An accidental celebration of National Donut Day

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Thursday night I was sitting on the couch with a paintbrush in hand, watercolors splayed out in front of me, and a box of Kleenex propped up on the coffee table ready to be painted like one of my French girls, when I suddenly decided–as though compelled by some greater power–that I would much rather bake some donuts.  Unbeknownst to me, it was in fact the eve of National Donut Day, a holiday that I had neither participated in nor heard of before my roommate informed me of its existence later.  Coincidence?  Perhaps, but if you have any belief in fate or divine beings or what have you, you would know that only the cosmic reaches of the Donut Gods could bring about such a fortuitous occurrence.

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I stole the recipe from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook, which my ever generous roommate gave me for my birthday this year.  It’s the first recipe that I’ve actually attempted from that book–although most of the recipes are quite doable and not too hard to follow, the thought of disgracing Thomas Keller and his baking masters with a sad mutilation of one of their carefully thought out formulas was too much to stomach.

Donuts a la Bouchon Bakery (makes 8 and a ball)

518 grams AP flour
9 g salt
10 g active dry yeast (recipe asks for instant, but I didn’t have any)
212 g warm milk
74 g sugar
111 g eggs
9 g vanilla extract (recipe asks for paste, but again I didn’t have any)
50 g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces

Chocolate Glaze a la My Ass

I did not measure any of the ingredients I threw in there and have no idea how much of each I used.  You can take the risk and use your own judgment, or Google a legitimate chocolate glaze recipe.

some amount of chocolate chips
as much sugar as you feel like
a dash to a blob of water
enough nonfat dried milk to make you happy

1. Let the yeast proof in the warm milk for 5-10 minutes, or until frothy.  In the meantime, combine the flour and salt.

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2. Mix the yeasty milk with the flour, salt, and the rest of the wet ingredients except for the butter by hand until combined.  The recipe warned that the dough would be very sticky, but it wasn’t really that sticky for me.

3. Throw the dough into the stand mixer and knead on low with the dough hook for about 10 minutes, or until it starts to get smooth.

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4. Add the butter a little bit at a time, and knead until it’s well incorporated.  It may take a while–it took me about 10 minutes with me constantly stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides.

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5. Place in a bowl with plastic wrap over the top and let rise in a warm place for about an hour.

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6.  Time to shape the donuts.  Divide the dough into 8 sections.  Roll each section into a ball and flatten slightly with a rolling pin.  Using whatever cylindrical object you happen to find lying around, cut a 1-1.5 inch circle in the middle of each donut.  Set the holes aside or ball them up together for an extra spherical donut.

7.  I stuck them in the refrigerator overnight at this time, but you can also just let them rise for an hour and keep going.

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8.  To make the glaze, melt the chocolate with the rest of the ingredients on the stovetop at a very low heat.  Stir constantly and keep simmering until the glaze is thick enough to coat your spoon.  I didn’t really keep track of how long this took.  Set aside when done.

9.  If you refrigerated your donut dough, take it out the next morning and let it warm up/rise on the countertop for about an hour to an hour and a half.  The donuts should be almost double their previous size.

10.  Heat up the frying oil.  There should be enough in your pot for the donuts to float comfortably.  The book recommends a temperature of 350 degrees F, but I found this to be too hot.  My first couple of donuts were burnt on the outside and uncooked on the inside.  My ideal temperature turned out to be about 200-220 degrees F according to my kitchen thermometer.

11.  Fry the donut until the side facing the oil is golden brown, then flip over and fry the other side until it is golden brown.  This should be very fast, 30-45 seconds at the most per side.

12.  Remember to take pictures of the above steps if you plan to document your attempt, or you’ll just end up looking like an ass in front of the whole internet.

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Conclusions:

I’ll let you in on a secret–I actually baked half of my donuts.  And they were just not the same.  I highly recommend against attempting to healthify this recipe, because donuts serve a very specific purpose and it does not entail being anything other than awful for you.  The fried donuts were fairly pleasant and donut-like, which is as good as I could have expected.  Nothing mindblowing (and trust me, I have had some mindblowing donuts in my life) but it was a fun project and edible so I’m not complaining.

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