I became obsessed with making yeasted doughnuts during my last few months of living in Shanghai.
Finding the perfect recipe, the best method, fillings, glazes, sugars, the best way to prove the dough, the right oil, the right temperature to fry them...
The first batch of brioche doughnuts I made were a complete disaster (although I was very proud of them at the time and they were totally edible). I can't remember exactly what I did wrong, but I think it might've had something to do with laminating the dough with butter instead of incorporating it, resulting in an almost perfect version of the hybrid doughnut and croissant mashup known as a doughssant.
Nevertheless, through a lot of practice and patience, as well as feeding people a lot of doughnuts, I eventually got to a place where I knew what I was doing.
Cinnamon Sugar Brioche Doughnuts
If you're new to making doughnuts then this recipe is pretty easy, but you're going to need a thermometer to manage the temperature of your oil - being a few degrees out can be the difference between an okay and an amazing doughnut.
These can be made in a stand mixer but I've listed the manual instructions for those who don't have one. If you do have one, you'll figure it out! If you want to make the dough a day ahead, you can do so and leave it to prove overnight the fridge.
- 1 cup milk, lukewarm
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2.5 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2.5 cups white bread flour
- extra flour for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 90g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1-litre sunflower oil
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 1/4 cup cinnamon
- Combine the yeast, milk and sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Place in a warm place and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes until foamy.
- Add the honey, vanilla extract and the eggs to the foamy yeast mixture and mix to combine.
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Make a well in the centre and pour the eggy yeast mixture into it.
- Using a wooden spoon, combine the mixture until you get a shaggy dough. Tip the bowl out on to a clean surface and continue combining with your hands, gently kneading for around 3 minutes. Don’t stress if it looks on the dry side.
- Continue kneading until the dough becomes soft and smooth. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Begin adding bits of the soft butter into the dough a little at a time, waiting until it’s incorporated before you add more. Be patient, this does take a bit of effort.
- Once the butter is fully incorporated, knead for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is super soft and smooth.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place to rise until it's doubled in size. This generally takes around 1 to 1.5 hours.
- If you’re making the dough the day ahead, place it in the fridge instead.
- Make the cinnamon sugar in the meantime by combining the castor sugar and cinnamon. Cover and set aside until you need it.
When you’re ready to roll and cut your doughnuts, line two baking trays and set aside. Place the dough on to a well-floured surface.
- Dip your cutter into flour and begin cutting your doughnuts. Place each one on a baking tray while you gather your dough together, re-roll and cut. Make sure there’s enough space between each one because they are going to rise more. I find you can only really do this up to 2 times and then you're better off making doughnut holes with any excess dough. If the dough gets too warm then just pop in the fridge for a few minutes to cool down.
- Allow the doughnuts to rise or a further 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how cold your dough is. You will know they are ready when you gently poke them with the tip of your finger - if it leaves an indent but springs back then you’re good to go.
- While the doughnuts are finishing their second prove, set up your frying station.
- Pour the sunflower oil into a large heavy-based pot (I always use my Le Creuset), insert the thermometer and gently heat the oil until it’s 180°c. This does take about 20 minutes but keep an eye on it! Also please keep any small kids away from the stove because hot oil is extremely dangerous.
- Place a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with an absorbent towel.
- Place the sugar in a shallow bowl.
When the oil is ready to test it with a few small scraps of dough. If they darken too quickly then the oil is too hot, and if they float and don’t really do much then the oil is too cold. Keep an eye on that thermometer and adjust the heat of the stove if you need to.
- Carefully and gently lower the doughnuts, two or three at a time, into the hot oil. Cook for 2.5 on one side and then flip to cook for a further 2.5 minutes. I always use the timer on my phone to assist with this.
- Being very careful, remove the doughnuts from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. Allow them to cool enough to handle while you continue frying the rest of the doughnuts.
- To fry the doughnut holes, gently place batches of around 4 to 5 into the oil and cook for 4 minutes, flipping frequently.
- Working in batches between frying doughnuts, roll the warm doughnuts in the cinnamon sugar and set aside.
- Doughnuts are best eaten on the day they are made. If you do have leftovers, they make incredible French Toast!
Rolling and cutting doughnuts with cool dough is a lot easier, so I highly recommend making the dough the day before and proving in the fridge overnight.