Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October's Daring Bakers Challenge - Doughnuts!

Yesterday I was part of a group of volunteers at my son's school who made a record (for our school or maybe there is World Record for making cannoli shells?) 2700 cannoli shells in preparation for a stall we hold annually at our local festival. It occurred to me that it has been almost a year since Lisa Michelle
of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives  challenged us to prepared cannoli. At that stage I had only been blogging for a month and had been a member of the Daring Bakers for 5 months. Since that time I have enjoyed a years worth of challenges, learnt so many techniques, made wonderful friends with other like minded people and had so much fun. Thank you to everyone who reads Marcellina in Cucina and for so many kind comments. So I didn't exactly celebrate a "blog anniversary" but it is a milestone which when recognised makes me realise the rewards that have come my way in the past year.
Anyway, onto the main reason for this post. Our challenge this month involved deep frying as did those cannolis last year. This  make many a baker uncomfortable as we are "bakers" not "fryers" but that is the whole point of a challenge. 
The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Lori gave us the option to make yeast or cake doughnuts, fried or baked. The only mandatory requirement was that we were to use one of her recipes of which Lori provided four - Yeast Doughnuts,Bomboloni, Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts and Pumpkin Doughnuts. I wanted the real deal so I opted to the yeast doughnuts DEEP FRIED! Mmmmm!
Also coincidentally I had recently bought cardamom pods in order to recreate Finnish Sweet Bread and Finnish Jam Doughnuts I yearned for from my childhood. I was raised in a multicultural area where my mum befriended other women from various countries around the world and loved swapping recipes.My Italian mum became a true Finnish woman when she prepared her sweet Pulla (Finnish Bread).  Sadly, my mum passed away before I was old enough to learn from her. Though I have tried her recipe and recipes given to me by the dear Finnish ladies, I haven't ever replicated Mum's delicious Pulla. Mum's Pulla was baked with love and to the child in me, the taste will never me replicated.
As wonderful as Mum's Pulla was she never attempted Hillomunkit (Finnish Jam Doughnuts) which we children devoured at our Finnish friends birthday parties (yes, they were some birthday parties!). So here was my opportunity. Alton Browns Yeast Doughnuts seemed similar to Hillomunkit recipes I had seen. 

So the Challenge was on!     


Alton Browns Yeast Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)  I used butter
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz  I omitted this
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)


1.Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
2.Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
3.In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
4.Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
5.Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
6.Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
7.Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size

8.On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
9.Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. 

Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.


I divided the dough in half before the first rising. Allowed it to prove and then shaped one half into doughnuts with holes as above. To the other half I added 1 tablespoon of freshly crushed cardamom seeds and allowed it to prove (rise). I cut rounds with a 2 inch cutter , plopped a small teaspoonful of raspberry jam into the centre and brush the edge with water.I topped this with another round and sealed the edges well.

With some I tried cutting a large round, plopping on the jam and then gathering up the edges to seal in the jam. Both ways worked well, though the second method was more difficult to seal.

Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

10.Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
11.Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown
12.Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

The Hillomunkit were everything I remembered and transported me back to those parties running under the cool shade trees.

At my son's request I glazed some of them and though the glaze never really set like I would have wanted it to, they were better than anything I have taste from the doughnut franchises popping up around our part of the world. The great thing is that I found all the varieties could be frozen successfully. Just zap in the microwave to warm when the Doughnut munchies hit!

Thank you  Lori! I enjoyed this challenge soooo much!  Check out Anakalia and Almost Bourdain for some great doughnuts and Audax for great tips on doughnut making!


  1. What great inspiration for the challenge. I am sure your mom would be so proud if she could see all of the wonderful kitchen accomplishments she has made. Your donuts (all of them!) look absolutely delicious. Great job!

  2. Your doughnuts are so beautiful, and even better that you recreated a treasured childhood memory. I made some of your cardamom and jam doughnuts, with plum jam, so thanks for the inspiration!

  3. I was happy when I saw your posting for Finnish doughnuts which where a cherished childhood memory for me and your doughnuts look perfect and it is good that the yeast doughnut was easy to convert to Finnish doughnuts. Wonderful photo also I love how the jam is in the centre of the doughnut. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  4. Your doughnuts are so pretty. I think I'd go for those jelly filled ones, my favorite.

  5. Great looking doughnuts! Very nicely done.

  6. I love changing recipes, too :) Your doughnuts look great (I used the same recipe) and the taste is divine. I believe that your mom really would be proud of you and that your Pulla will be as good as hers used to be :)

  7. They look wonderful! I love the idea of putting the jam in the dough BEFORE it is fried, I tried putting it into the doughnut after it was cooked and it was quite a messy procedure. I'll try it your way next time.

  8. What a lovely recreation. It's so nice that you're now able to share them with your own family.

  9. Congratulations on your blog anniversary.
    Liked your doughnuts especially those jam filled ones. Cardamom is my favourite spice and I'm always ready to add it to anything if I think it would work. :)

  10. Your doughnuts are great! Although it has different names or shapes, I think the yeast doughnut recipe reminds everyone's childhood! In Brazil, we call it "sonho" (that translated means dream). Nice to know another name for it, and a little bit of your history ;)

  11. This challenge must have been really special to you! Great memories brought back with fabulous food! Your doughnuts look amazing ... as everything you do!!! Happy blog anniversary!!!

  12. love the way you show all the steps in photos....Lovely photos. Love your blog.

  13. Happy 2700 cannoli shells! I am sure every one of DBers have learnt and will keep on learning new things....

    Adore the frosting of your doughnuts, just lovely and tempting :-)

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  14. Oh, lovely and sad story about your mom but isn't it nice just how our mother's influence goes on and on! And your doughnuts are just perfect! Delicious!

  15. Oh, so many beautiful donuts! Love all the variety! The jelly donuts are jumping out at me:) I wish I had made some.
    Holy cannoli...2700! WOW! How many of you helped make them? Kudos to you!

  16. Thanks for sharing your memories with us! Your doughnuts look beautiful. The jam doughnuts look particularly delightful. :)

  17. Those are delicious looking donuts, especially the jam-stuffed ones! Good job!

  18. I love that you took a memory of your Mom's learned Finnish donuts and morphed the recipe into them. They look beautiful and deep fried delicious! BTW, will never forget your cannoli shells, most bubbles I've ever seen..absolutely perfect and gorgeous cannoli shells ever! I dub you Deep Fry queen :)

  19. Happy Anniversary Marcellina! Wow time sure flies, I remember that canolli post of yours :) The Hillomunkit turned out fabulous, and the glazed ones are so pretty. Well done and so glad to have met you thru the DBs.

  20. Wow these pictures made me want to eat more doughnuts, they look so, so delicious and beautiful.
    Yes I was playing with my dough ha ha ha :)) it was a lot of fun ;)

  21. Thanks for checking out my blog and commenting on my bomboloni. Your doughnuts turned out fabulous as well. I tried to comment on as many blogs as possible but its almost impossible to get to all! :) Definitely try the carmelitas!


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