I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but the occasional doughnut is certainly difficult to pass up, especially if its a baked version of the otherwise deep-fried sweet treat (I wish I was more of a healthy eater, but we all fool ourselves from time to time). What I do avidly indulge in, however, is religiously watch cooking shows on Youtube, and I came across this recipe by Gemma Stafford and it seemed too awesome to not try out for myself, with of course, a few twists here and there. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but the occasional doughnut is certainly difficult to pass up, especially if its a baked version of the otherwise deep-fried sweet treat (I wish I was more of a healthy eater, but we all fool ourselves from time to time). What I do avidly indulge in, however, is religiously watch cooking shows on Youtube, and I came across this recipe by Gemma Stafford and it seemed too awesome to not try out for myself, with of course, a few twists here and there.
Like any home cook, I love it when I have friends and family fawning over my food, which makes this particular recipe practically perfect – you can churn out a bunch of doughnuts with next to no effort and without burning a hole in your pocket. Even the ingredient gathering phase is simple because it only requires a handful of components, most of which are staples, and will therefore exist in any basic pantry.
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
2tsp dried yeast (active or fast action)
1 tsp salt
¾ cup milk, warmed
170g butter, melted
4 eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar/honey (I used maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Now the only thing to keep in mind when making any dough that requires little to no kneading, is that, what is taken away by avoiding manual or mechanical labour (in 'working' the dough), must be given back in time. Yeast breads that require kneading for a good 10 to 15 minutes to get the gluten in the dough develop and create air pockets, making the bread light and airy. However, the way to achieve this same result without kneading can be done by giving the dough a hefty amount of time to rise, which is exactly what this recipe calls for.
As with any baking recipe, the first step to making a batter or dough, is to prepare the wet and dry ingredients separately. So I started off by whisking together the milk, eggs, melted butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a jug.
In a large bowl, I measured out the flour, dry yeast and salt, making sure to keep the yeast and salt separate, in opposite sides of the bowl, so they don't initially come in contact with each other. Since yeast is a live ingredient, it will release some of its water through osmosis when in contact with salt, which will invariably affect the fermentation and rising process.
I then poured in the liquid ingredients into the bowl, and, using a spatula, began combining it all.
The end result is a fairly soft and wet dough, which needs to be roughly shaped into a ball. I then covered the bowl tightly with cling-film, put a tea towel on top and placed in a warm corner of the room, to allow to rest and rise for two to three hours. Once the dough is risen, it becomes almost twice its original size, with visible air bubbles.
This must then be put in the refrigerator overnight, for at least twelve hours. The dough can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.
I kept mine in the fridge for almost sixteen hours before use. I started by carefully (it is sticky, so be sure to flour your hands) taking the dough out of the bowl and placing it on to a well-floured work surface. I then rolled out the dough (make sure to flour the rolling pin as well to avoid sticking) to roughly the thickness of my finger. To cut out the doughnuts, I used the rim of a glass and a bottle cap.
The cut out doughnuts need to be placed in a baking tray, lined with baking paper, with enough space between them to allow the second and final rise. This time, I simply covered the tray with a tea towel and left in a warm corner for 20-30 minutes.
While the doughnuts were proofing, I moved on to making the glazes. For the vanilla glaze, simply combine 1 cup icing or powdered sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of milk (depending on how thick you want it) and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, and mix well to make a smooth paste. For the chocolate glaze, add 3-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the above ingredients. Make sure to keep the chocolate glaze a little thicker in consistency.
After the doughnuts have done their final proofing and have plumped up, brush the tops with milk, and bake them in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them to avoid them turning brown or the bottoms turning too crispy.
Once cooked, carefully take out from the oven and dip in the glazes while still warm. I dipped them twice, with five minute cooling intervals, to make sure the glazing was thick enough and evenly coated. I also used sugar sprinkles on the chocolate doughnuts for some extra colour and crunch.