Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vanilla Creme Filled Doughnuts

I could definitely use some routine and regularity in my life. I am not one of those people who need to loosen up...
I am the person who is puzzled when her friends apologize for their messy house- they always look perfectly clean to me.
I am the person who will survive the blizzard stuck in her car on the side of the road, layering on the random bits of clothing in the back seat, eating granola bars and other bits of food that fell in the crack by the console and drinking from the countless water bottles littering the floor.
I am the person who doesn't know how to iron clothes properly, but it doesn't really matter, because I don't own any clothes that might require ironing.
Poor Eric didn't get much of a housewife out of this marriage deal.

In view of all this and certain New Years Resolutions involving productivity and organization, I, Mikaela of The Fox Fix, do impose a blogging schedule on herself for the year 2011. Hereafter, I promise you that you will find a post here every Tuesday and Friday, with the possibility of extra posts on special non-scheduled post days. If I fail, you can yell at me in the comments section. I hope this will encourage you to put your faith in The Fox Fix. Every Tuesday and Friday.

Phew, here it goes: the first Tuesday of the new regime.

Eric's brother Micah gave me a fantastic new baking book for Christmas. Flour, by Joanne Chang (who owns a bakery in Boston also called Flour), is a recipe-liscious, information-packed, picture-licking gem of a find. Not only are the American-classics-but-better recipes superb, but the book is full of tips and tricks and technical help. Its explains why over-beating egg whites is a problem. (desserts won't rise in the oven because the eggs' cell walls are already stretched to their limit) It finally made me care if my ingredients were all the correct temperature (for example, if the butter used for creaming is too warm, the sugar won't create the little holes in it that are necessary for a light cake. If the liquid is much colder than the creamed ingredients, it will create tunnels and holes and tough spots in the finished product.)

But mostly...Flour contains a recipe for Vanilla Creme Filled Doughnuts that made me melt into a puddle of delirious happiness on the floor. Whipped cream lightened pastry cream? Yes please. Preferably quickly and in large quantities.

It's a many-stepped recipe, so make sure to read the whole thing before you start, but if you've got a lazy weekend ahead and have a hoard of sweet tooths (teeth?) to satisfy, then step right up to the mixing bowl!

For the yeasted doughnut dough:
2 1/2 (1 package) instant yeast
2/3 cup (160 g) milk, room temp
3 1/2 cups (490 g) AP flour
1/3 cups (70 g) sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
7 tbs butter, room temp, cut in 7 pieces.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a hand held mixer, combine the milk and yeast. Add the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, salt, and eggs, then mix on low speed using the dough hook until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. Continue mixing for 2 or 3 minutes. When the dough has developed a bit, add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and mix for 5 or 6 more minutes until the butter is fully mixed in and the dough is soft and elastic.

Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 6-15 hours.

Sometime during those 6-15 hours, make your vanilla pastry cream (adapted from Flour).

1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (my addition)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2-3/4 cup heavy cream (original recipe called for 6 tablespoons, but I prefer more)

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat until very hot but not boiling. Look for bubbles forming around the edge, stir, and wait for them to reform. While the milk is heating (watch it, milk boils over very easily), whisk together the sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until combined and then slowly whisk in the flour-sugar mixture to form a thick paste.

When the milk is heated, whisk it into the yolks, a very small amount at a time. You want to heat the yolks, but not too quickly or they may curdle. When everything is combine, pour it back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk constantly for a few minutes until the pastry cream is boiling constantly and thick. Whisk like crazy for 30 seconds or so once its boiling to smooth it out and cook the flour.

Push the pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl set over a larger bowl filled with ice. Stir in the vanilla and butter until melted and combined. Stir every so often until cool. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until fully chilled and set, 1-2 hours and up to 3 days.

Before using the pastry cream to fill your doughnuts, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Stir the pastry cream to loosen it, then fold the whipped cream in the pastry cream, 1/3 at a time. YUM. Whipped Cream-lightened pastry cream is SO. FREAKING. TASTY.

Next step for the dough:

On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-in square and 1/2 in thickness. Using a biscuit cutter or a glass or other container, cut out circles about 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter. You'll get about 9 doughnuts, rerolling and cutting the scraps. (My photo shows more because I made the recipe times 1/3...because im complicated like that.) Arrange the circles on the greased and floured baking sheet, cover with plastic, and allow to rise for 2-3 hours until they are almost double and feel puffy.

Set up your frying station. You'll need canola or vegetable oil for frying- buy one of the second to largest bottles at the store, I think mine was 64 oz. You'll also need a small bowl of about 1 cup of sugar for rolling the doughnuts. Place a thick layer of paper towels on a baking sheet on which to place the fried doughnuts.

Choose a large, heavy bottomed pan with sides of about 3 or 4 inches. Pour the oil in the pan to make a depth of 2 or 3 inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees on a instant read thermometer. An easy way to tell if its hot enough is to throw a pinch of flour into the oil- if it sizzles, it's ready. If you try to fry your doughnuts in too-cool oil, they will just soak up the oil instead of frying, which is disgusting.

When the oil is heated, carefully place a few doughnuts in the pan. Don't over crowd the pan. Fry the first side 2-3 minutes until brown, then flip them, and fry again for 2-3 minutes until brown. Take the doughnuts out of the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon and place on the paper towel-covered pan to cool. Repeat until all doughnuts are fried.

When doughnuts are cool enough to handle, roll in the sugar to coat them.

Let the doughnuts cool completely before filling with pastry cream. To do so, either cut them in half and spoon on the cream, making a doughnut sandwich, or fill a pastry bag with the pastry cream and pipe it in. You can kind of dig out a space for the cream with a knife if all you have is a garbage bag with which to do the piping, as I did.

Next time, I'm going to dip the tops of my doughnuts in chocolate.

These doughnuts made me instant friends... and I think it will work for you too.

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