Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jam Doughnuts

Many Americans might find it funny that jam doughnuts appear in a list of Hogwarts desserts, since we (gratuitous nation that we are) eat them for breakfast. But in Britain, sugary things belong in their rightful place at the end of a meal:

Blocks of ice cream in every flavor you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate eclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, Jello-O, rice pudding..." (Sorcerer's Stone, 125).

I may have mentioned before that doughnuts are not my favorite thing, but the recipe from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook seems pretty swell, so that's what I'll make today!

You Will Need:
1/2 cup warm water
4 1/2 tsp (2 packets) dry yeast
1 Tbs granulated sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
5 cups flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 cups peanut or vegetable oil
Your choice of jam (I used strawberry), and a pastry bag with a metal tip
confectioner's sugar, for dusting

1. Combine the water, yeast, and 1 Tbs sugar in a small mixing bowl and let it stand until the yeast is dissolved and the mixture is puffy.

2. Heat the butter and milk in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted.
3. Whisk the eggs into the mixture.

4. In a large bowl (the bowl of an electric mixer, if you have one), combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
5. Whisk the yeast mixture into the milk mixture and pour it into the flour mixture. Mix the dough and knead for 10 minutes or so. If the dough is very sticky (mine sure was!), add more flour 1/4 cup at a time (I probably added a full cup).

6. Knead the dough vigorously for 30 seconds or so, and transfer into an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and leave it to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1.5 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

7. Remove the dough from the dough and roll it out to 1/2" thick on a floured surface. I must roll my dough thinner than I think I do, because this recipe should make 12-18 doughnuts, but I ended up with 29!
8. Cut 3" circles of dough (I used a glass as a guide). Cut the remaining scraps into appropriate sized chunks. Place the dough circles and scraps on a piece of floured parchment or wax paper and leave them to rise for 1.5 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

9. Pour the vegetable oil into a pot and begin to heat on medium until a candy thermometer reads 350 degrees. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with 4 layers of paper towel.
10. Carefully place a couple doughnuts into the hot oil, fry until golden, using a metal spatula or tongs to be sure both sides fry evenly. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer the doughnuts to the paper-towel-lined baking sheets. Repeat until all the doughnuts are fried.

11. Sift the confectioner's sugar generously over the warm doughnuts.

12. When the doughnuts are cool, fill a pastry bag fitted with a metal tip with jam. Plunge the tip into the bottom (I went through the side, it seemed less messy) of each doughnut and squirt in some jam. You'll quickly get the hang of how much to inject!

And enjoy! If you plan to Americanize them, these doughnuts are rather tasty with a cup of coffee at breakfast time. If you end up with an absurd amount of them like I did, I recommend taking them to families on your street who have small children. I was very popular that day!

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