Many people have recipe deal breakers or phobias when it comes to specific cooking techniques and ingredients. One of mine, and I have a few (that you can probably work out by looking at what I don’t post <cough> pies <cough>), is deep frying.
There are no particular traumas associated with this prejudice, just a general feeling that it involves too much oil, and mess, and banning kids from the kitchen, and just stuff! So I basically don’t deep fry. But…
Nearly every time my sister and I get together we talk about doughnuts. Specifically, Berlin Doughnuts. The original, the ‘Ur-doughnuts’ for our family, are the apricot yeasted doughnuts made by a Hungarian cake shop in Adelaide dating back to my early childhood. Later on they were replaced in the collective memory by Berlin Doughnuts, even though my mother only made them a couple of times, and my sister and I made them once about five years ago…
So, on the way back from our recent trip north, for some reason we decided to stop talking about them, and just go ahead and make some. We bought litres of oil, my sister dug out her deep fryer and very useful little squeezable cake decorator with a tube nozzle, and we set about making doughnuts.
And, as I was flipping the second batch, I decided that deep-frying is really not that complicated or scary. It requires a bit of hands on attention, and is still not something I’ll do every day, or even every week, but I can imagine doing it again, if only to make another batch of these doughnuts! Next up, pie 🙂
On the doughnuts themselves, there may be many different versions of Berlin Doughnuts, but what I mean by them is a round yeasted doughnut, filled with jam, and sprinkled with icing sugar. We filled them with jam after frying, as if you fill before, it’s quite hard to get the dough around the jam to cook thoroughly. The dough puffs beautifully, and becomes light and fluffy as you can see, with a thin, crisp crust. And if you’re wondering, they’re absolutely worth the effort and terribly moreish – out of this huge batch there were only about four left at the end!
Adapted from recipes in The Joy of Cooking and the AWW Cooking Class Cookbook
- 250ml warm water
- 4 tsp dry yeast
- 90g sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- grated zest of a lemon
- 140g very soft unsalted butter
- 630g plain flour
- oil for deep frying (we used approx 1.5 litres rice bran oil)
- jam for filling (I recommend apricot or plum, and the Polish or Czech ‘Powidl’ plum spread would also be delicious I think)
- icing sugar to serve
Add all the ingredients, in the given order, to the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl. Mix on low speed, or beat with a wooden spoon, until fully combined. The dough will still be quite sticky. Cover with a cloth, and allow to rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours depending on room temperature. If you prefer, you can refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Turn the risen dough out onto a floured bench or silicon sheet, and pat out to a bit over a centimetre thick (about 1/2”). Cut out circles with a floured 5cm (2”) cutter – we used a small glass. Lightly knead scraps together and keep cutting until all dough is used up.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or deep pan to 185C. Add three or four dough circles to the hot oil, and cook until deep golden brown underneath and almost doubled in height before turning. Using a deep fryer and four doughnuts at a time this took us 2 1/2 minutes per side.
When browned, remove with a strainer or slotted spoon to a plate covered with paper towel. Allow to cool slightly, then fill with about 2 tsp jam using a cake decorator or piping bag with long nozzle. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Makes approximately 30 small doughnuts