Drowned DoughnutsPosted: January 14, 2015
Welcome to the first post of 2015. Yes, I know I’m a bit slow out of the gate and that January is almost half over, but I’ve got several plates spinning just now *she says, enigmatically* so it’s all going to be a bit ad lib for the next few months, I’m afraid. Bear with.
As a reward for your patience, I have a delicious treat for you to try this week – drowned doughnuts!
Not drowned in gooey stuff, for as you can see from the picture, the most they can boast is a light dusting of caster sugar. The ‘drowned’ relates to the method of making the dough – unusual and bizarre and so ‘out there’ it’s practically left the solar system. But it works. And it’s delicious. And so incredibly light and delicate you won’t believe.
“I can’t believe it!” you’ll cry, as you jam yet another vanilla-scented pillow into your mouth (little finger crooked, of course – we’re not ANIMALS here).
For once this dough is mixed, you cover it lightly with a cloth – or plastic, your choice – and drop it into a bucket of cold water.
Yes. Drop it into water. For real.
It’ll sit at the bottom until the yeast has worked its magic sufficiently, whereupon it will rise like a……*stares blankly into the middle distance for a while* ………. well, a very risey thing, and float on the surface. That’s when you know it’s ready.
None of this tip-toeing around, nervously chewing your lip and wondering
“Is it done yet?”
“Why isn’t it done yet?”
“Is it in a draft?”
“Shall I poke it now? “
“Maybe it’s too hot!”
“Did I kill the yeast?”
“I think I killed the yeast!”
“What about poking it now?”
“Did I poke it too much?”
“Why isn’t it done yet??”
No, none of that palaver here – just weigh, mix, wrap and *splash!*
There’s lots you can do with this dough – and we’ll be coming back to it in a few weeks (although do remind me, because you know what I’m like for getting distracted!), but as an introduction I’d like you to enjoy it elegant simplicity.
If you need any further convincing of the high esteem in which I hold this recipe, let me just say I thought it worthy of using a vanilla pod. In a dough! *lets that sink in*
1 sachet easy-blend fast action yeast
200 g unsalted butter
400 g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 heaped tbs caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
200 ml milk
1 large egg
Milk for brushing
- Put the yeast, butter, flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Tip the mixture into a bowl.
- Put the sugar into a mortar or small bowl.
- Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds to the sugar.
- Using the pestle, or the back of a spoon, stir/grind the sugar and seeds together. This will break apart the sticky mass of vanilla seeds and help distribute them evenly throughout the dough.
- Tip the now vanilla sugar into the flour mix.
- Gently warm the milk to blood temperature, then whisk in the egg.
- Gradually add the liquid to the rest of the ingredients, stirring thoroughly. It will make a soft dough. It won’t matter if you just tip all the liquid in at once and it becomes too soft to mould – just use a ziplock bag for the next stage. Form the dough into a smooth ball.
- Wet a clean tea-towel, squeeze out the excess moisture and lay it on your worktop. Place your ball of dough into the middle. Loosely tie opposite corners of the cloth over the dough, leaving room for it to swell. If your dough is very soft, spoon it into a lightly oiled ziplock bag, squeeze out all the air and seal it shut.
- Place (yes, I know I said ‘drop’ earlier – but I was being melodramatic! I also said bucket, but unless you’ve got clean, food-grade plastic ones, use an alternative.) the dough into a deep bowl or pan of cold water. It will sink to the bottom. Make sure there enough liquid to cover it. You can now safely leave it until it floats to the surface (about an hour).
- Remove the dough from the water and unwrap. You might want to let it drain a little before placing it onto your floured worktop. You can use paper towels to mop up any excess water.
- Gently pat the air out of the dough with the palm of your hand until the dough is 3cm thick.
- Cover lightly with oiled plastic and let it rest for 15 minutes,
- Using a 5cm plain cutter, cut out your doughnuts and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Press the cutter straight down and up again – no twisting, or your doughnuts will rise lop-sided.
- Press any scraps of dough together and pat out again to re-use.
- Cover the doughnuts lightly with cling film and set aside to rise for about 20 minutes while the oven heats up.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160ºC Fan.
- Once the doughnuts have puffed up, bake for 8-10 minutes until well risen and starting to brown on the tops.
- Remove from the oven and quickly brush with milk to keep the crust soft.
- Cover with a cloth and allow to cool till just warm.
- Dust with caster sugar and enjoy.