There's something scary about a vat of hot oil bubbling away on the stove top. I'm also not a fan of having my house smell like a greasy fastfood joint. Both of these are strong arguments of why I never attempted deep frying until today.
The recipe for the upcoming BAKED Sunday Mornings is Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts. I already passed on the last two for one reason or another so I'm itching to get back despite my reluctance to deep fry. In my ongoing quest for optimization, obviously I have to make the most out of this occasion. Making yeast doughnuts for a side by side comparison with those buttermilk cake doughnuts seems logical enough.
If you follow my blog, you probably already noticed that I've been cooking and baking many of Melissa Clark's recipes lately. It's no coincidence. I really admire her writing style and I've been devouring In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite like a novel. Her recipe for Double Ginger Doughnuts is just what I'm looking for as the yeast candidate in this Battle of the Doughnuts.
I like the use of freshly grated and ground ginger in the dough. The dough itself is barely sweetened with only 2 tablespoons of sugar. The sweetness comes from the ginger sugar coating which I enjoyed so much in stollen. I have my feet firmly planted in the cake doughnut camp myself mainly because all my prefer flavours are only available in cake doughnut at the local doughnut shops. When I took a bite of these ginger doughnuts minutes out of the fryer, I finally understood why people would use the word ethereal. They are so light and airy with a thin crunchy outside. It's really like biting into a little sweet yeasty pillow. For a first timer, I think my deep frying skill was decent due to obsessive control over the oil temperature. None of the doughnuts turned out greasy at all (that would be a sign of oil being too cold).
I mostly followed the recipe as written except for a minor glitch. My trusty standmixer has never been good with yeast doughs and did not get along with this firmer dough. I decided to knead it by hand which was in fact a lot of fun. The dough did not stick to my hands nor my rollpat even without dusting of flour. Sure, it was messy when I tried to work in the beurre noisette (another change I made) by the spoonful but it all worked out in the end. The recipe called for shaping the dough into logs though I made them into twists because they look more aesthetically pleasing. The shaped and fermented dough stuck just a bit to the wax paper lining but it was no big deal to pry them carefully before dropping into the fryer.
My deep frying set up is pretty simple. I bought a litre of Lion & Globe Peanut Oil (that's the peanut oil I grew up with, absolutely delicious peanut aroma) from my local asian grocer. I originally wanted to use my Le Creuset 5qt dutch oven but upon some measuring, its wide base requires a lot more than a litre of oil to be deep enough for frying. Instead, I used a 2qt heavy bottom stainless steel saucepan. It is wide enough to fry three doughnuts at the same time. Digital thermometer played a key role to help me control the oil temperature, especially in between batches. A pair of tongs easily accomplished the task of flipping and fishing out the cooked doughnuts. As for the dreaded greasy smell? I closed all the room doors, opened a crack in the patio sliding door (it was -10C outside so not the smartest idea), and kept the exhaust fan on full blast for the entire duration. You would not mistake my house for a greasy spoon.
At long last, I conquered my fear of (deep) frying. Come back this Sunday for round 2 of Battle Doughnut!