Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October Daring Bakers' Challenge - Donuts

It's that time of month again, and I have to warn you - this is going to be a long one!

Like most kitchen dabblers, I have a list. Well, not a written list, but a list none the less. It is a list of those things that I would like to try to make one day, but just haven't. The list is made up of things that are usually a bit complicated, or that require specialized equipment, or that I am just a bit scared to make. But crossing things off of that list is always so exciting. And I always feel extra accomplished when I make something from the list.

This month's Daring Bakers' challenge gave me the opportunity to knock something off of my list.

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I was so excited to read this challenge. The main reason that I had put off making donuts is that I was pretty scared of the whole deep-frying thing. Something about dropping dough into a pot full of super hot oil, especially with my four year old kitchen helper, always had me... well... a little nervous. But I have wanted to try my hand at homemade donuts, anyway, and this challenge was just the incentive I needed.

Lori provided us with four different recipes, each looking more delicious than the next, so the first step was deciding which one to try first. I decided to start with Alton Brown's recipe for yeast donuts, as, believe it or not, this was one of the recipes that originally peaked my interest in trying homemade donuts. Little miss was more than happy to help, and I was more than happy to let her help out with as much of the process as she could, since she wouldn't be able to help once we got to the whole hot oil part. She took a very active role in the dough preparation, from breaking eggs to measuring to mixing. The dough came together very easily, though is very different from other yeast-dough recipes that I have made. This is a high-hydration yeast dough, and is thus much softer and "wetter" than most yeast-doughs that I have worked with. I was really glad to have my KitchenAid mixer to help out with the kneading, because it would have been very difficult to do so by hand. Once the dough was kneaded, the recipe calls for it to rise for an hour at room temperature. Like several of the Daring Bakers, I chose to allow my dough to rise in the refrigerator overnight, so that we could tackle the shaping and frying the next day.

The next morning, our dough had risen more than double, and had also become a bit easier to handle, so little miss and I were ready to try our hands at turning the dough into actual donuts. I gathered the necessary equipment and we set to work. As the dough was still a bit sticky, we lightly floured our counter and used our hands to gently press out the dough, rather than rolling it with a rolling pin, then set out cutting our shapes. We used round cookie cutters to make traditionally shaped donuts, using an apple corer to cut out the center holes, and a couple of other cookie cutters to try our hands at other shapes, too, just to see how they would fry up in the oil. After much dough rolling (pressing), shape cutting and many sprinkles of flour, we soon had three trays covered in round donuts with holes, round donuts without holes in case we wanted to try filling them, the itty bitty donut holes, and a few assorted shapes just for fun.

And then it was time to bite the bullet and heat the oil.

I am not sure if you can see it in the picture, but my candy thermometer actually has a little hash mark indicating "donuts," so minding the burner temperature and keeping a close eye, I was soon ready to pop the donuts into the oil. Little miss's job for this (from the other side of the kitchen, of course) was to help me pick which donuts would go into the oil in what order. And after the first couple, I even began to feel confident about the whole frying process. These fried up really quickly (about 30 seconds per side was plenty), and we soon had trays of tasty looking golden donuts.

But were we done? No way! Our donuts, though delicious, were naked, and needed just a bit more... fun.

So we rolled our traditionally shaped donuts in cinnamon sugar.










And then we took the round donuts without holes, piped in some raspberry jam, and rolled those in caster sugar.









These were so tasty. It was seriously difficult to not eat large, large quantities of them right away. It is actually really amazing how much better these were, especially right away, than any store bought donuts I have ever had. Little miss and I pretty much devoured all of the little donut holes instantaneously, as they were just so easy to pop right in our mouths. We immediately packed some up to share with various family members, and others went right into the freezer to be enjoyed later. They were just too dangerous to leave out.

But, once again, we were not done. Lori had offered up four different recipes for us to try, and I wasn't ready to call the challenge complete only having tried one of them. Being that it is fall, that it is the harvest season, I just had to try the recipe for pumpkin donuts, as well. I mean, how can you resist making cake donuts out of fresh pumpkin puree? I sure couldn't, so we sure didn't.

Once again, little miss handled much of the dough-making for these donuts. This dough, much to my surprise, was even wetter and stickier than the yeast dough had been, which made it a bit easier for little miss to mix by hand, but made things a bit tougher when it came time to rolling and shaping. With generous amounts of flour sprinkled on the counter, our hands, the dough and, consequently, much of the kitchen, we were able to get started, though, and managed to shape our donuts. Little miss chose, very appropriately, to not only use our round cookie cutters, but to also use our pumpkin shaped cookie cutters for these donuts.

These donuts, like the yeast ones, fried up very quickly, but that is pretty much where the similarities ended. This dough was much denser than the yeast dough, so the donuts sank into the hot oil a little bit more, so I had to be very careful not to allow the bottoms to burn. These donuts also soaked in more of the oil during the frying process than the yeast donuts did. I was glad that I had made the yeast donuts first, because they gave me the confidence I needed to more readily manage the frying of these slightly heavier donuts.

Once these donuts were fried and drained on paper towels, we decided to try a different method of finishing them, rather than rolling them in sugar like we did with the others. To compliment the flavor of the pumpkin donuts, we made a maple glaze using confectioners sugar, pure maple syrup and heavy cream.

The finished donuts were delicious, and tasted absolutely perfect for the season. Little miss has already requested that I make these again. I think that next time I make them, I will try baking them rather than frying them, as many of my fellow Daring Bakers had tremendous success baking their donuts, and it would definitely alleviate some of the guilt associated with eating as many donuts as having a full batch of them freshly made tends to lead to...

Lori, I can't thank you enough for this amazing and delicious challenge. It was just the kick I needed to try something that had been on my to-try list for quite some time, and it was so fun and delicious.

To check out some of the other amazing, delicious and creative donuts prepared by the other Daring Bakers, check them out here.

46 comments:

  1. Wow, Shelley, you made quite a variety! Those look delicious and there is nothing like a hot doughnut. Nice job on the challenge!

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  2. Totally agree about the doughnuts tasting better than store bought, wonderful that your wee girl is doing all that baking :)

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  3. I love that you bake with your little girl, I love baking with my Mom when I was little! Great job on the challenge, must try rolling mine in cinnamon next time :)

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  4. I also have a list of things I'd like to make one day (about 60 things so far and still not complete) :) I must agree that the yeast doughnuts are divine! And now I just wish I could make these pumpkin ones, too (oh, now my list contains 61 things) :D
    Great job, really§

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  5. Shelley, I love how you write your detailed step-by-step process with the help of your cuttie Sous Chef. You seem to be having so much fun together! Your doughnuts look amazing and I totally agree with you that when they are warm, it's absolutely irresistible! Thanks for your (always) lovely and encouraging comment on my post!

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  6. You doughnuts look so great and have a lovely colour to them. So glad it was doughnuts this month, else i'd never have tried to do them!

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  7. I love your process shots. I bet your little helper loves helping out in the kitchen. Great job on the challenge.

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  8. Beautiful donuts!!
    Going to look at your Cranberry Crockpot Beef recipe now :)

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  9. Your pumpkin ones look divine! Thanks for commenting on mine :)

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  10. Ooh...love your step by step pictures and your little helper is sooo cute... well done :)

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  11. Bravo! All of your doughnuts look delicious, and I certainly understand how hard it is to avoid eating them at once!

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  12. I love that you didn't stop at one recipe! That's so awesome. I also adore that your little one and my husband had the same idea! ;)

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  13. Yummy!! The maple glazed donuts look so delicious!! Great job, congratulations to you and your very cute sous chef :)

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  14. I'm glad you enjoyed the challenge and that the doughnuts were such a hit with your family. They all look fantastic!

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  15. I see you got sucked into making many varieties too. :) I'm glad to hear you liked the pumpkin - I will definitely be trying them and I like your idea of baking the next batch. Great job!

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  16. I will never by store bought doughnuts again. The ones you made look great. Super job

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  17. Beautiful doughnuts! The look delicious. :) Fantastic job on the challenge! Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind words!

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  18. I'm tempted to try jam-filled doughnuts next, especially after seeing yours! Maybe after a little break...too many sweets in the kitchen these days. Wonderful post.

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  19. They look delicious and how could they be anything but when you had such a good kitchen helper?!

    I really must try the pumpkin doughnuts.

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  20. Those look so delicious. I'm incredibly jealous of your whole family and everyone you know—well, assuming they actually got their hands on any of these yummy donuts!

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  21. They look absolutely scrumptious. Love the photos too...

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  22. I love the variety of doughnuts. The pumpkin with the maple glaze are calling my name! YUM! Nice job Shelley!

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  23. Wow, you guys really outdid yourselves on this challenge! All of the doughnuts look super tasty and I definitely can't resist anything with maple glaze!

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  24. My candy thermometer has a donuts mark too. Makes things so easy.}:P

    LOvely job! Kudos to little miss!

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  25. Your doughnuts look fantastic! I can't believe you were able to knock out so many varieties - great job!

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  26. I agree, the frying part is more than a little scarey! :-o You've made me want to give the baked pumpkin doughnuts a try - the maple glaze sounds delicious! xxx

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  27. Great job this month, on both doughnuts, and for all your kind and supportive comments on the forums! I wish I had had time to make the pumpkin ones, as I love fresh pumpkin season. Your daughter looks like she loves the kitchen and is a great helper. Reminds me of myself when I was a kid.
    :)

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  28. Time to make the donuts lol. I had the chance to scratch out a must do recipe to. I think you both did a fab job, as always.

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  29. You did it in style Shelley, and I adore your little kitchen helper! SWEET! Your results are all fab! Well done with the challenge

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  30. Wow you and your little one certainly kept yourselves busy! It easier deep frying than we thought, isn't it! I never used to but now I'll try it more often. Waistline permitting, of course!

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  31. Man, you really outdid yourself! Great variety and love the pumpkin shapes for the pumpkin donuts. :)

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  32. Both yeast and pumpkin donuts turned out beautifully.... Bravo for knocking out one recipes from your baking list :-)

    Sawadee from Bangkok,
    Kris

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  33. Those pumpkin doughnuts look delicious : ) What sweet memories you are making with your daughter!

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  34. What a marvellous posting I LOVE how your sous chef was so useful and you did both versions and that the deep frying went so well and without incident. Superb effort and wondrous results it looks like you have a keeper of a recipe. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

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  35. Great job on the challenge. I can't belive you made so many doughnuts.

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  36. You did such a great job on this challenge! The pumpkin donuts are such a cool idea and I looove that your rolled the plain ones in cinnamon sugar. Yum!

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  37. Shelley, you hit this one out of the park, Mama! Both your jelly filled and pumpkin cake donuts turned out beautiful. Love the maple glaze. I am dying to try that recipe, but was thinking of a white chocolate and maple glaze..mmmm.

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  38. Love the idea of the pumpkin doughnuts. They look fantastic!

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  39. Naked or dressed, your doughnuts look and must taste better than store-bought. And what a lot you made!

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  40. Mm, the doughnuts look so lovely and fluffy and such perfect shapes too. I think I'll have to try the pumpkin ones - they look beautiful. I know what you mean about how moreish fresh doughnuts are. I could have demolished the lot!

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  41. Hi Shelly, wonderful doughuts and I also wanted to thank you for all the positive feedback and encouragement you give on the forum - I know how much time that takes (I do it daily as a full-time special needs teacher), hence my time on here is limited so it's great that there are 3 of you that keep a constant eye on the posts :)

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  42. Those look so perfect and delicious! Homemade doughnuts are the best. Great job here.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  43. they look delicious and well done!

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  44. Well done on making two batches of doughnuts, tehy both sound great. And little miss is such a dab hand in the kitchen!

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  45. Your doughnuts look fabulous! I wouldn't mind one of those raspberry jam filled doughnuts now :)

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