So I have to be completely honest. This post was going to be about something else entirely. I had every intention of doing a post to tie in with my guest post for Eating Rules – October: Unprocessed project. It was going to be a baked good that was completely unprocessed, with whole grains, vegan even. I had written it all out, and all I needed to do was tweak the recipe, when I realized it was the day before the Daring Baker’s Challenge was due. So I bounced over there with EVERY intention of posting in the forums stating “I won’t be able to make the challenge this month…” and then I SAW the challenge. DONUTS. I’ve always wanted to make donuts. Damn it. So I caved and made the exact opposite of a healthy whole grained baked good. I made a salted apple caramel bourbon glazed donut. Yep. I caved real bad. But what the hey, these suckers are worth it. 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.
Growing up, we have very few sweet treats in the house. My mom occasionally made her blueberry cheesecake or marble bundt cake for the monthly Bridge Club, but otherwise, sweet treats were not really available, which meant I had to either pilfer them from my friends’ houses (which, let’s face it, always hit or miss in terms of selection) or make my own (leading me to baking cookies – lots and lots of cookies).
But somehow Dunkin’ Donuts arrived on our kitchen table every now and then. It was always a happy day when I’d come down from my bedroom to find their signature pink, orange and white box waiting for my siblings and me. I’d open up the box to see the colorful frostings, hoping that my mom would have gotten me the vanilla kreme filled donut (not the bavarian kreme filled one, that’s the one that my dad liked – no the vanilla kreme filled donut which in retrospect was basically a frosting filled donut). I was probably a ridiculous site, with my bowl haircut (what small Asian boy DIDN’T have a bowl haircut) munching on my donut with powdered sugar all over my face and a huge grin.
I can’t wait to have kids so I can witness that.
Dunkin’ Donuts don’t exist here in San Francisco and it’s actually been awhile since I’ve been to one. I was recently at the Dulles Airport waiting for a delayed flight back to San Francisco (I flew to DC for my sister’s wedding – which his a whole other epic post yet to be written) and I saw a directional sign pointing to Dunkin’ Donuts. I was tempted to go and see if they had the vanilla kreme filled donut but then I realized that my palate has changed in the past 30 years. Any nostalgia I would have for the donut would surely be overruled by the sweetness factor.
Thinking about it, the last time I went to a donut shop, I was at Voodoo Donuts up in Portland Oregon. A definite different twist on the donuts, the shop had a rock ‘n’ roll kitch feel with absurd donut flavors (Captain Crunch, Fruit Loops, M & Ms) and shapes (Voodoo Doll, Cock-N-Balls, Gay Bar). We got an assortment of donuts and though I enjoyed them for what they were, I realized I wanted something more adult in flavor than they provided. I wasn’t going to be encrusting my homemade donuts with any breakfast cereal as fun as it looked.
However, I kept on reminiscing on the donuts I had at the Meals on Wheels event I went to in May. Local donut purveyor Dynamo Donuts had a table where they were offering some amazing donuts where the flavor profiles were a little more sophisticated. Vanilla Bean, Apricot Cardamom, Chocolate Spice, Passion Fruit were all amazing to look at, but there was only one that AJ and I gravitated towards (and really we could only eat just one as we were stuffed – go look at my blog post about that event and you’ll understand why). It ended up being one of their signature donuts, the salted caramel glazed donut. I was so making that one.
But I wanted it still a little more adult and something a little more seasonal. So how about an apple caramel glaze? With a little booze to go in the glaze? This is not a donut my 7-year old self would like. Nor is it the donut that I will be serving my child in the future. But since AJ and I keep on trying to get pregnant and it’s just doesn’t seem to be happening, I think I’m safe for the time being munching on this here donut.
Salted Apple Caramel Bourbon Glazed Donuts
This recipe is adapted from The New Best Recipes by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated.
3 – 3 1/4 cups (15 – 16 1/4 oz) all purpose flour
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant yeast
6 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2/3 cups buttermilk at room temperature
2 large eggs
6 Tbsp butter, softened but not melted
5-6 cups Crisco or vegetable shortening
Apple Caramel Bourbon Glaze (recipe to follow)
Sea salt to sprinkle on top
1. Whisk together three cups of the flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
2. In a standing mixer bowl whisk together the buttermilk and eggs until combined. Add the flour mixture and using the dough hook, mix on medium for about three or four minutes. A ball of dough should have formed but if it hasn’t mix for another minute or two.
3. While the mixer is on, add the butter, a tablepoon at a time while the mixer is on, incorporating the butter before adding more. The dough will become sticky. Once you’ve added all the butter, continue to mix the dough for another three or four minutes longer. If the dough isn’t coming together after a minute, start adding the extra flour, one tablespoon at a time, until a soft dough forms.
4. Lift the dough out of the bowl, spray the bowl lightly with neutral tasting cooking oil, and then put the dough back into the bowl and spray the top of the dough lightly with the oil. Then wrap the top with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise, double it size, 2 ½ hours or so (depends on how warm your kitchen/home is).
5. Once the dough has risen turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough out to about 1/2” thickness. Using a donut cutter, cut out as many donuts as you can. Gather the scraps together, reroll the dough, and continue to cut as many as you can. Any leftover scraps can also be rolled together to be “donut holes”.
6. Place the cut out donuts and holes on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise until puffy (about 45 minutes).
7. Heat the shortening until it’s 375˚F in a heavy cast iron dutch oven. Gently place (don’t drop – the oil will splash and it’s not pretty) four to five donuts in the oil and let them brown for 45 to 60 seconds on each side. (donut holes take 20 to 30 seconds to brown on each side). Take out and place on a rack to drain. Wait for the oil to come back to 375˚F before frying the rest of the doughnuts.
8. Let the donuts rest until cool enough to handle. Then dip them in the caramel glaze and sprinkly lightly with sea salt flakes. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
Note 1. These don’t really keep past 24 hours, and are best within the first two hours, so eat them fast. Which shouldn’t be a problem.
Note 2. If you don’t have a donut cutter (I mean who does? If you do, you probably don’t need my recipe as you obviously know what you are doing) just MacGyver it by using a 3″ round biscuit cutter and then cut the hole out with a smaller cookie cutter or the back of a metal pastry tip (which is what I did).
Apple Caramel Bourbon Glaze
1 cup apple cider
3 Tbsp bourbon (divided)
1 3” cinnamon stick
1 cup of sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1. Pour the apple cider into a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Let the apple cider reduce uncovered to 1/3 cup (about 15 minutes or so).
2. Once the cider has reduce, add two tablespoons of the bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark) and the cinnamon stick. Bring it back to a boil, and then turn off the heat.
3. Pour the sugar and the corn syrup into a large heavy pot (preferably not a nonstick version – you have a better judge of how the caramel is cooking if the surface is silver not black). Turn the heat on to high. Shake the pot occasionally until you see the edges of the sugar start to melt a little. Then reduce the heat to medium low.
4. As the sugar melts using a heatproof spatula stir the sugar around to make sure it even melts. The sugar might clump up and start to caramelize unevenly. If this happens. Just turn off the heat and stir, trying to break up the sugar lumps. Do this until you feel like it’s more evenly distributed in color, and then turn the heat back on.
5. Once the sugar has caramelized to a nice amber gold and is transparent (if it’s still a little opaque the sugar hasn’t melted completely) turn the heat off and pour the apple cider mixture into it carefully. The mixture will bubble and steam up. BE CAREFUL. You don’t want to burn yourself!
6. Once the bubbling has stopped, take the heatproof spatula and stir the caramel glaze together. After the heat has dissipated a little bit, add that one final tablespoon of bourbon. The caramel should be relatively thin, but if it seems too thick (keep in mind it thickens much more as it cools) you can add a tablespoon of apple cider, water, or if you like your booze, another tablespoon of bourbon to thin it out.
Note 1. I like to add that extra tablespoon of bourbon at the end because most of the alcohol has burned off by the heat of the caramel. I like to be able to taste the alcohol, but if you don’t feel free to add all three tablespoons in the beginning of the recipe. You’ll still get a nice depth of flavor that the bourbon adds, without the alcohol kick.
Note 2. This glaze thickens a lot when cooled. You can warm it up but put it on the stove top over low heat or in the microwave for 30 seconds to thin it out a little. You need it relatively warm to glaze the donuts properly.