Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers October Challenge

I confess with not the slightest bit of shame that my toes curled with delight when I saw that the October Daring Bakers Challenge was doughnuts. Before C and I moved to California from the hinterlands of Western New York (Hey, Buffalo!), we dreamed of vegan doughnuts. We fantasized. I researched and whimsically plotted. I gazed longingly at doughnut pans in kitchen supply stores where I can reliably be found gazing longingly. I bookmarked vegan blogs that featured doughnuts. This continued even after we picked up our kitties and all our worldly possessions, made the four day trek across the frigid middle of the country, and found ourselves in a substantially warmer place where vegan doughnuts are no further away than the Whole Foods, or even better, any cafe/restaurant in San Francisco that carries the now famous Pepples. Don't get me wrong, the crumb doughnut at Whole Foods is well beyond passable, and the lovely folks at the Donut Farm in Oakland are doing more than their fair share to make the world a better place by making delicious morsels flavored with salted caramel, blueberries, chocolate, green tea, etc. Perhaps the long arc of history tends also toward vegan doughnuts.

In spite of all this, I always wanted to try my hand, and the DBers Challenge provided me with just the opportunity. Though the limitations of the challenge prescribed only that we make doughnuts--fried, baked, yeasted, cake, filled, whatever--I decided to make two kinds. I figured that while I'm filling a pan with hot oil, something I practically never do, I might as well get the most bang for my buck. Inspired by Pepples, I decided to make a cake doughnut with salted caramel frosting. I also wanted to try a yeasted doughnut, so I opted for a traditional jelly-filled, since that had been my favorite as a child. My results were a little bit mixed. The cake doughnut with the salted caramel glaze was truly out of this world. For the glaze, I tinkered around a bit with a few recipes to get an icing with a depth of luscious flavor that has my mouth watering just thinking about it. For the doughnut itself, I veganized the basic recipe provided in the challenge by simply swapping out the omni ingredients for vegan equivalences. The yeasted doughnut was not as successful. When I was mixing up the dough, I thought it felt kind of rough and dry, not at all what I was expecting from doughnut dough! I didn't realize until it was almost through with the first rise that I had forgotten to add an egg replacer. The resulting doughnuts were still tasty, but not as light and airy as I wanted them to be. They were much more like decadent little dinner rolls filled with jelly and rolled in raw sugar. They kind of grew on me, actually. 

These are definitely not the kind of thing you'd want to make on a daily basis, but for an occasional treat they were truly divine. In fact, I just might whip up a batch of cake doughnuts the next time I get invited to a brunch. Since that almost never happens, I should be safe for a while. If it does, I might try making them with whole wheat pastry flour since I really can't imagine it would have a huge impact on the texture or flavor and would make them much less egregious. I think the only other thing I should add about these is that I used sunflower oil for the frying. I'm not including the yeasted doughnut recipe because I'm not yet in a position to vouch for it. If you want it, message me and I'll send it along.

Cake Doughnuts

2 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg

1 c non-dairy milk
1 egg replacer (I used Ener-G)
1/4 c melted and cooled vegan margarine
2 t vanilla

Mix wet and dry together and then combine. Cover and refrigerate one hour. Flip dough out of bowl and knead lightly with a bit of flour, just to make it dry enough to work with. Roll out to about 1/2 to 3/4 inches think and cut into desired shape. They will rise when they cook! If you're like me and don't have a doughnut cutter, cut the doughnuts with whatever circular objects you have around that will produce a doughnut shape. I used a drinking glass and the cap from a bottle. Drop the doughnuts in the hot oil and fry on each side until golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Caramel Glaze

Melt 1/4 c margarine in a small saucepan. Add 1/2 c raw sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 c plain soy (or rice or coconut) creamer and return to a boil. Reduce to a low boil and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add 1 t sea salt. Allow to cool, then whip in 1/2 cup organic powdered sugar. When the doughnuts are cool, dip them in the cooled (not cold) glaze. I sprinkled them with a little bit of salt just to be extra crazy.


So Very Domestic said...

Wow. That is a serious doughnut! The salted caramel frosting has MY toes curling with delight. Great job!!

mrtreetop said...

Ugh. You had me at caramel...