I'm starting to notice that we each are developing a style by which we choose our ingredients. With weeks like kale, corn, zucchini and squash, your picks are usually heavy hitting staple items that easily can be the star of a dish. Interestingly enough, you've stuck only to produce.
I, on the other hand, seem to have almost the opposite approach. Of course this was unintentional, but my choices, such as blue cheese, avocado, garlic and cinnamon are almost NEVER spotlighted in a dish. Instead they hide in the background creating depth or are added on top just to enhance a dish. I wonder what our ingredient choices say about us? And more importantly, I wonder how we will choose ingredients from here on out having identified our styles.
But, I digress. I''m here to chat about cinnamon this week. It's hard to choose a dish that highlights all the subtleties of cinnamon - should I go savory or sweet? spicy or delicate? Well since I have an incredible sugar addiction (I'd call it a sweet tooth, but I'd be grossly under representing the power sugar has over me) I think the answer is pretty obvious. Sugary and delicate it is. And what's more sugary and delicate that a cinnamon sugar doughnut?
I got this recipe for baked doughnuts from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks. It's an unusual find actually, as it contains a good dose of the three things she tries not to use often - white flour, white sugar and salt. It's definitely worth the indulgence though - and if you have to justify it, just tell yourself they are baked instead of fried.
I first attempted to make these doughnuts with my friend, Rachel. We turned it into an after work project on Thursday and ate dinner while the dough proofed. But I think a combination of variables -milk that was too hot, a kitchen that was too cold - may have killed the yeast and the result was more of a cinnamon sugar bagel than a doughnut. Nonetheless, it was a delicious bagel. And since Rachel and I both are trying to improve our baking skills, we considered it a lesson learned.
But by Saturday I was still thinking about what went wrong with our doughnuts. It was an unusually warm day and I already planned to go to the store, so I decided to attempt them again. I used a candy thermometer I bought for the French/Belgian fry post to monitor the hot liquids and I left the dough to proof in very warm place. And it worked! The dough rose beautifully.
After I made the doughnut shapes from the proofed dough, I left half the dough out to rise on top of the oven and put the other half of the doughnuts in the fridge so I could bake them the next day. After a successful night out on the town Saturday night, Kristen and I popped the proofed doughnuts in the oven (at 2am) and had a delish midnight snack. The following day, I baked off the rest of the dough and brought the goods to a painting party at Kelly's new condo. Both days, they were a real crowd pleaser - although I have to say the sooner you eat them out of the oven, the better they are.
Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts
Don't over bake these, if anything, under bake them a bit - they will continue baking outside the oven for a few minutes. You want an interior that is moist and tender - not dry. Also, be sure to cut big enough holes in the center of your doughnuts - too small and they will bake entirely shut. Remember they rise, and they rise even more when they are baking. These really need to be made-to-order, but you can make and shape the dough the night before if you want to serve them for brunch. Instructions: after shaping, place doughnuts on baking sheet, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Pull them out an hour before baking, and let rise in a warm place before baking.
1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour (alternately, white whole wheat might work - haven't tried it yet)
a pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt - just until the flour is incorporated. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. This is where you are going to need to make adjustments - if your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place (I turn on the oven at this point and set the bowl on top), and let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. Most people (like myself) don't have a doughnut cutter, instead I use a 2-3 inch cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. If you cut the inner holes out any earlier, they become distorted when you attempt to move them. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately if not sooner.