Those of you who’ve found my Facebook page will know last week, I rejoined the gym. Today, I went for the first time – which makes it the first time since the day before my wedding… 18 months ago. Ok, it’s not as horrendous as it sounds – I’ve bought a bike and dabbled with jogging but honestly, I’m just not an outdoorsy person. My countryside-reared, vegetable patch owning, make-do-and-mend father is so exasperated at this stiletto wearing, fancy handbag carrying, car driving city girl of his.
I’ve returned to the refuge of the gym – the workout classes to be exact. After the 12 years I spent pounding the treadmill and pumping iron on the weights before I became a Mrs, I’ve been left rather uninspired. So, spin or dance classes, it is for me, after all, what city girl doesn’t love popping on the tunes and bopping away in their room, perhaps singing loudly (and in my case, badly) into a hairbrush?
Any calories burnt go undetected by one’s “effort-ometer” and actually, it’s much less painful than running on the spot, trying not to stare at one’s muffin tops wibble-wobbling away in the mirror before you! Plus, it makes you feel you’ve actually earned the right to eat these sweet Little Pillows from Heaven…
If you are of the opinion that making your own donuts is a step too far, that it must be fraught with difficult techniques and dangerous vats of boiling fat then you sound like me! Well, the “me” until I read a recipe for baked donuts in my latest edition of Olive magazine and tried them for myself, hoping and praying that they would be as wonderful as a deep fried delight from a donut van parked in the middle of town, if not Krispy Kreme itself!
It took some time as there are two rises for this yeasted dough but any tricky moulding of the balls is eliminated by simply stamping out 5-6cm diameter soft disks with a plain scone cutter. The danger now is in the ease of making these light as a feather, sweet treats – not the in the impending doom felt by the sight of the pan of oil, perched precariously atop the hob…
The recipe does stipulate a stand mixer and a scone cutter but there the fancy equipment ends. You *could* do it by hand, but it’s very sticky dough that would be a challenge to knead by hand. I changed the method to make it more streamlined by adding the soft butter to the scalded milk and I never activate yeast as it’s simply not necessary. I was worried, I must admit, that I’d end up with the Stone Henge of Donuts but the super soft, supremely light and airy sweet baby buns all came out of the oven looking every bit the part that they do from the ubiquitous Mr Donut van, littered across the country from what I can tell.
They did double in size again so end up about 12cm across when finished but honestly, they feel lighter than Tinkerbell. Brushing the whole lot with a mere 25g of melted butter (and I didn’t even need that much, though I was slapping it on with abandon) was another step I feared would render these buns rather too virtuous in taste but again, I was wrong! Having only ever deep fat fried once I vowed never to do it again, it was so obscenely naughty I felt guilty just placing one on my plate, I never thought I’d ever get to make my own donuts! But let me reassure you, these baked donuts taste every bit as good as deep fat fried ones, I promise.
If you have this edition of Olive too, you’ll see that they entitle the recipe “mini jam donuts”. I have entitled my version of the recipe “Orange and Raspberry Jam Donuts”. This is not by mistake. The reason I did this was that the first taste you get as you sink your teeth into one of these sugar-coated puffs of dough is very most definitely orange. Refreshing, light, summery. Even in bleakest February. The raspberry taste of the jam comes later and you finish with the archetypical jam donut flavour. So all in all, what Olive has produced is a lighter version of a much loved old classic, adding to the flavour and texture rather than taking away from it. Which, in my opinion, is a rare thing when seeking to make a naughty treat a halo-endowed version. So, now I have a reason to go back to the gym tomorrow – to burn off enough calories that I may have another sweet pillow from heaven before I box up the remainder for a friend to collect from me later, taking sweet temptation from my path ;)
- 425 g strong white bread flour
- 10 g dried yeast
- 75 g caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Zest of an orange
- 2 medium eggs
- 75 g room temp butter
- 175 ml milk
- 4-5 tbsp raspberry jam
- 25 g melted butter for brushing with
- 6 tbsp caster sugar for rolling in
Pop your flour, yeast, salt, sugar, zest and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Heat the milk to just below the boil then drop in your 75g butter, whisking well to combine.
Start the stand mixer up to combine ingredients in the bowl on low speed - pour on the milk mixture in a steady stream.
Continue to knead for 5 minutes until you have a stretchy, very thick batter (don't worry - it doesn't come together in a ball like a yeasted bread dough does).
Cover with oiled cling and leave to prove for about 1 hour (just go by eye).
Tip the dough onto a well floured surface and knead for about 30 seconds.
Pat out to 1cm thick and use a 5-6cm plain round pastry cutter.
Pop each soft disk onto a lined baking tray (I always use reusable silicone paper - "Bake-o-Glide").
Cover with oiled cling once more and leave to prove again until doubled in size and fear not if they rise a little unevenly! Baking them will sort them out!
Preheat your oven to 180°C as the donuts prove.
Bake for a mere 10-12 minutes in the centre of the oven until risen, puffed, very lightly golden and you can just about smell them waft out of the oven - I did mine one tray at a time (the second cooked a touch quicker in the hot oven).
Once cooked, brush all over generously with the melted butter, top and bottom then carefully, toss each donut in a shallow dish filled with the caster sugar (I always use vanilla caster sugar) then leave to cool.
By the time all the donuts are coated in butter & sugar you can start poking holes in them with a chopstick or thick skewer - just twirl enough to make a hole into the centre of the donut.
Fill a small piping bag (or strong food bag if not) with the jam -poke the tip into the donut and squeeze until you just see the jam reach the surface (any more and it will overflow!).
These are undoubtedly best on the same day of making, which is the same for traditional deep fried donuts.
Adapted from Olive magazine
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