8th June 2012
What a horrible half-term week this is turning out to be weather wise. The children, as normal are late getting up and I don’t blame them with the weather we’ve been having – I could quite easily lay in bed too.
I thought it would be nice to make some doughnuts for us all. I must admit we normally get our doughnuts from the Farmers Market (which is held in our town on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month) – Pippins Doughnuts sell the most delicious doughnuts I have ever tasted and all their fillings are homemade, so I was hoping mine would be similar – some chance!!
Mary says first to grease three baking trays. I didn’t see the point in doing this at the moment as I knew the dough would have to prove for a while, so I went straight on to point 2.
My big mixing bowl was taken down from the top of the cooker hood – it’s amazing what you can store on top of them – I’m sure one day it will fall down from all the things I put on it. Into the bowl went the flour (I’ve just realised typing this up that I actually used strong bread flour and Mary says to use plain flour – I wonder what they would have turned out like if I’d used the correct flour – as it was technically bread I automatically assumed it would be strong bread flour!), together with the sachet of fast action yeast. This was stirred together. Next I added a small amount of butter and this was rubbed in. Mary does say until it resembles breadcrumbs, but I don’t think that would have been possible with the small amount added. Next the sugar was stirred in.
A well was then made and into this went two beaten eggs, 6tbsp tepid milk and 6tbsp of water. It was then a case of getting stuck in the Paul Hollywood way – straight in with the hand to mix it all together to make a smooth dough.
Once it had been made into a dough I quickly grabbed one of my big chopping boards and sprinkled it with flour and turned the dough out. It started off quite sticky, but soon came together and within 5 minutes was nice and smooth and elastic. The dough was put back into the bowl and covered with some oiled clingfilm. This was then put to one side to prove – Mary suggests 1 -1 1/2 hours, but I think I finally got round to it after 3 hours! It had certainly doubled in size if not trebled.
It was at this stage I lightly greased a couple of baking trays. Two would be enough, they were big trays!
The dough was turned out of the bowl and kneaded until the air had been knocked out of it. It was then to be divided into 16 equal pieces, so it was a case of halving it, then halving the halves, halving the quarters etc. Eventually I ended up with 16 pieces. Each piece was shaped into a ball.
It was then time to decide on the fillings. Mary suggests raspberry jam, the traditional filling for doughnuts, but having experienced Pippins Doughnuts, I wanted more than just raspberry. In the end we decided on raspberry, strawberry, plum (homemade) and Nutella. Each ball had to be flattened slightly and a small teaspoon of jam placed in the middle. It was indeed a small teaspoon of jam, more like half a teaspoon. The first one didn’t go very well, I put far too much jam in and didn’t flatten the dough out enough, so it was impossible to pull the sides up over the jam and pinch them together. However, after the first few I soon got the hang of it. Four raspberry doughnuts were made and placed on a baking tray and these were soon joined by four strawberry ones. It was then onto the plum jam. I must admit my plum jam is slightly runny – it’s OK if you use it straight out of the fridge, but by now the jar had been standing on the worktop for a good 10 minutes and had started to warm up, so it was a case of trying to scoop out a plum and a little bit of the ‘jam’. These were turning into very squidgy doughnuts. All four were soon made and these were placed on the next baking tray, these were then joined by the four Nutella doughnuts – the easiest of all to make – the Nutella didn’t try to escape the way the jam did!
The doughnuts were covered and put to one side for half an hour. By this time they had doubled in size again.
Now it was onto the cooking of them, the bit I had been dreading all day. I must admit I was surprised to find these under the ‘Children’s Section’ of the book, as it’s certainly not something I would would expect small children to do on their own or even with help! I’m not a fan of deep fat frying – any frying at all actually – I always seem to get attacked by those little ‘splats’ of oil and find myself jumping around the kitchen. Anyway some of you may have seen my comment on Facebook, I had a dilemma – in the book it states 2cm or 5″ of oil. Now I know these two measurements are not the same – in the end I went with 2″ of oil – 5″ of oil sounded an horrendous amount. The oil was heated up and to test it was hot enough Mary suggests dropping a cube of bread into the oil – if it’s hot enough the bread will brown in 30 seconds. On the third attempt the bread did brown in just over 30 seconds – it was ready.
The pan was quite big, so I decided I would put all the strawberry doughnuts in first – when I went to remove them from the tray I realised that they seemed a bit ‘soggy’ underneath. I had put all the doughnuts ‘pinched’ side down on the baking tray as they looked smarter that way, but I think it would have been better if I’d put them the other way up – the jam had started to seep through – probably the warmth of the kitchen as the oven was on for a cake I was baking.
Anyway there was nothing I could do, so the doughnust were gently lowered into the pan of oil. I had read from the recipe that the doughnuts should be turned once until golden brown all over. This will take about 5 minutes. However, after about 25 seconds my doughnut was already golden brown if not dark brown – I quickly turned them over and then within 10 seconds I took them out – these were well and truly overdone. They were drained on some kitchen roll and I then put them individually into a bag of caster sugar and gave them a good shake. Mary’s recipe says to put them in sugar and cinnamon, but although I like cinnamon, I did not want it to overpower the doughnut, so I left it out. The doughnuts had been dusted and I put them onto a plate – you could see through the sugar they were too dark – but surely they couldn’t cook in that short length of time could they?
I read through the recipe again and I think Mary means that the whole batch of 16 doughnuts should take you about 5 minutes to cook – not each individual batch. Next to go in were the raspberry doughnuts – I kept a careful eye on them, but these too I felt were slightly overcooked. Again they were drained and then put in the bag of sugar.
I turned the heat down slightly on the hob and let the oil cool a bit before I put the plum doughnuts in. These puffed up really well and took on a lovely golden colour – about 20 seconds for each half of a doughnut. After draining and shaking them in the sugar these were placed on the plate and I must admit they looked good. Last of all to cook were the Nutella doughnuts and by now I had well and truly got the hang of it – these too looked good.
Overall I was cross with myself for cooking the first batch of doughnuts too long, but having never attempted anything like this before I was pleased I didn’t ruin all of them. And in all honesty they are still edible – well we’ve all been eating them – so nothing has been wasted.
Here they are, together with a Nutella doughnut cut in half.