When I saw that Peabody and Helen were hosting "Time to Make the Doughnuts," I was interested in participating, but several things were holding me back: (1) I had no idea what I would make, (2) I don't have a deep fryer, and hot oil on the stove could be dangerous, and (3) I had never made doughnuts before.
I love ginger. If you look at the various recipes I've blogged about, you can definitely tell. Whether it's fresh ginger chopped up and added to a stir fry or chicken satay, candied ginger in a delicious pear cake, or ground ginger in an apple cake, I always know that ginger will enhance the flavor of any recipe. So when I saw this particular recipe for Candied Ginger-Orange Cake Doughnuts, I knew it would be good. There goes excuse #1!
Then Peabody assured me that I could make doughnuts without the deep fryer, so that excuse went down the drain quickly. I was still a little worried some horrible accident/injury could occur with the hot oil, but knew that if I was extra careful, I wasn't likely to hurt myself.
So, after realizing that my first two reasons for not participating weren't really valid, I decided that excuse #3 was also a poor excuse and I needed to just challenge myself (and a challenge it was!).
The recipe was simple enough. I knew by choosing a spice cake doughnut instead of a raised doughnut, I would not have to worry about working with yeast. The doughnut batter came together quickly and easily. I knew I was in a little bit of trouble, however, when I went to knead the dough and found it was a big goopy mess. Although I had definitely floured my silpat really well beforehand, the dough was sticking to it like there was no tomorrow. I got most of it off of my silpat with my spatula and into some plastic wrap to refrigerate it. I thought to myself that perhaps all this needed was some time to chill in the fridge and then all would be well.
Unfortunately, this was not the case. Knowing that I wanted it to be well chilled, I even let the dough sit in my refrigerator for about 6 hours. When I turned it out onto my silpat, I was able to easily roll the dough out without having it stick to my rolling pin too badly. Maybe I was still able to salvage this, I thought to myself. Alas, when I went to remove the dough in order to drop it in the oil, it began to stick to the silpat again. It was sticking to everything - my silpat, my spatula, my fingers! I was so frustrated with it! So, instead of beautiful looking doughnuts, I ended up with what looked more like fried dough balls. I'm not sure what I did wrong; perhaps I needed to add more flour?
One thing to note - it's important that you watch the temperature of your oil. Too low and your doughnuts will end up soaking up excess oil and become soggy. Too high and your doughnuts will brown too quickly on the outside and the batter will remain uncooked in the center (or they'll be burned on the outside by the time the doughnut is cooked throughout).
These were really tasty (though I have to admit that pretty much anything fried is good). Although I quite enjoyed these, I try not to eat too many fried foods so I probably won't be attempting this again. It was an interesting experience. While it was not a complete success, I'm glad I challenged myself. The good thing about most kitchen experiments is that while they don't always turn out so pretty, they usually end up tasting pretty darn good ;) I can't wait to see the round up on February 15th.
Candied Ginger-Orange Cake Doughnuts
from Caprial's Desserts
3-1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp + 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sguar
finely grated zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp finely minced candied ginger
1 tsp salt
vegetable oil, for deep frying
2 cups granulated sugar or powdered sugar, for dredging
To prepare the dough, sift together the flour, baking powder; set aside. Add the vanilla extract to the milk; set aside.
Place the butter and the 1 cup granulated sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Add the orange zest and candied ginger and mix until incorporated. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk, then mix on low speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining flour mixture followed by the milk and the salt, and mix well. Transfer the dough to a well-floured board and knead until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Roll the chilled dough out onto a well-floured board to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Cut with a doughnut cutter or a round cookie cutter (if you use a cookie cutter, use a smaller cutter to cut the centers out). Save the donut holes, or add them back to the scrap dough before you reroll it.
To fry the doughnuts, heat about 4 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. (You can check the temperature with a candy thermometer or place a piece of bread in the oil; if it turns brown in about 40 seconds, the oil should be at about 350.) Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with paper towels, and have it ready by the fryer. When the oil is hot, add as many doughnuts as will fit without overcrowding, and cook on one side until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the doughnuts over and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to the paper towels to drain, and let cool for about 5 minutes. Continue cooking the remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. The holes will cook a bit faster, so cook them separately. When the doughnuts have cooled (they should still be warm but not hot), dredge them in powdered or granulated sugar. Serve immediately; they are best eaten warm!
Yield: 24 doughnuts