This has been an adventure.
I recently acquired donut pans and have been experimenting with different recipes. All the recipes I found were very cake like. However, I wanted to make something more like a fried donut but baked in the oven. Fried donuts are made with a yeast dough, something I have experience with. Then I discovered the Instructables Baking Challenge. I decided that I wanted to try and enter with my not yet developed recipe for Oven-Baked "Fried" Donuts.
But I had a slight problem.
The contest deadline was in 6 days.
And I had never made or developed a recipe before.
I quickly made up a recipe for a yeast dough, guessing on the amounts of all the ingredients. I made the dough, adjusting the amount of flour as I went along. I let it rise, refrigerated it, and then shaped and baked them. They were surprisingly edible! However, they were VERY dense and rather chewy, so I judged that I had added too much flour.
5 days to deadline.
I reduced the flour and made it again. The second batch was much lighter and easier to chew but didn’t taste quite right. The dough itself tasted more like a pizza dough than a donut. My main problem was that the dough was not sweet enough, so I decided to try adding more sugar.
2 days to deadline.
I started batch three, with more sugar and shortening instead of butter. (I had read a bunch of copycat Krispy Kreme recipes and a lot of them had shortening, so I thought I would give it a try. In the end I don’t think that I could tell a difference between the batch with butter and the batch with shortening.) They were better, but still not quite the taste I want. I decided that I like the consistency of the dough, though I will continue to try and make them fluffier in the future. I only had time to make one more batch, so I decided to add more sugar and add a little more vanilla and salt in the hopes that it would enhance the flavor of the dough. The day before the contest ended I made batch four and took pictures. It worked pretty well! I want to continue to improve it, and if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them! Onto the recipe!
Step 1: Read the Recipe...
You will need:
3/4 c. Milk
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
2 tsp. Yeast (I use Instant Dry, Fast-Acting)
5 tbsp. Shortening or Butter(soften the butter)
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 c. All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Salt
Non-stick spray and/ or oil
and a large bowl, a whisk, a spatula, a rolling pin, a glass measuring cup, and a donut cookie cutter(or substitute).
Step 2: Preheat Your Oven
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. We want it to warm up so that the dough can rise in a warm place. When it is done preheating, turn it off.
Step 3: Yeast Activation
Put the milk into the glass measuring cup and heat it in the microwave for about 35 seconds, or until the milk is between 110-120 degrees F. If it is below 110 then it won't activate the yeast, but if it is above 120, it will kill the yeast.
Step 4: Add the Sugar and Yeast
Once your milk is ready, stir in the sugar and yeast, then set aside for about 10 minutes.
Step 5: Combine the Wet Ingredients
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, the shortening (or softened butter), the salt, and the vanilla together.
Step 6: Add the Milk/Sugar/Yeast Mixture
Once your yeast has set for a 10 minutes, it should have grown about 1/2 inch or so. Add it to the wet ingredients, make sure that you get all of the sugar that has collected on the bottom of the measuring cup. Whisk it all together.
Step 7: Add the Flour
Gradually whisk in the flour, reserving a little less than 1/2 cup. At this point it won't really look like dough, nor will it form a ball. Instead, it will look more like a very thick brownie batter.
Step 8: Let It Rise
Cover it with a towel and place in the warm oven. If your oven feels too hot, leave the door slightly open so that it doesn't start baking your dough. Leave it in there for about 1 hour. This gives the yeast a chance to grow, usually doubling the size of the dough.
Step 9: Adding More Flour
Once your dough has risen, take it out of the oven and uncover. Sprinkle some of the rest of the flour on top of the dough. Use your spatula to fold it into the dough. Slowly add the rest of the 1/2 cup, folding as you go. You may have to add more flour before it starts to form a ball.
Step 10: Kneading
Once you think you can handle the dough with out to much difficulty, turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Start kneading, it will be sticky, but you can add more flour if you need to, just try not to add too much more than a 1/4 cup. It will probably still be sticky, even after adding that much more flour, stick it out though, the faster you move, the easier it is. Knead it for 4-5 minutes, than place it back in the bowl. (The last picture shows the dough once I was done kneading it, yes, it will still be sticky)
Step 11: Keep Your Dough Fresh With Oil!
I like to dab a little oil on top of the dough and around the rim of the bowl. This helps keep the dough fresh.
Step 12: Chill the Dough
At this point you have a choice. Either you can chill the dough overnight, or you can chill it for a few hours. Either way, chilling it will make it easier to roll it out later. Also, don't be alarmed if it continues to rise in the fridge, it's fine. However, if you are leaving it until the morning, I would suggest punching the dough down before you go to bed.
Step 13: Prepare Your Pans
You can prep your pans one of two ways. Either you can use non-stick spray, or you can brush them with oil. I've tried both ways but haven't noticed a difference in taste. I used a cake pan for my donut holes.
Step 14: Roll Out the Dough
Lightly flour your counter, then turn your dough out onto it. Using your rolling pin roll the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch thick.
Step 15: Cut Out the Donut Shapes
I don't have a donut cookie cutter, so I used a cup and a small circular thing (that I think is a toothpick holder??). Just use whatever you have on hand. Try to get all of your donuts cut out the first time, because a) it will be harder the second time because the dough has warmed up, and b) they won't be quite as good as the first ones.
Now, this recipe makes either 12 donuts and 66 donut holes(!!!) or, 18 donuts and a few donut holes. OR, you could probably just reduce the recipe by a 1/3, which I think would get you 12 donuts and some donut holes.
Step 16: Place in Pans and Brush With Oil
I forgot a picture of this step, but it's pretty easy. Place the donuts in their pans. Brush oil on top of the donuts and dab a little onto the donut holes.
Step 17: Put Them in Your Oven
Notice that I haven't had you preheat your oven yet. Don't worry, it's coming...
Place your donuts and donut holes in the oven, THEN turn your oven onto 425 degrees Fahrenheit. We do this so that the donut holes can rise as the oven preheats. It also helps them get a beautiful golden color as the oil slowly browns.
Step 18: Bake Them!
Here's where it might get a little tricky.
All ovens are different, so you may have to watch them the first time. My oven preheated for 13 minutes, but once it was ready the donuts only baked for about 2 minutes. The donuts holes went in at the same time, but pull them out about a minute earlier than the donuts. They should be a nice, golden brown on top, but to make sure that they are fully baked use a fork to pry into the middle of one. I found that this way works best, better color, better texture, better donuts! But I also tried two other ways:
I tried baking them for a few minutes, flipping them and then baking them a few more minutes. Let's just say that I wouldn't recommend it. I also tried preheating the oven while the donuts rose (outside of the oven) then baking them. But again, I decided that I liked the way I told you to do it, the best.
NOTE: The donut holes will not look golden brown on top, but pull one apart to determine whether its ready or not.
Step 19: To Frost, or to Glaze...
Frost them with you favorite frosting or glaze! I used this recipe for my chocolate glaze/frosting, and this one for my glaze:
3 tbsp. melted Butter
2 tbsp. hot Water
1 c. Powdered Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
Step 20: Enjoy!
Even though it isn't perfect yet, I'm very pleased with the results. Again, if you have any suggestions to make the dough sweeter, I would love to hear them!