I’m not even going to tell you about the first batch.
Poor Naomi and Talya (my friend and my sister-in-law, respectively). They were forced to be my tasters and if they felt anything like I felt it was a hard pill, um doughnut, to swallow. The first batch was downright awful.
As you may remember, I am trying to ‘perfect homemade doughnuts’ as one of my New Years Resolutions. Well, we’re getting near on a new year and I have a long way to go (see previous batches here and here). This time, however, I think I made some breakthroughs.
A few general discoveries …
— Use as little flour as possible to make the dough. It makes good sense to assume you’ll use quite a bit of flour when you are pressing out the doughnuts so why not just leave a nice-sized measurement of flour out of the mix? Worked great for me this time around and I plan to do it every time.
— Dough should be sticky. I guess I always thought that was an error but to make light, airy doughnuts the dough should be delicate and hard to work with. Who knew? Just take your time and don’t get frustrated.
— Contact with the dough should be as little as possible. Dough should not be overworked and, to help with this gentle treatment of the dough, I have stopped using a rolling pin. It works much better to just pat the dough out with your fingers.
— Don’t re-use dough scraps that have already been patted out because those doughnuts will just be too tough. It seems sad to throw the scraps out but once they have been worked they should not be re-worked (I suppose you could turn them into just fried scraps but I usually do not).
— Have friends on the ready to eat the doughnuts hot! It’s one thing to have a homemade doughnut a few hours after it comes out but it’s an entirely different thing (a far superior thing) to have it within minutes. It’s truly how homemade doughnuts should be enjoyed.
So, without further babbling, here is the latest recipe. I will be making this one again before the Autumn is out. These were seriously delicious and the apple taste was subtle and wonderful.
Autumn Apple Doughnuts
adapted from this NY Times recipe
1-1/2 C all purpose flour + 1/2 C more for dusting
1 C spelt flour
1 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C butter, melted and cooled
1/4 C buttermilk
1/4 C apple cider
1 C unsweetened applesauce
safflower oil for frying
Buttermilk, cider, applesauce and egg should be room temperature so set those out a few hours before you want to make your dough.
When ready, take all dry ingredients, except sugar, and mix them together in a bowl; set that aside. In another bowl combine brown sugar, melted butter, buttermilk and cider. Add egg and applesauce and mix. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix with as few strokes as possible.
Generously flour a work surface and work with one small chunk of dough (about 1/5) at a time. Flour both sides of the dough and gently pat it out to about 1/2 inch thick. The dough will be sticky; use your flour to help you along. With a floured doughnut cutter cut out doughnuts as close to each other as you can (you’re going to set aside the scraps so be mindful that you want as little waste as possible). Place the doughnuts on parchment paper on cookie sheets and once the sheets are full put them in the refrigerator to chill. Depending on the size of your doughnuts you will get anywhere from a dozen to two dozen doughnuts in total.
Turn on your oil (about 2 inches of oil in a stock pot or cast iron skillet is what you’re looking for) and gently bring it to 360–375º. If anything the temperature should be lower rather than higher. Take your time to get the oil to the correct temperature and once it’s there you can proceed. Take note: the oil temperature will drop between batches so you will want to take time to bring it back up every now and again.
Gently drop the chilled doughnuts into the hot oil a few at a time turning them over and frying them for anywhere from 2–3 minutes. They should brown slowly. When done use a spatula or little mesh strainer to bring them out of the oil and let them drain on paper towels. While hot roll them in a cinnamon and sugar mix or sprinkle with confectioners sugar (I actually eat mine plain). And as ever my recommendation is — eat them while they are warm!