When it comes to doughnuts, there is a dizzying array of choices, but for me it really comes down to one – a sugar doughnut. I much prefer the light and airy yeast-based doughnuts to the denser and chewier cake doughnuts. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a maple bar or chocolate doughnut every once in a while, but I really favor the slight crunch of all the sugar that coats the exterior of the fluffy, melt-in-my-mouth goodness of the simple sugar doughnut. The inspiration for these doughnuts came from a restaurant in Seattle called Lola. One of the items on the breakfast menu is Made to Order Doughnuts with Seasonal Jam and Vanilla Mascarpone. The hot mini doughnuts come to the table in a white paper bag and the wait staff vigorously shakes the bag to ensure that copious amounts of sugar adhere to the fried dough. Totally Awesome!
I had grand plans to go to the store to pick up some stuff to make something to go with the doughnuts, but it was raining. (For all of you non-Southern Californians, let me explain. Rain absolutely stops us dead in our tracks. One drop from the sky and we hunker down and stay indoors for the duration of the “storm.” P.S. We also can’t drive in the rain. It is our excuse to stay in our pajamas all day and drink coffee and eat doughnuts.) I rummaged throughthe fridge for something that would work as an accompaniment and I came up with some leftovers – lemon curd, blackberry sauce, fresh blackberries and about 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese. Mixed together, it is similar in color to Pepto Bismol, but fortunately, does not taste like it. It actually made a lovely little sauce, perfectly tart against the sweetness of the doughnuts.
Mini Sugar Doughnuts
Yields approximately 3 dozen mini doughnuts using a 1-inch round cutter
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons warm water (105–115°F)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus a little more for sprinkling and rolling out dough
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Granulated sugar, to roll cooked doughnuts
Stir together the yeast and warm water in a small bowl until yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together flour, milk, butter, yolks, sugar, salt, and yeast mixture at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more.
Scrape the dough down side of bowl into center, then sprinkle lightly with flour to keep a crust from forming. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (Alternatively, let dough rise in bowl in refrigerator 8 to 12 hours.)
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round (1/2 inch thick). Cut out as many rounds as possible with 1-inch round cutter and transfer doughnuts to a lightly floured large baking sheet. Cover doughnuts with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes (45 minutes if dough was cold when cutting out doughnuts). Do not reroll scraps. (I really didn’t have much scraps since I cut the rounds as close together as possible.)
Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil in a deep 4-quart heavy pot until it registers 350°F on a deep fat thermometer. Fry doughnuts, 4-5 at a time, turning occasionally with a wire or mesh skimmer or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper bag or container with sugar and toss or roll the doughnuts to cover.
Return oil to 350°F between batches. (Perhaps since I was frying mini doughnuts, I found that 350°F was too hot and browned the doughnuts too fast, so I cooled the oil to about 300°F and it worked better for me. Test the oil with one and adjust the temperature accordingly.)
Adapted from Epicurious.com
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