I love doughnuts but never realized how easy they are to make.
The deep-fried treats are having a moment, with gourmet doughnut shops popping up and flavours ranging from sugary sweet to decadently savoury.
Hanukkah starts on Saturday, and one of the holiday’s special foods is rich, jam-filled doughnuts, so I decided to make a batch.
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In my research I came across the best doughnuts ever at Toronto’s Café Fiorentina. Tina Leckie and Alex Chong have created a charming space where all the food is made from scratch, including Alex’s superb charcuterie and bread. Tina bakes cakes and cookies and makes memorable sandwiches and lunch-type dishes.
Tina gave me her recipe for doughnuts, though if you don’t feel like making them yourself, give her a call and she’ll make them for you.
Basically, great yeast doughnuts start with a brioche dough. Cake doughnuts (not my favourites) are made with a thick cake batter. A few caveats on deep frying: Use a wok with a wok ring or a deep pot.
If you fry at the right temperature, oil won’t be absorbed and your treats won’t be greasy.
If you don’t have a stand mixer use a hand-held mixer, but you will be beating for about 15 to 20 minutes to get the right consistency. Shape leftover dough into a loaf and bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes for brioche.
1 cup milk
1 tbsp active dry yeast (11 g, or 11 g fresh yeast, which doesn’t require activation)
4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 g) sugar
2 tsp (11 g) salt
10 tbsp (150 g) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar for coating
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Any jam makes a good filling – raspberry is a particular favourite. Some other options:
Buy lemon curd and mix with ½ cup whipped cream.
Plum and balsamic:
Heat together 1 cup plum jam and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Cool before piping into doughnuts.
Warm 2 tbsp milk in a small pot. Stir in yeast until dissolved to activate.
Combine flour with sugar, salt, eggs, remaining milk and yeast mixture in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl and repeat. Reduce speed to medium-low and add butter, 2 tbsp at a time, allowing the butter to be incorporated after each addition. Stop mixer frequently and scrape the bowl down to help dough absorb the butter better. Once all the butter is mixed in, increase speed to medium-high and beat for 4 minutes. Scrape down bowl and repeat. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl and be soft and slightly sticky.
Scrape dough into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Turn out dough onto a well-floured board and punch down to flatten. Sprinkle the top with flour. Roll out to ¼-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch cutter, cut out rounds and place on a floured surface. You will have roughly 18. Cover rounds loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
Heat enough oil to reach a 2-inch depth in a medium pot or wok over medium heat until the temperature reaches 320F. (To test if the temperature is right, drop a piece of bread in the oil – it should turn golden brown in 40 seconds.)
Drop rounds of dough into the pan and fry in batches, turning often, until doughnuts are golden on each side – about 2 minutes.
Pour sugar onto a plate. Roll warm doughnuts in sugar then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool before filling.
Place jam into a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized tip (No. 4). Push the tip about an inch into the doughnut and pipe in jam until filled.