Monday, December 31, 2012

Sugar and Spice Baked Yeast Doughnuts

It's been a while, friends.  And I'm sorry for the silence, I truly am.  But when I have 45 minutes notice that I need to pack for a two week trip, a few things are bound to be forgotten.  Unfortunately one of those things ended up being all of my notes for several recipes I had planned on sharing with you.  I missed you all and am so glad to be back home in a familiar kitchen ready to cook up some great recipes for the new year.
 In the meantime, these little beauties will be what my family is waking up to on New Year's Day.  We're huge yeast doughnut fans in my house- the cake ones are nice and all, but just don't quite hit the spot.  I suppose it's in our blood- my Italian grandmother would always make us a batch of bomboloni (fried doughnuts) on New Year's Eve, one of my fondest memories and favorite treats.  And one of my grandfather's many jobs was to deliver freshly fried and frosted doughnuts every morning.  So I thought I would continue that tradition with our New Year's breakfast.
 But standing at the stove frying batch after batch of doughnuts does not sound like a fun way to spend time with my family, so I'm going to use my oven to help me out.  A bit of advance preparation the night before is all that it takes to get these doughnuts on the table piping hot in the morning without having to get up at the crack of dawn.  You still get the sweet, soft yeast dough without all the fuss and mess of the hot oil.  A little roll in some melted butter and spiced up sugar and you're in business.
Sugar and Spice Baked Yeast Doughnuts
Makes 1 dozen doughnuts.  Adapted from Doughnuts by Lara Ferroni.
For the printable recipe, click here.

This is a great make ahead treat.  You can get the dough mixed up the night before and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator.  All you need to do in the morning is roll and cut out the doughnuts, then let them rise for a bit.  The kids will love helping you dip the doughnuts in the butter and sugar- it's a bit messy, but that's part of the fun.  I wanted to say that these are guilt free doughnuts since they aren't fried, but who am I kidding?  Between the butter in the dough and what you brush on to make the sugar stick, there's plenty to be guilty about.  I'll be sure to try to remember that as I lick the sugar off my fingers.

1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk, heated to 115 degrees
1 tbs active dry yeast
2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 1/2 cup to 3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup room temperature butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.  Add the milk, vanilla, and yeast and mix on medium speed until blended.  Add 2 cups of the flour a 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low speed.  Beat until the dough is thick and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Switch to the dough hook.  With the mixer on medium add the chunks of butter one piece at a time, beating until no large chunks of butter are left, 3-5 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and add additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough gathers around the hook and comes cleanly off the sides of the bowl.  You want a soft, moist but not overly sticky dough.

Lightly butter a large bowl and turn the dough into the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight (or if making right away place the bowl in a warm spot and let the dough double in volume, about 1 hour). 

In the morning, pull the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to 1/2 inch thick.  Using a doughnut cutter or 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut the doughnuts out.  Use a 1 inch cutter to cut the holes.  Place the doughnuts on a parchment lined baking sheet at least 1 inch apart from each other.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 30-35 minutes, until nearly doubled in size (if you are using warm dough this will only take about 20 minutes).  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake the doughnuts for 5-8 minutes until they are lightly golden. While they are baking, mix the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a shallow dish.  Immediately dip or brush the baked doughnuts with the melted butter and toss in the sugar and spice mixture.  The doughnuts are best eaten right away.

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