Doughnuts have never really been my thing. Sure, I got really excited about them as a kid, but what kid doesn’t? I still remember my favorites – the blueberry ones from the shop in my hometown or the chocolate-glazed ones, preferably topped with chopped nuts or rainbow sprinkles, from the gas station on the way out to our farm. Those are the flavors that I still gravitate towards on the rare occasion that I’m standing in front of racks of doughnuts, but with a lack of decent doughnut shops around town, that’s not a frequent occurrence. Aside from a memorable doughnut hole dessert that my mom and I had at Topolobampo probably 15 years ago or a trip to Voodoo Doughnut while visiting my brother a few years ago, doughnuts just haven’t really been on my radar.
The same does not hold true for Matt, though, and after putting him through two and a half years of cooking and baking all kinds of things, I’ve finally given him what he’s wanted all along: homemade doughnuts. While I certainly hope that he’ll stick around for another two and a half years and beyond regardless of what I’m cooking, I have to think that welcoming him home from a not-so-great basketball game with a tray of warm, homemade doughnuts can only work in my favor.
Prior to last Sunday, I’d only made doughnuts once before. It was in 6th grade home ec class, and if my memory serves me correctly, they were made out of a tube of refrigerated biscuit dough. While you probably can’t go wrong with frying any kind of dough and tossing it in sugar, you can go really, really right when that dough is brioche. These doughnuts blew my mind. They were light and full of air pockets, the dough was neither too sweet nor lacking flavor and they weren’t greasy. If they hadn’t been so rich, I would have eaten half a dozen. Doughnuts are awesome!
How to make brioche doughnuts (based on this recipe):
- Make brioche dough. I imagine that any recipe would do, but I used middle-class brioche from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. The link above has a simple recipe that looks great as well.
- After the rising time, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s about 1/2-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or any round object to cut out doughnuts, and then use something smaller to cut a hole in the center. I used an apple corer, punching each doughnut a few times to get a decent sized opening.
- Loosely cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise for about 30 minutes. This is a great point to start getting toppings ready – pour granulated sugar into a shallow bowl and make ganache if you’re feeling it.
- Heat a couple inches of oil in a deep pot to 350-degrees.
- Fry a few doughnuts at a time for about a minute per side, until nicely browned. Briefly drain on paper towels before dipping in granulated sugar.
- Serve immediately.
See those bits of butter poking out of some of the rings? That’s flavor. And maybe not a sign of perfect brioche-making technique, but that’s fine. The only thing wrong with this picture is the one massive doughnut that needed a little extra frying time, which I didn’t realize until it was too late. No big deal. We still had plenty to go around.
- I was worried about the sharp edges on the doughnuts after cutting them, but the rising time and the frying rounded them out.
- I rolled and re-rolled the dough a few times, and I also smooshed together scraps of dough to make the doughnut “holes.” I was a little worried about overworking the dough, but it turned out fine.
- A powdered sugar glaze is probably a better idea than setting a hot doughnut in a bowl of powdered sugar, which tends to clump and melt. Tossing the doughnuts in a bag of powdered sugar might work, though.
- Chocolate ganache is a great dipping/drizzling sauce in theory, but in practice I thought it was way to sweet and rich (even using a pretty dark chocolate). Matt enjoyed the ganache, though, and I’m sure my mom would, too.
- A tart jam or spread (I tried blood orange marmalade) is a nice counterbalance to a sugary doughnut.
- Leftover ganache? Make truffles!
As much as loved these, frying brioche in hot oil isn’t something I plan on doing regularly. Instead, I’ll save it for special occasions and head to the farmers’ market when I need a fix. I’d also like to try some other doughnut varieties, like the buttermilk doughnuts from Baked Explorations or these with lemon and yogurt.
Doughnuts, you win.