I used to live in fear of yeast but now I'm finally overcoming my terror. Until recently I'd never, ever had a success when making yeasted dough. Everything I made would end up rock solid and awful. Absolutely awful. So I gave up and decided that yeast and I would never be friends.
Well, things change. I'm gradually building my confidence. I started simple with pizza dough and then... more pizza dough (hey, different recipe - totally counts as something new) and now, doughnuts. Delicious, delicious doughnuts.
Home-made doughnuts really are one of life's pleasures. There is absolutely nothing good about them, they're unashamedly bad for you. They're also amazing and fluffy. Nothing like those hard, slightly stale doughnuts from the shops.
These doughnuts contain orange zest which adds a degree of complexity (ugh!) to the taste. I hadn't expected them to taste as orangey as they do so I was surprised when the flavour came through so strongly. It's good though, orange flavoured doughnuts aren't something you can buy at the shops.
These doughnuts are supposed to be filled with chocolate ricotta but they're not. I have all the ingredients in the kitchen but after biting into one I couldn't bring myself to fill them. They're rich enough as it is. I think if I ever make them again, I'll make them smaller and then fill them. As it stands they're so large (read: normal doughnut sized) that I can't imagine making them any richer.
Orange zest & cinnamon doughnuts
(adapted from Gourmet Traveller, March 2005)
150ml lukewarm (38-45°C) milk
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
410g (2 3/4 cups) plain flour
80g (2.8 oz) butter
Canola oil, for frying
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar, extra
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Place milk, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and stir until dissolved, then stir in the eggs and orange rind. Sift flour and pinch of salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, then, on low speed, slowly pour in egg mixture and knead for 8 minutes. Increase the speed to medium, and add the butter, in 3 batches, and beat until the dough is smooth and shiny.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and stand in a draught-free place for 1 hour until the mixture doubles in size.
Knock down the dough, then divide into 16 pieces and roll into smooth balls. Place the balls 5 cm apart on lightly greased trays, press slightly to flatten, the cover and stand in a draught-free place for 1 hour or until risen.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer or a large saucepan to 160°C (320°F) and fry doughnuts, in batches, for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking, then drain on absorbent paper. Combine extra caster sugar and cinnamon and roll doughnuts in the sugar to coat evenly.
Doughnuts are best made on the day of serving.