for the most part than to admit that I am incapable of working with it. And secondly, I hate to fry, especially deep fry. It usually takes all my resolve to bring myself to even pour some oil to shallow fry, the only exception are eggs, as I just love fried eggs but then again they require hardly any oil, but other than that I hate anything to do with frying. I have been known to fry but only for special occasions.
I enjoy donuts but like most people, when it comes to the frying part, I like to leave it up to those who actually get paid to get the burn marks. Besides the harrowing prospect of sustaining third-degree burns, I hate that oily smog that seems to descend upon the entire house as soon as something is fried, it sticks to everything and you get that greasy film all over the kitchen. I know that many people share this sentiment because I happened upon Heidi’s blog (which I tend to frequent a lot, I mean how could you not?) and her attitude to frying is much the same.
Which brings me to this recipe for Baked Donuts, which I pinched from Heidi’s blog. This is more than a great alternative to traditional donuts; evidently they aren’t fried, although all the other components are there- yeast, flour, eggs and sugar, just without being immersed in a boiling pool of fat. If you are yet to be convinced, then I suggest just giving Heidi’s recipe a go. She spent a whole afternoon perfecting the recipe so really all the work is done for you. I even looked past my frayed relationship with yeast and gave it a right old rip.
Okay I must admit they don’t taste exactly like fried donuts, as they’re baked, not fried. But they can be just as satisfying. And if you happen to down more than you should have, just know that at least they weren’t previously swimming in a vat of oil and allow yourself that extra piece or two.
These donuts I paired with a glass of warm hot cocoa, I crusted the rims with the leftover cinnamon sugar I had from dusting the donuts. Just dip the rims into the melted butter, then dip them into the sugar and shake off the excess gently and you have yourself a sugar-crusted glass. Easy. If you don't want to use melted butter, you can use egg whites, but i didn't have any on hand, so the melted butter does the job just as good.
And if you happen to be an American, you should be lucky to know that this Friday, 1st June is National Donut Day. Check out how this blogger is celebrating such a holiday.
Baked Nutmeg and Cinnamon Donuts
recipe adapted from here
makes 30 mini donuts
special equipment: donut cutter (alternatively two circular cookie cutters will do, one bigger than the other)
5 cups plain all-purpose flour
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of sea salt
1½ cups full cream milk, warmed*
1 packet active dry yeast (in Australia, most come in 7g packets)
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup raw sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Sift flour, nutmeg and seas salt together in a large bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Place ½ cup of the milk in another bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside.
Stir in the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture.
Whisk in the eggs using a fork and add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients.
Mix until the flour has taken up the yeast mixture.
If your dough is too dry add a little bit of milk at a time. If your dough is too sticky, then add a little bit of flour, until the dough becomes smooth enough to handle without sticking too much to your hands.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for two minutes.
Shape into a ball and place into a lightly oiled or buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm area away from drafts.
Allow an hour or so for the dough to double I size, depending on the temperature.
Prepare 5 baking trays with parchment paper.
When the dough has risen, remove the dough from the bowl and punch down. Roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about ½-inch thickness.
Using your cutter cut out donuts. Cut the outer circle first, then transfer to lined baking trays and then cut out the donut holes (smaller circle)**.
Cover trays with a clean cloth and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
Bake the donuts for about 8 minutes; do not allow them to get brown.
While donuts are baking, set up your butter and combine sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.
Remove donuts from oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes.
Dip each donut into the melted butter and give it a quick toss in the cinnamon sugar.
*Make sure not to over heat the milk, the temperature should be just tepid so as not to kill the yeast.
**Ensure that the holes are at least 2cm in diameter as that the holes will close more after rising and baking.
ALTERNATIVELY: You can ice some of the donuts by combining ½ cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar and 2 tsp milk Add some more milk if necessary so that icing is drizzling consistency. Place donuts on a wire rack and drizzle icing over the donuts. Allow the icing to harden.