Donuts Redux: Can’t Stop the Deep Frying

February 9th, 2012

apple crumb donuts

Valentine’s Day just around the corner? How did we get to February already? Well, just in case that you thought that getting married meant an end to romance, I am concocting something hopefully-appropriately-amorous for next week. In the meantime, you can hop over to Gourmet Live and see my contribution to the Top 15 Romantic Restaurants across America. It’s hard to choose from the ever-updating pool of restaurants in SF, but this is one of my current faves.

Also, to tide you over until V-day, another donut recipe! (So I still had donuts on the brain after two weeks of deep-frying). The donut class I taught was about 5 hours long, which wasn’t nearly enough time to cover all the types of donuts out there, or all the ways you can fill and decorate them (maybe a part 2 class is necessary?) This is one recipe that didn’t make it into the class, but I really wanted to include: an apple filled donut with a crumb topping.

apple crumb donuts interior

This donut combines my favorite cinnamon apple filling with my favorite type of donut topping – crumb. Actually, since you need to glaze the donuts so that the crumb topping will stick, it has both of my favorite donut toppings, so it’s kind of a can’t-miss. The recipe has several parts, but you don’t need to make them all, and you can get quite a few permutations out of the various components: the actual donut is a great basic yeasted donut recipe, and you can make simple donuts and donut holes with it. If you don’t feel like making the streusel crumb topping, you can just glaze the donuts. I like the apple filling because it’s not overly sweet and makes this donut a cross between coffee cake, Danish, and fried pie, but you can also fill the donuts with jam, pastry cream, Nutella – you get the picture.

apple crumb donut filling

Normally, for filled donuts the easiest way to make them is just to cut out rounds of dough, fry up the donuts, and then use a piping bag fitted with a long tip (like a Bismarck tip) to pipe the filling in. However, because the apple filling is so thick, it works better to sandwich them between two rounds of dough, then use a biscuit cutter to re-cut and seal the edges together. Make sure you leave enough of a border all around so there’s room to re-cut the donuts. They look a little like flat biscuits up there in the photo, but once they go through a second proofing they’ll get nice and pillowy-fluffy again.

I’ve had some questions from students who are afraid of working with yeast, and I have to say donuts are probably one of the easiest ways of working with yeast. There is so much sugar in the dough, that it’s practically impossible that the yeast won’t develop and rise. Plus, all that sugar plus butter makes the dough pretty forgiving taste-wise as well; you’re not relying on just flour, water, salt, and proper technique as you are with bread. My personal cooking fear is not yeast but hot oil: that’s one of the reasons I prefer baking to cooking. Mastering yeasted donuts was an excellent motivator for me to conquer that fear.

Ok, I need to go through serious donut detox after this, but it was worth it for the this last recipe!

apple crumb donut strainer

Apple Filled Crumb Donuts

Yeasted Donuts

  • 7 ounces (199 g) water
  • 1 ounce (28 g) whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons (38 g) sugar
  • 1/2 ounce (14 g) active dry yeast
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 3 ounces (85 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/2 g) ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
  • 16 ounces (453 g) all purpose flour
  • vegetable oil for frying

Apple Filling

  • 1 large tart apple like Granny Smith
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 2/3 tablespoon (10 g) lemon juice
  • 2/3 tablespoon ( 5 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) ground cinnamon

Streusel Crumb Topping

  • 1 cup (125 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 1/2 g) salt
  • 6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1-in pieces

Glaze

  • 1 cup (110 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the donuts: Combine water and milk in a measuring cup and heat to 110 degrees in the microwave.
  • Combine the warm water and milk, sugar and yeast in a medium bowl, whisking to dissolve the yeast. Set aside until the yeast is active and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the remaining ingredients and knead with dough hook on low speed until dough comes together into a ball. This should not take long; don't overknead the dough.
  • Turn dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, about an hour.
  • While the dough is proofing, make the filling: Peel, core, and chop the apple in 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for about 8 minutes until the apples are semi-soft.
  • Add sugar, lemon juice, flour, and cinnamon to the apples and stir to combine.
  • Cook until mixture begins to bubble, then turn heat to low and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer filling to a bowl and let cool.
  • You can also make the streusel: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt and mix to combine.
  • Add butter and mix until crumbly and the butter pieces are very small. If you squeeze the mixture together, it should hold together in small lumps.
  • Spread streusel mixture out on a sheet pan lined with parchment or a Silpat. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating sheet once halfway through and turning over the mixture with a fork, until the streusel is golden and dry. Remove from oven and let cool. Break up large clumps if necessary.
  • Punch donut dough down and roll out on a lightly floured surface to ½-inch thick. Use a 3-inch donut cutter to cut as many donuts as possible on the first cutting. Place the donuts on a parchment-or-silpat-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let proof for 10 to 15 minutes. You can re-roll the remaining dough once, cut out the remaining donuts and add them to the baking sheet.
  • Flatten out half of the donut circles slightly, so they are now bigger than 3" wide. Place a heaping tablespoon of the apple filling in the center of each circle. Place the remaining circles of dough over the filling, pressing down the edges slightly to seal. Use the same cutter to cut the donuts down to 3" again, sealing the edges together in the process.
  • Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 350 F. Fry a few donuts at a time until cooked through and golden brown (about 1 1/2 minutes per side), flipping them over halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel-covered wire rack to drain and cool slightly.
  • For the glaze: In a wide bowl, mix together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Add more milk as necessary to make a liquid glaze.
  • Dip donuts first in glaze, and then in the streusel crumb topping to coat. Set on wire rack to dry.

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