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.
I'm really glad you decided to participate this month! The world is a much better place for your amazingly shiny doughnuts.
I'm going to have to try a cinnamon glaze. Despite my love for cinnamon, it's not something I've ever tried. Weird….
Oh my… I may have a new convert to Gluten-Free Challenge for myself. These look amazing!!!
Great job!!! Your doughnuts look amazing and I love the idea of the salt to counteract the sweet. Sweet and salty is my absolute favorite combination. 🙂
Your donuts look fantastic! Amazing flavors too, salted caramel is a favorite of mine 🙂
Beautiful doughnuts! They are amazingly shiny, and the glaze sounds amazing. I was in Portland working for a bit, and made a few visits to Voodoo Donuts, but, like you, didn't try to recreate any of them. Oh, and that childhood photo brings back 70s memories. I had a bowl cut too.
Salted Apple Caramel Bourbon Glazed Doughnut sound so sophisticated and very adult. That glaze is so shiny and silky what a great flavour profile. Well done this challenge.
Love that photo for your family so cool in a strange way LOL LOL.
Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.
Serene @ MomFood says
Holy crap. Those are a thing of beauty.
I just drooled on my keyboard. Really. I am so impressed with your recipe and the look of the beauties and….I love the family photo!
Mr. Jackhonky says
@Kat. Thanks! Ha! I dunno if the world is a better place, but certainly my kitchen was! Let me know how your cinnamon glaze turns out. I love cinnamon too, which is why I threw a cinnamon stick into the glaze. I wanted to give it a little spice.
@jenskitchen. Thank you! Tell me how the gluten free conversion goes!
@E.K.R. Thank you! Sweet and salty is totally one of my fave combos too.
@chef_d AJ adores salted caramel. So I couldn't resist making these!
@Mary. Thank you! Portland is beautiful and is a great city! Voodoo was definitely fun for it's novelty but I doubt I would go very often if I lived there. And I think every child in the 70s had a bowl cut.
@Audax. Thank you! I would never call myself sophisticated and adult, but I was pretty happy with the way the donuts turned out! And yes, the photo from the 70s is pretty awesome. I love it!
@kudzu. I love that! Thank you! And yes, the family pic. My sister got married this past weekend (as I mentioned) and we had to scan images for the slideshow and so this photo was floating in my hard drive… pretty cool eh?
You can cross off number 5 on your unfinished business list (; These look to die for! Thanks for sharing; at least I can imagine.
Your doughnuts make my teeth hurt, but damn! that are pretty. So happy to watch your DB challenges…wait until you see the monster I'm cooking up for next spring!
Mr. Jackhonky says
@Jeannie. OMG! Thank you! I totally forgot I put it on my unfinished list! whoo hoo! The glaze is amazing. Good for a lots of things. I had some leftover and I just used it on vanilla ice cream.
@Jenny. They actually aren't as sweet as they look. Shiny and sticky, but the salt and the bourbon cut the sweetness. As for the monster you're cooking up… I'm scared…
Ruth Ann says
Cool donuts! I bet that a version of the apple carmel glaze could be used in a lot of different dessert.
P.S. Love the family pic!
make my day says
This does sound like a very adult doughnut…..but it also takes me back a bit with the bourboun..wish they'd had these outside the nightclubs I went to once upon a time. HMMM DOUGHNUTS!!!
You were a ridiculously adorable little kid! Stylish indeed!
Mr. Jackhonky says
>@Ruth Ann. Thank you! One thing to keep in mind with the caramel glaze is that it's fairly stiff. Once you refrigerate or pour it on something cool (like ice cream) it pretty much solidifies. However if you stir in a few more tablespoons of cider/water/booze it'll loosen up. That said, I can't wait to use it in some other desserts, especially as a plating sauce.
@make my day. LOL. Oh, these donuts would have been great post nightclub/bar. Not that I go out that much anymore. I'm too old and boring.
@DianasaurDishes. Why thank you!
Your haircut is adorable, and your expression is just pure joy and mischief. Appropriate. 🙂
Question: Was that a fake background/backdrop or actual bookshelf behind you guys?
Mr. Jackhonky says
@Rachelino. Oh I was all sorts of mischief back then. You could ask my parents. Apparently I was quite the handful, from the get go.
And that picture is a classic Olan MIlls photo studio shot. It's TOTALLY fake. They STILL use those fake backgrounds. It's pretty awesome.
Aw youre cute in your back in time photo… the last time I went to visit back new england (where I'm from) in june, I went to dunkin donuts in the airport home, just on principal since theyre not here. I got a small iced coffee and two jelly filled munchkins I think. Im not a fan of donuts though, not even as a kid. Also, sadly, since we were in the airport, those were stale. I do think dunkins is missing from CA. but id never want to work there again! Those look good though. I remember when I was little and lived in VT we went to an apple cider place and had apple cider donuts freshly baked from there, and they were really yummy.
Mr. Jackhonky says
@Merri. Thanks! I have to say that the apple cider caramel glaze was pretty darn amazing. I'm ever so pleased I came up with it! that said, it's been YEARS since I've been to a Dunkin' Donuts. I probably should have tracked it down at the airport…just for nostalgia sake. but I didn't…
You are the funniest, most heart-zinging person ever. I love thinking about your future child, and also, I want to eat these donuts.
Love love LOVE.
How come doughnuts turn tough after just an hour in room temp? Commercially made donuts stay soft even after 8hrs just like donuts from Dunkin and KK. Would you happen to know what additives to add to my mix so that the resulting donuts stays as soft as that of commercially amde donuts? [email protected]
That’s a great questions. Just a couple of weeks ago Lara Ferroni (author of the excellent book Doughnuts) wrote a post about a possible solution in keeping homemade donuts from getting stale so fast.
A lot of commercial shops like Dunkin and KK use preservatives and chemicals to keep their dough from going bad, but she found that the added ingredient of SOY FLOUR actually makes a big difference, in keeping the doughnut both fresh by adding moisture AND keeping the dough from absorbing the oil as they fry.
Check out her post about this discover at http://www.laraferroni.com/2011/03/02/raised-doughnuts-v3-0/
chicken breast recipe says
You are very Nice, most heart-singing person ever. I just wish you all the luck and future, I want to eat these donuts.
Sending lots of love