Expats missing their doughnuts — listen up. You don’t have to travel to a city with Dunkin Donuts franchises on every corner to get a basic doughnut fix. You will, of course, have to do that to get your Boston Creme fix, and I kinda always thought doughnuts are supposed to be fried in oil, and not baked, but as the blogger who opened our eyes to this recipe puts it (and seriously, follow that link — they are beautiful!),
Baked doughnuts are better than no doughnuts.
But you know what? These baked doughnuts are better than anything I’ve had in Germany outside of a Dunkin Donuts. The vanilla flavor in the dough is subtle, but a delcious counterpoint to the yeasty tang, and it will remind, dear North American expatriate, what sweet baked goods are supposed to taste like. If your favorite textural aspect of the doughnut experience is the crispy outer layer, these are not the doughnuts for you. You just won’t get that without deep frying them in oil. If you tend toward inner cakiness however, keep reading.
1/4 cup (53g) granulated sugar
1 cup (237ml) whole milk, heated to 115°F (46.1°C)
1 tablespoon (one 10g packet) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 to 3 1/2 cups (418 to 483) all purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading (we needed all 3 1/2 in our batch)
1/2 cup (1 stick, 110g) butter, cut into 1 inch cubes (presumably cold, right? you can’t cut soft butter into cubes)
1 stick (100ish grams) butter, melted
1 cup (210g) granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon (more or less, depending on your taste), mixed together
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg and sugar on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Add the milk, yeast, salt and vanilla, and stir to blend. With the machine on low speed, add 2 cups of flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, and beat until the dough is thick and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Switch to the dough hook. With the machine on medium speed, add the butter one piece at a time, and beat until no large chunks of butter are left in the bottom of the bowl, 3-5 minutes. We beat ours a lot longer than that, trying to get those butter chunks to integrate mechanically, until I finally gave up and broke them into smaller pieces with the spatula. Then the kneading hook made short of them. Perhaps warmer butter would have made it a little quicker. Reduce speed to low and add the additional flour until the dough gathers around the hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. It will be soft and moist, but not overly sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl.
Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough and roll out to 1/2 inch thick. With a doughnut or a cookie cutter, cut out 3 inch diameter rounds with 1 inch diameter holes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the doughnuts at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 25 minutes.
Bake until the doughnuts are light golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes, being very careful not to over bake them. Immediately out of the oven, dip into butter and then dip directly into cinnamon sugar mixture.
Best eaten fresh and warm, according to the recipe’s sources, but the next day they were still super tasty with a cup of coffee, and my office apparently agreed.