When I was a small boy (well, I guess I was never really that small in all honesty but bear with me!), around nine or 10, I would save all my pocket money and buy cookery books on cakes, buns and all things sugary (which probably has a lot to do with why I never was that small!).
I’d lock my parents out of the kitchen and get down to business — fairy cakes, scones, pancakes, biscuits etc. One of my most memorable culinary achievements at that age was making doughnuts from start to finish — yeast dough, cut-out and resting to proof, crispy-fried, filled with jam and dusted with icing sugar. In the late ’70s-early ’80s, there was no cooking on TV and definitely no Junior MasterChef in those days or I would have definitely won!
Since those days, I’ve made all manner of doughnuts and doughnut-type things — from the simplest of ring doughnuts to the French Beignet, the Spanish Churro, the Jersey Jumbles and even the Vada, which has to be a doughnut in shape and crispy-crunchy form if not in its sweetness.
I’m going to give you three recipes this week that anyone can make at home with a little effort and patience. A simple doughnut recipe, simple frosting and filling recipes that you can use as a base for all manner of flavours.
Making the doughnut
You’ll need to start off with a big mixing bowl and 500g of sifted strong flour, 10g of salt, 30g of castor or icing sugar and 30g of butter. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until you have something that resembles fine breadcrumbs.
In a smaller bowl, dissolve 15g of fresh yeast in 100g of lukewarm milk. Whisk in an egg and a few drops of vanilla essence and pour this mixture into the centre of the dry flour mixture. Start to bring the whole mixture together into a dough. If it’s a little dry, add some more milk and knead the dough for 5 minutes. Cover and set aside to double in size.
Once doubled in size, knead the dough for another 3 minutes and roll out to around half inch. Cut out with a pastry cutter or cup/glass and make a smaller hole in the middle if you wish.
Cover for another 30 minutes, then deep-fry in hot, fresh vegetable oil for around 2 minutes on each side. Place on a cooling rack to cool down for filling and decorating later, or toss immediately in castor sugar with a little powdered cinnamon and eat either on their own or dunked in chocolate sauce!
I’m going to make this as simple as possible for you. To start, place 40g of custard powder and 60g of sugar into a mixing bowl with 50ml of milk, whisk together and set aside. Next, pour 500ml of milk into a saucepan and bring it to boil. Once boiling, pour over the custard powder mixture whilst whisking as you go, then pour it back into the saucepan and allow it to boil slowly for around 30 seconds, still whisking.
Strain the mixture into a clean bowl and whisk in 20g of butter, cover with cling film and refrigerate until needed. Once chilled, give it another good whisk and flavour with whatever you want, from vanilla, coffee and chocolate to toasted sesame, fresh strawberries and bourbon.
This has to be the simplest of frosting recipes and it reminds me, once again, of my childhood. Place around 100g of icing sugar into a bowl, add a couple of drops of vanilla essence and a little milk to start with, around 1tsp, and start to mix together. Add more small quantities as you keep mixing together until you have a glossy, but not too runny, coating that you can dip the doughnuts in and it sticks without running off or soaking in. Again, flavour as you want. To give you an idea, I think a great combination could be a custard-filled hazelnut doughnut, frosted with white chocolate and coffee and dipped in dark chocolate flakes.
Have fun and enjoy!
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