Baked, fried, yeasted, filled, coated in chocolate and covered in sprinkles or dipped in cinnamon sugar – how do you like your doughnuts?
Doughnuts are a type of leavened (usually with yeast) fried dough made popular in America when Dutch settlers brought their oly koek recipe (oily cakes) to New Yorkin the early 18th century. The oly koek was the grandfather of the modern doughnut, a deep-fried dough ball, or ‘nut’
One of the earliest mentions of doughnuts in literature was in the 1806 book A History of New York, from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by Washington Irving. In it he wrote,
“Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast of an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called dough-nuts, or oly koeks: a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, excepting in genuine Dutch families.”
It is thought that the ring-shaped doughnut we’re familiar with now came about around 1847 when a young 16-year-old American sailor on board a lime-trading ship, Hanson Gregory, punched a hole out of the centre of a doughnut ball before cooking it.
This ring was easier to cook all the way through, and got rid of the problem Gregory was fed up with – an undercooked doughnut centre.
Doughnut rings are made in two different ways – either by joining the two ends of a long, thin piece of dough, or by using a doughnut cutter which cuts out the centre hole. The resulting doughnut ‘hole’ can also be deep-fried is a firm favourite with doughnut lovers.
Yeasted doughnuts, whole balls of dough deep-fried in oil, are ideal for filling with jam or custard. My personal favourite is the Boston crème doughnut, a deep-fried yeasted doughnut filled with crème de patisserie and topped with chocolate ganache.
National doughnut day is celebrated in America on the first Friday in June every year, and so, to celebrate, I thought I’d share this super easy (and slightly healthier than the deep-fried version) baked mini-doughnut recipe.
This recipe is perfect for eating just as with an afternoon cuppa, or using as a mini doughnut decoration for the tops of freakshakes, birthday cakes, or even (as I served once on a dinner date) alongside panna cotta.
Feel free to get creative with the flavours too – replace the vanilla extract with any other flavouring, or substitute a little of the flour with cocoa powder to make chocolate doughnuts. Use white chocolate for the glaze, or make a simple icing sugar glaze instead, tinting it with your favourite colour.
Baked mini-doughnuts with a chocolate glaze and sprinkles
- 200 grams self-raising flour
- 120 grams caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/5 tsp sea salt
- 200 ml milk
- 50 grams butter, melted
- 3 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 free-range egg
- 100 grams dark chocolate
- 30 grams butter
- 3 tbsp double cream
- Sprinkles, to decorate
1. Preheat your oven to 160° C/ 320°F/ gas mark 3.
2. Lightly grease a 12-hole mini doughnut pan.
3. Place the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure the milk into a measuring jug and crack the egg into it. Beat lightly.
5. Add the vanilla and melted butter to the milk/egg mixture and stir to combine.
6. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients.
7. Whisk well to eliminate any lumps.
8. Pour the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large circular nozzle.
9. Pipe the batter into the doughnut rings until they’re half full (twice around is sufficient).
10. Bake in the centre of a preheated oven for 12minutes, until the doughnuts are well-risen, golden in colour and springy to the touch.
11. Transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack to cool completely,
12. Meanwhile, break your chocolate into a small bowl suspended over a pan of barely simmering water.
13. Add the butter and cream, and allow everything to melt together.
14. When the doughnuts are cooled, dip the tops of the doughnut into the chocolate glaze.
15. Turn upright and decorate with sprinkles, as desired.
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