I've honesty wanted to write a blog for ages. Years if I'm really honest. But I found it so intimidating with so many awesome blogs out there, as if I'd have anything really unique to contribute to the flood. As it turns out, I do. I have been thinking about this exact post for weeks and while making a million macarons by hand these last few weeks I'd begin the essence of this exact post in my head over and over again. I am not trying to recreate the wheel here, what I want to do is not just post glorious photos of delicious sweet things being prepared, then eaten sumptuously by me (mostly!) I want this to be the beginning of a long journey of learning and discovery. I want to help others become better bakers while sharing my passion and knowledge of all things sweet with everyone who crosses my path. I want to create a space that anyone can come to with baking questions and find delicious answers.
Over the next few weeks you'll see some exciting changes happening here! Firstly,this blog will be updated at least once a week with fresh ideas and recipes that anyone can try, including all the tips, tricks and techniques that I love and are on trend! I'll also be creating a subscription library of premium recipes, including those from my hands on classes. Most of these will also have a video element so you can watch exactly how the recipe is prepared! In addition members be invited to join a secret Facebook group where you can ask questions from me and other members to share your baking achievements! Everyone is welcome to join, from baking novices to the most experienced. I hope you are just as excited about all of this as I am!!
So, without further ado, I bring you the only doughnut recipe you will ever need!
You will just love these pillowy soft doughnuts, I promise! they are super easy to create especially if you have a stand mixer. I just had my first weekend off for what feels like months and love the process of hand kneading so I didn't but that's not to say it can't be done. Do which ever works for you!
500g strong bread flour
60g castor sugar
15 g fresh or 8g instant dry yeast
4 whole large eggs
150mls whole milk, warmed to 30 degrees
125g very soft unsalted butter
finely grated zest from one lemon
Preparing your recipe
The first thing I tell everyone who comes to my classes in try to be as organised as you can when baking - anything! The more organised you are the less is likely to go wrong! I love weighing everything out in tiny little bowls before getting started, it makes me feel super organised.
As soon as this shot was taken I literally poured the sugar, eggs (which i briefly mixed together with a fork with the milk), zest from the lemon and instant yeast into the bowl with the flour, done. I started mixing everything together by hand then added in the salt and lastly, the butter a little at a time. The mix transforms over a few minutes from a lumpy mess to a beautiful silky smooth ball of elastic dough...
Of course you could do this whole step in a stand mixed with the dough hook attached. Leave the dough to knead on speed 6-8 for about 10 - 15 minutes. If you're doing this by hand you can either knead continuously for the same amount of time or try this fantastic no-knead technique I've recently read about! It is seriously amazing, but does mean your dough takes a bit longer to prepare. In all honesty though, we're talking additional fermentation time for the yeast which for these doughs is hardly ever a bad thing.
The NO KNEAD solution
Mix everything together in a bowl and leave at room temperature for about 10 minutes to allow the flour to fully absorb all of the moisture. My recent reading suggests that the flour becomes fully saturated within 10 to 15 minutes, this additional time also lets the flour rest and glutens to become soft. There is no need to be super precise with these times either, so if you're a few minutes out it's no big deal. Once 10 minutes is up begin kneading the dough. This dough is super soft so it's less kneading and more vigorous mixing but it only lasts a couple of minutes or so before you wipe a clean bowl with some flavourless oil and plop the dough back in for another 10 minutes. I find this technique excellent because I'm not tied to the bench for 10 - 15 minutes vigorously kneading dough, I can chase my toddler around the house or do whatever whilst working on this amazing dough! As anything yeast related, the longer the bulk fermentation time the greater the depth of flavour that develops. So in total I do this 3 times, each time mixing the dough with my hands for 2-3 minutes then leaving it to rest for 10, on the final round you'll notice how smooth an supple the dough feels and you can do what is known as the window pane test, to be sure your gluten has developed sufficiently. Stretch some dough between your hands and the dough should fan out whilst becoming super stretchy over your hand, you should just be able to see through it. This indicates that the glutens are fully developed and your dough is ready for the first prove, or what is known as bulk fermentation.
The first prove
Transfer your glossy dough into a clean bowl that has a light coat of flavourless oil over it for it's first prove. This will be your longest prove and is where the most amount of growth will occur. If you are making this recipe ahead of time you can actually pop the dough in the fridge now and leave it for a good 12 hours. the long, slow rise will bring out a beautiful depth of flavour to your dough. If you're not leaving over night simply wrap your bowl loosely in cling film and set aside in a warm draught free spot for a good hour to hour and a half or until you dough has doubled in size, the slower this first rise occurs the better the end result will be.
Knocking back, rolling and cutting
The following steps are seriously the most amount of work you will do to this dough before frying.Once your dough has beautifully doubled in size it is time to knock the air completely out of it. It seems like a shame when it looks so gorgeous and puffy but this is the step that will take up from big lump of dough to gorgeous rounds that will become feather light doughnuts. Once you've knocked the air completely out of your dough, pour it out onto a lightly oiled work surface and dust the top gently in flour. We're aiming to roll the dough to about 1.5 - 2cm in thickness. No need to turn your dough over, just roll it on one side and cut it into rounds using a round cutter. The exact size is completely up to you but I find 6-8cm will give you 12 or so generous doughnuts! Lay your doughnuts on a lightly floured board and cover loosely again with some cling film and allow to prove for another 30 minutes or so or until they've grown again by two thirds.
In the mean time prepare your pan for frying. If you have a deep fryer preheat your oil to 180 degrees C. If not, simply fill a wok or deep pan with about 2 liters of oil and bring to the same temperature. Once your doughnuts are ready for frying gently pop 3 - 4 in your pan at once and let them cook for two minutes on each side, it's that quick! They shouldn't need any longer unless your oil isn't hot enough. I always do a test one to make sure! Drain on some kitchen towel before rolling or dusting liberally in either castor or icing sugar. You'll need to let your doughnuts completely cool now before creating a small hole in the side and using a piping bag to fill them to bursting with whatever your chosen filling is. I made a creme diplomat, a rich pastry cream that is set with a small amount of gelatine, then whisked when cold with vanilla bean whipped cream, but I'll save that for another post. But you can use just about anything you like, jams and preserves are wonderful and I have my mind playing with a stewed rhubarb and apple filling for the coming cooler months! This recipe will give you between 12 - 15 deliciously light, fluffy and unctuously moreish doughnuts!
And there you have it. The only doughnut recipe you will ever need!! These are so good - seriosuly, the stuff that dreams are made of!