01 April 2010

Big Sur Bakery's Doughnuts

Big Sur Bakery Doughnuts (with title)
When I was in college, I recall that a friend had told me once that I was just like Ally McBeal (apparently this was before the show went into the dumpster): I liked being sad. I also recall being a little offended by it and I would have been more indignant had I not been so shocked. No one wants to be sad, though you'd think so, given the way I behaved as a silly little teen (er, I was 16 when I entered college), which in my defense isn't so different from how most other silly little teens behave when they're all angsty and emotion-y. I mean, it's no accident that I've loved the song Rainy Days and Mondays since I first heard it. (Someday when I'm a little more confident in my voice, we may see a video of me performing it on the piano..)

Sometimes I wish that American Idol would give props to the Carpenters catalog, but then I realize that no one will ever come close to that voice and they will poo all over some of the most beautiful songs ever.
However, there's more to that song than describing the various little hair-triggers that depress Karen Carpenter (or really, Richard, since he wrote the song). The refrain of the song goes:

Funny but it seems I always wind up here with you
Nice to know somebody loves me
Funny but it seems that it's the only thing to do
Run and find the one who loves me
Which is hidden in the middle, sandwiched in between verses hilariously accurately documenting my life at the time, including the fact that my friends pretty much knew I was in a mood and that it always passes with time even if we didn't talk it out. But I think what the refrain may have touched on is that we may not like being sad, but we allow ourselves to feel sad because 1) it's just the healthy thing to do sometimes, and 2) it feels damn good when a dear friend is there to cheer you up. It's not even about relief from a specific problem, but yes, the fact that someone loves you is comforting enough.

Unfortunately for me, I relied on that comfort too much and it burned out my friends in college. When I became aware of that fact far too late in life, I resolved to keep the sadness to myself. Sometimes, though, when someone really knows and loves you, they pull you out of your shell and try to cheer you up even if you don't ask. And it's extremely nice to know there's someone in your life like that.

But in the meantime, a little caloric comfort doesn't hurt in moderation. Sometimes for me it takes the form of a reasonable amount of french fries and soft-serve ice cream. Jelly doughnuts are not far behind. (Thankfully, running on a treadmill can also give an endorphin boost.) I suppose I should be thankful I don't get down as often as I used to! How do you seek comfort during those rainy days* and Mondays*?
* I am aware that these things may also make certain people happy. Just roll with it.
Big Sur Bakery Doughnuts (done)
Big Sur Bakery's Doughnuts from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook
I was surprised by how well these turned out despite my bread failures in the past. They are a great balance between chewy and meltingly soft. Unfortunately, like most homemade doughnuts, these are really only great the day they are made. If you're not looking forward to the calories, have plenty of friends nearby and they'll be more than happy to help. If you like, read my review of The Big Sur Bakery at The Gastronomer's Bookshelf.
  • 60g (1/4 cup) lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 310g (2-1/4 cups) bread flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • 180g (1-1/4 cups + 1 tablespoon) pastry flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 25g (2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 40g (5 tablespoons) whole milk powder
  • 180g (3/4 cup) cold water
  • 85g (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • canola oil, for frying
In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the lukewarm water and sprinkle the yeast over. Stir and leave for 5 minutes.

In another large bowl, whisk together the bread flour, pastry flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg, and milk powder until combined. Take about 1-1/2 cups of this and add it to the activated yeast, along with the cold water, unsalted butter, and egg. With the dough hook fitted, mix on low for a minute. With the mixer still on, add the remaining flour mixture in the span of a minute. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 2 minutes, then scrape down the sides and knead on high speed for 2 minutes. Spray a large bowl with baking spray, place the dough inside and cover the top loosely with cling film. Refrigerate overnight.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface and roll 1/2 inch thick. Cut out 9cm (3-1/2 inch) doughnut rounds, with a hole diameter of 2.5cm (1 inch). Line a sheet pan with a linen towel and dust it with flour. Place the doughnuts and the holes on the pan and cover loosely with cling film. Let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Fill a pot with oil about 2 inches deep and heat over low heat until the oil reaches 160°C (325°F). The book actually says medium heat and 175°C (350°F), but I like my doughnuts relatively paler. Fry the doughnuts without crowding, flipping halfway through cooking, which should take about 4 minutes in all. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.

Doughnut Glaze
  • 180g (1-1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 63g (3 tablespoons) honey
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 45g (3 tablespoons) whole milk
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip the top half of the cooled doughnuts and shake off the excess.

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