Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Friday: Chrismukkah

For anyone out there who watched The O.C. in their teenage/early-20s years, Chrismukkah requires no explanation. For those who missed out on Ryan, Marissa and the cutest couple ever (Summer and Seth), Chrismukkah is basically a blend of Judaism's Hanukkah and Christianity's Christmas.

One of the great things eaten over Hanukkah is the jam doughnut. Even though I generally am not a cake/muffin kind of girl, doughnuts and jam doughnuts just KILL me. I love them. And let's be perfectly clear here: when I talk doughnuts, I am not talking that shit you get at Krispy Kreme or Donut King. I am talking warm, just out of the deep fryer and into the cinnamon sugar bowl and into a paper bag kind of doughnut. I am a very out, and very proud doughnut snob.

Bring it on
Jam doughnuts have lots of names - sufganiyot for those hailing from Israel and consumed during Hanukkah, Berliners for those from Germany (I had these home made for me by the daughter of a family friend when I was about 8 years old and it was this moment that got me thoroughly hooked), Paczki in Poland, Pampushky in the Ukraine (eaten these too, also delicious) and in Italy they are adorably called Bombolini. Shall we travel the world and taste them all? I think we should. Bucket list now updated.

So for today's Happy Friday, as I am bound to find myself in the kitchen for much of this weekend cooking for BBQ's we're popping in to, please see the not-so-healthy recipe for jam doughnuts from Smitten Kitchen.

Jam Doughnuts
makes 16 x 2-inch doughnuts

Prep time: 1 hour, 45 mins
Cook time: 10 minutes
Eat time: 2 nanoseconds

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) lukewarm (not hot) milk
2 large egg yolks
Few gratings of orange or lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons (30g) butter softened
2 1/4 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
Vegetable oil for deep-frying, and coating bowl
1/2 to 2/3 cup jam or preserves of your choice
Powdered sugar

Make the dough: In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes; it should become a little foamy. Whisk in yolks, any zest or extracts you’d like to use, then butter. Don’t worry if the butter doesn’t fully combine.
— By hand: Add half of flour and stir with a spoon until combined. Add second half of flour and salt and stir as best as you can with a spoon, then use your hands to knead the dough until it forms a smooth, elastic round, about 5 minutes. Try, if you can, to resist adding extra flour, even if it’s sticky. Extra flour always makes for tougher/dryer doughnuts and breads. Sticky hands and counters are always washable!
— With a stand mixer: Add half the flour and let the dough hook mix it in slowly, on a low speed. Add second half of flour and salt and let the dough hook bring it together into a rough dough. Run machine for 3 to 4 minutes, letting it knead the dough into a smooth, cohesive mass.

Both methods: If the dough is already in the bowl, remove it just long enough to lightly oil the bowl. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the fridge overnight.
On a lightly floured counter, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds; no need to re-roll scraps unless you wish; I like to keep the odd shapes for getting the hang of frying before cooking the final doughnuts. Or, if you’re vehemently against scraps and re-rolling, you can make small square doughnuts, which are surprisingly cute. Let cut dough rise for another 30 minutes, loosely covered with a towel.

Fry the doughnuts: Heat 2 inches of oil to 175°C in a cast-iron frying pan (I like using one because it so delightfully re-seasons them) or heavy pot. Use your dough scraps to practice and get an idea of how quickly the doughnuts will cook. Then add about 4 doughnuts at a time to the oil, cooking on the first side until golden brown underneath, about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip doughnuts and cook on the other side, until it, too, is golden brown underneath, about another minute. Drain doughnuts, then spread them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb extra oil. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Fill with jam: When doughnuts are cool enough to handle, place jam in a piping bag with a round tip with a 1/4- to 1/2-inch opening. You can fill doughnuts from the tops or sides; I did half with each. Press the tip of the jam bag halfway into the doughnut, and squeeze in the jam until it dollops out a little from the hole. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Finish doughnuts: Either generously shower doughnuts with powdered sugar on either side, shaken from a fine-mesh strainer, or roll the doughnuts gently in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Eat at once. Don’t forget to share. 

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