A very convincing doughnut is totally possible without any deep-frying.
The secret is to make a very soft, buttery dough that is shaped while very cold.
If cinnamon doughnuts are your favourite, add ½ teaspoon to the sugar. If you like them with jam, just dunk them in.
The dough can also be glazed with beaten egg to make light brioche-style rolls.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
For the dough: 111 g butter | 180 ml milk | 2 eggs | 250 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting | 1 ½ tsp fast-action yeast | 50 g caster sugar | ¼ tsp salt | oil for greasing For 10 sugared doughnuts: 110 g butter | 150 g caster sugar For 10 glazed doughnuts: 200 g icing sugar | 5 tbsp milk | 1 tsp vanilla extract For 10 thickly iced doughnuts: 200 g icing sugar | 4 tbsp milk | s few drops of food colouring | 2 tbsp sprinkles
WHAT TO DO
- Put the milk and butter in a small pan, then heat gently until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, separate the eggs. Put the flour in a large bowl and add the yeast, sugar and salt
- Mix the buttery milk and the yolks into the dry ingredients to make a very wet dough, almost a batter.
- Now comes the fun part: hold the bowl steady with one hand, then with the other, pull up as much dough as you can, then let it go so that it slaps back into the bowl. Do this for about 5 minutes and the dough will turn from very liquid to something with more body, and become stretchy and smoother. It will be much looser than ordinary bread dough, which is why this stage is all done within the safe confines of the bowl. You can do this step with a dough hook in a stand mixer, if you have one.
- Oil a second bowl or a large food storage bag. Scoop the dough into it and cover with oiled cling film or seal the bag, then chill for at least 4 hours or until firm (overnight is ideal). It won’t double in size like bread usually does.
- Have 2 large baking trays ready, lined with baking parchment. Flour the work surface, then turn the dough out of the bowl. Dust it with flour, cut it in half and put one half in the fridge to keep cold. Shape the doughnuts in one of 3 ways, then repeat with the rest of the dough.
- For classic ring doughnuts, roll the dough out to about 1cm thick. Stamp the dough into circles with a 9 or 10 cm cutter, then remove the middle sections with a smaller cutter. Place the trimmings on top of each other, then roll out again until 1 cm thick and repeat. Try not to knead the dough, as it will become springy or too warm.
- For twists, roll the dough to a 25 x 15 cm rectangle, then cut into strips about 2.5 cm across. Pinch the ends of the 2 pieces together, tuck the ends under to give a neat shape and pinch underneath to secure.
- For twisted rings, proceed as for 2, but pinch the dough together in a ring shape once it has been twisted.
- Lift the shapes onto a lined tray, giving the dough plenty of room to rise. Cover loosely with a tea towel or oiled cling film, then leave in a warm place to prove for 30 mins – 1 hour. When you see the dough is growing nicely, preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan/gas 5).
- When ready to bake, the dough will have grown by about 75%. If you push the side of one doughnut and your finger leaves an indent, it’s ready. It not, leave them a little longer. At this point, the dough will be very delicate and difficult to move, so if they are rising unevenly, turn the tray around instead of trying to move them individually.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until dark, golden and puffed up. Meanwhile prepare your glaze, icing or sugaring ingredients. To prepare for sugared doughnuts, melt the butter in a pan and have half the caster sugar spread out in a wide bowl. For glazed doughnuts, sift the icing sugar into a bowl, then gradually mix in the milk and vanilla until smooth and fairly runny. For iced doughnuts repeat as above, adding a little food colouring to make a thick paste.
- For sugared doughnuts, turn the warm doughnuts around in the melted butter, let the excess drip away, then turn in the sugar and leave to cool. When you’ve sugared half the doughnuts, discard the sugar, which will be a bit buttery by now, and repeat. For glazed doughnuts, toss one doughnut at a time into the glaze, lift out with the help of two forks, let the excess drip away and leave to dry on a rack. For iced doughnuts, set them on a rack, spoon the icing over them, and decorate with the sprinkles.
Eat the doughnuts on the day they are made. The dough can easily be made a couple of days ahead, or frozen flat on trays once shaped, then packed into freezer containers and frozen for up to two weeks. Spread them out on trays to thaw, then prove and bake.
Recipe Jane Hornby What to Bake & How to Bake it