Unbeknown to me, it was national doughnut day a few weeks ago. As soon as my WordPress, Instagram and Facebook feeds filled up with photo after photo of puffed, golden, chocolate covered doughnuts; I was mad that I had no idea this day even existed and more so that I’d missed it.
I hadn’t made doughnuts in a really long time. For me, they’re the ultimate sweet treat. So many people think of them as the ultimate guilt trigger too. The way I see it is that life’s too short not to eat delicious food. If you can’t eat it now then when are you ever going to eat it?
Lots of you have probably visited Borough Market in central London. The first time I went I was on my own; a scared London newbie with no idea where anything was. I walked around the market, strolling past the same stalls about fives times (only now do I realise I missed half the market.) It was a ridiculously busy saturday lunchtime and I was still overcoming the notion that I had to push to the front of the crowd to get served. Along with an abundance of bread, cheese, sweet treats and fresh vegetables, I came away with a morsel that would force me back to the market a whole lot more in the future.
A caramel and salted honeycomb doughnut. I can’t explain to you how heavenly this doughnut is. I gush about it enough in my Borough Market post. If you’re ever in central London, I whole heartedly urge you to go to the market and seek out this enticing bake at Bread Ahead bakery.
After dribbling over my keyboard at everyone’s national doughnut day creations, I decided I’d recreate my favourite treat. Everyday is national doughnut day in my house.
I had seen a few doughnut recipes using brioche dough and, since I’ve never found my perfect doughnut dough, decided to give it a shot. It was a pretty good decision and brioche will be my go-to choice for doughnuts in the future. The dough is light and pillowy inside, but stays burnished and crisp on the outside.
I then chose to fill my doughnuts with a salted caramel diplomat (a pastry cream let down with lightly whipped cream.) I was honestly shocked at how similar the filling I’d made was to the borough market doughnut. I stuffed the doughnuts with as much filling as I could fit, bursting a few in the process.
If you’re looking to reinvent your favourite childhood seaside snack, why not add a grown up twist with some delicate airy brioche and a copious helping of salted caramel cream.
- 260g strong white bread flour
- pinch of salt
- 25g caster sugar
- 7g instant yeast
- 70ml warm milk
- 3 medium eggs
- 125g unsalted butter, room temperature
- vegetable oil for frying
- extra caster sugar for rolling the doughnuts
Salted Caramel Diplomat
- 110g caster sugar
- 40ml water
- large pinch of salt
- 250ml milk
- 3 egg yolks
- 35g soft dark brown sugar
- 20g cornflour
- 20g unsalted butter
- 300ml double cream
The night before
For the Brioche Doughnuts:
- Place the bread flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine these before adding in the instant yeast. With the mixer on low, add in the warmed milk (make sure the milk isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast.) Next, add in the eggs. Turn the mixer to medium speed and leave the dough to knead for 5 minutes. Begin to add in the softened butter in small chunks, waiting for the previous chunk to be incorporated before the next. Once all the butter has been added, knead on medium speed for another 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place the brioche dough into a bowl greased with butter, making sure that the dough has room to double in size. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight to prove.
For the Caramel pastry cream:
- Place the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan over high heat.
- While the sugar is bubbling away for the caramel, place the milk into another saucepan and begin to warm.
- Watch the sugar syrup as it bubbles, swirling the pan every now and again to make sure that it cooks evenly. After a few minutes, the sugar should have become caramel. The colour should be golden brown.
- Make sure that the milk is nearly boiling and pour a small amount into the caramel off the heat. Be careful as the caramel will bubble violently. Once the bubbles die down, continue to add the rest of the milk. Stir the caramel milk over low heat, making sure that all the caramel pieces have dissolved.
- In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolks, dark brown sugar and cornflour. Pour over a small amount of the hot caramel milk and whisk into the egg yolks. Add the rest of the milk, stir and pour everything back into the pan to make your caramel pastry cream.
- Place the pan over medium heat and begin to cook the pastry cream. Slowly whisk the mixture until it starts to thicken. As soon as the pastry cream has thickened and begins to bubble, whisk very quickly on the heat to continue to cook out the cornflour; making sure it doesn’t burn. Once the pastry cream starts to bubble; cook it out for 2-3 minutes. Take off of the heat and whisk in the butter.
- Spoon into a bowl. Cover the surface with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
The following day
Frying your doughnuts:
- Take your brioche dough out of the fridge and line two baking trays with baking parchment ready for your cut doughnuts.
- Flour you work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/2 cm thick. Using a floured 2 inch cutter, cut out your doughnuts and place onto the prepared baking trays; leaving 2 inches between each. Re-roll any scraps and cut out more doughnuts. Once all the doughnuts are cut, cover them with a kitchen cloth and leave to prove for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- When you’re ready to start frying your doughnuts, fill a large saucepan 2-3 inches deep with vegetable oil. Place over medium heat until the oil reaches 180°C. Get a shallow dish ready with some caster sugar to drop your doughnuts into and a plate to set your sugared doughnuts on.
- Carefully pick up your doughnuts and drop in 2-3 at a time into the hot oil. Leave to cook on one side for a minute or two, then turn them over using a slotted spoon and cook on the other side for another minute until both sides are golden brown. Keep an eye on the temperature of your oil; if it gets too hot, lower the temperature as your doughnuts may cook too quickly on the outside and remain raw in the centre.
- Once the doughnut is golden and cooked to perfection, take them out of the oil and drop into the caster sugar. Roll the hot doughnuts around, coating them in the sugar. Move them onto another plate, making room for the next doughnuts.
- Once all the doughnuts are cooked, coated and cooled you can start to assemble.
Filling the doughnuts
- Take the caramel pastry cream from the fridge and beat for a few seconds until smooth with a spatula.
- Whisk the double cream in a separate bowl until it becomes very softly whipped. Take a spoonful of the cream and beat it into the pastry cream to let it down slightly before folding it through the remaining whipped cream. Place your caramel diplomat into a piping bag and snip the end off so that you have a small hole.
- Using a small sharp knife, poke a hole into the centre of each doughnut from the side. Fill the doughnuts by inserting the tip of the piping bag into the doughnut and piping in the filling. The doughnut should feel heavy if it’s filled completely.
- Eat as soon as they’re ready. The fresher the better!