Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 20, 2011

Baked Doughnuts

When I’ve got special guests staying at the B&B, or when I know our farm crew has a particularly tough day ahead, my thoughts turn to baked doughnuts. These tasty pastries are light, tender, flavorful and almost universally appealing. They’re also easy enough to make. And they make a goodly volume of doughnuts–since folks don’t seem to want to stop at just one, this is an important feature in the recipe.

You can have these baked doughnuts on the table in less than two and a half hours after starting them. They have enough fat in them that they taste fresh all day (like they’re going to last that long, but there you are–the perils of fine baking). The finishing dip in melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar for these doughnuts is a special kitchen activity for interested parties of all ages.

You may also make the doughnut dough the night before, cover it tightly, stick it in the fridge, and take it out in the morning about 1 1/2-2 hours before you want to form and bake the doughnuts. While the overnight fridge gambit doesn’t save ‘time’, it does save having to be so compos mentos that you’re making yeast dough first thing in the AM. And the doughnuts take on a richer flavor from the slowed, overnight rise as well.

The vegan version, and allergy alternatives, are incorporated into the recipe below.

Baked Doughnuts

2 packages yeast

1/3 cup warm water (stick one thumb in your mouth and the other in the warm water for 15 seconds, the water should be perceptibly warmer than your thumb in your mouth, but not uncomfortably so)

1 1/2 cups milk, or almond milk (or soy or rice or oat milk–but the first two give the best flavor)

1/3 cup shortening or lard (or butter or even margarine but you’ll have a nicer texture from the first two)

1/4 cup sugar, vanilla sugar or orange or lemon sugar are extra delightful

2 tsp salt

2 tsp nutmeg, or 1 tsp nutmeg and 1 tsp freshly decorticated and ground cardamom (hands down favorite of mine, but you might not like cardamom)

2 eggs, lightly beaten (or 3 TBSP ground flax seed meal in a mini-processor with 4 TBSP of water and processed until foamy and very goopy)

4 1/2 cups, 22.5 oz,  all purpose, unbleached flour

For the finish:

6 TBSP melted butter, or margarine

1 cup sugar mixed with

1 tsp cinnamon

Heat the milk and shortening in a small saucepan just until the shortening is melted. Sprinkle the yeast over the 1/3 cup warm water and allow to stand for five minutes. Add the sugar, salt and spices to the milk mixture. Beat the eggs until foamy (or the flax seed meal). Whisking briskly, add the eggs to the nearly lukewarm milk mixture. Stir in the yeast-and-water. Add half the flour and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the flour and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to double in volume, about one hour (or cover it tightly and let it rise in the fridge overnight, take it out, punch it down and let it rise again as it warms).

Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet, or two, with parchment paper. Grease your fingers and pull a smallish lump of dough from the mass. I like about an ounce and a half, but you could do smaller, or even larger. Tuck the dough under and under to activate the gluten and form your beignet, hole, or ‘fillable’ sized doughnut. Place it on the parchment and repeat until you’ve used up all the dough. These may be as close as 1/2″ from each other on the baking sheet as the doughnuts rise ‘up’ and not so much ‘out’.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops are nicely golden brown (like a heat-n-serve roll). Meanwhile, melt 6 TBSP butter or margarine. Mix together your cinnamon and sugar. Take the doughnuts from the oven when they’re done. Dip each doughnut top in the melted fat. Smear the fat over the doughnut’s sides and even the bottom. Roll the doughnut in the sugar mixture. Consume with alacrity.

This recipe makes about 30 beignet sized doughnuts, about 50 ‘hole’ sized doughnuts, and about 18 ‘filled’ sized doughnuts. I suppose you could, in fact, fill them; although they’re so good as is it hardly makes sense to me (ME) to gild that lily. But consult your conscience and do as you must.

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