DOUGHNUTS WITH VANILLA ORANGE CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

  There’s nothing quite like a fresh, warm doughnut.  With their golden skin and sugar-dusted tops; their daintiness cannot be matched.  Even more so when they’re filled with a scrumptiously smooth crème pâtissière, with its subtle hint of vanilla bean flavor and tangy zest from a plump mandarin orange.  Just writing about it and looking through the photos has me wanting to make a dozen of them again and it’s only been three days since the last one was devoured.  Is it acceptable to fry doughnuts twice in one week?  Considering the gross amount of ingredients I went through to get this recipe working, it’s probably not such a bright idea when I put my cravings aside and face reality.

  Writing recipes and testing their outcome can be quite the beast sometimes.  It’s definitely not easy, but it is fun to learn.  Yes, even when the majority of the tests are failures over success.  I remember when I first began baking, I was afraid to bake something using my own formula.  I  couldn’t see myself baking from scratch and having it turn out edible(low self-esteem much?).  Recipe writing, I thought, was something you had to have a special brain cell for, much like how some can draw a cat but others just draw a stick figure(that’s so not me).  It is silly, I know, but I have my naive, fifteen-year-old self to thank for that.  My current nineteen-year-old self would love to go back to that {extremely} naive fifteen-year-old and explain to her just how you don’t need a special brain to do anything.  You’re fully capable of anything with the brain you have as long as you have the drive and determination to do it.  All it takes is stepping out of the wall you safely sit behind, even when it looks scary.  I still have much to learn on the basis of baking, but I am thankful I’m much more confident in what I do.  There’s so much freedom when you regain your confidence in something.

  I was so relieved when they turned out, it was my third try in one day.  I threw so much dough away as it was unusable; I really wanted to hit myself(I absolutely despise food waste of any kind).  I already have a few doughnut recipes on this blog, but these ones have to be the best I’ve come up with so far.  They rose so beautifully and each doughnut had the “proof line” when I removed them from the hot oil.  I’ve tried many times to get that line around the centers of my doughnuts, it’s taken a year or so of revising my own recipe to do so.  If I seem overly excited about this recipe, this is why.  Call me peculiar, if you may.  Alas, they’re still not as quintessential as your favorite bakery doughnut, but I feel I am getting pretty close to it.


DOUGHNUTS WITH VANILLA ORANGE CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE

makes 12 doughnuts

doughnuts:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup water, hot(110 – 115°F)

2 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast

3 tablespoons whole milk, warm

1 whole egg, room temperature

1 egg yolk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

vegetable oil for frying(about 5 cups)

powdered sugar for dusting

 

crème pâtissière:

1 cup whole milk

1/2 of a vanilla bean

1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon unbleached cake flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

METHOD:

for the doughnuts 

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.  Add the whole egg and egg yolk together and slightly whisk with a fork, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric standing mixer/KitchenAid with a dough hook attached, add the hot water and sprinkle in the yeast, slightly whisk the two together then add the whisked egg yolks and turn the mixer on low to mix until just combined.  Add the flour and 3 tablespoons of warm milk and turn the mixer on low.  Mix the ingredients together until a firm but moist dough forms, this will only take a few minutes.  It’s done when the dough wipes clean the sides and bottom of the bowl.  If the dough happens to be too dry, add a tablespoon(or more) of warm water until it comes together.  Turn the mixer on medium speed and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Before adding each new tablespoon, be sure the previous tablespoon has been fully incorporated.  Stop the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed.  The dough should be smooth, shiny, and elastic with a slight stickiness to the touch.  Lightly butter a large bowl and place the dough inside.  Let the dough rise, covered with a thin cloth, in a warm, dry place until doubled in size; 50 minutes to an hour.  Once risen, punch down with your fist.  
  3. Lightly flour a large, flat surface and divide the dough into two halves.  Roll the first half out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut out rounds with a glass cup or a large cookie cutter.  Cut out as many rounds as possible and place them two inches apart on a large baking sheet covered with a thin, non-terry cloth towel, just lightly dusted with flour.  Cover the doughnuts with a thin cloth and let them rise in a warm, dry place for 35-50 minutes.  While the doughnuts are rising, you can begin making the custard.
  4. Once the doughnuts have risen, uncover and let them “dry out” until the oil is ready.  Place the oil in a large pot/fryer until it is a few inches deep, the oil should be heated to 375°F.  Once heated, add two doughnuts at a time and fry 50-60 seconds on each side, until they are a medium golden color.  Place them on cooling racks with towels underneath to catch the grease drippings.  Repeat this process until all the doughnuts have been fried.  Cool them completely before filling with custard.
  5. When the doughnuts have cooled completely, poke a hole through the side of the doughnuts and pipe in the custard until they’re filled.  Dust with powdered sugar.

crème pâtissière:

  1. Line a rectangular pan(that has edges)with plastic wrap and set aside.  
  2. Cut a vanilla bean in half and split it open; scrape out the seeds and set them both aside(the pod and seeds).  Reserve three tablespoons of the milk in a bowl and add the remaining milk to a medium-sized saucepan along with the butter, 2 tablespoon sugar, orange zest, and vanilla bean pod with the seeds.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from heat to steep for five minutes.  Remove the vanilla bean pod(and zest, if wanted).  Bring the milk back to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and remaining sugar in a small bowl.  Place the egg yolks in a large bowl, add the flour mixture and the three tablespoons of milk and whisk until combined.  Remove the simmering milk from the heat and stream half of it into the egg mixture while whisking.  Pour this egg mixture back into the remaining milk and continue to whisk over medium heat.  Once you start to feel the mixture begin to thicken, remove from heat and whisk constantly until you have a thick, smooth custard.  Return custard to medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture begins to boil and cook for one minute(this is to cook the starch flavor out).  Immediately pour the custard into the prepared pan and evenly spread around.  Cover with another layer of plastic, making sure that it sticks to the custard(this is so it will not form a skin).  Place in the freezer until completely cool, this may take 15-20 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies with Blackberry Coconut Mascarpone Cheese filling

  I know it’s only August, and yes, I’m totally not ready to accept that fall begins next month, but I really wanted ginger cookies.  Who’s to say they’re just for fall or winter?  So I made some.. and in them went three ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped into fine chunks, of course; then sandwiched together with a purple Italian cream cheese filling.  Sounds amazing right?  Believe me, it is.  Earlier this year I made something similar with Meyer lemons and they were utterly delicious.  I haven’t really done much with blackberries so far, so I thought I’d make the cookies again, upgraded, and this time with a different filling.   I really love the combination of blackberry and coconut, add it to mascarpone cheese and it’s something close to heaven!

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  I always get excited when I pull these cookies out of the oven.  The crackled tops are almost always on point.  To me, how a cookie top looks matters immensely, especially photographically.  If a cookie does not have my desired look, I will continue to tweak the recipe and bake a thousand of said cookies till I get there.  There was much trial and error in perfecting this recipe when I first came up with it.  Now I can happily use the recipe with one hundred percent confidence that it will turn out just as I envisioned, and not just for me, but for other’s as well.

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  On a completely random note, I’ve been jumping back and forth with photography style these past few weeks.  I’m deeply inclined to dark, sharp, and shadowy tones; but I also love bright and clean, especially when it comes to food.  So, I’m still working on finding “my style”.  I’m hoping someday it will fall between the two I admire most and be somewhat unique in its own way.  Until then, I shall keep on playing with light and technique.  I fail miserably a lot of times, but that’s okay; it is a never ending journey trying to improve oneself.

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Blackberry Coconut Mascarpone Cheese Filling

8-ounce plain mascarpone cheese, room temp.

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup large blackberries

1/2 cup shredded coconut.

pinch of salt

METHOD

Be sure to bring all the ingredients to room temperature before using, mascarpone is prone to curdle easily. 

In a small saucepan, mash the 1/4 of large blackberries and place on the stovetop over low heat.  Simmer the berries till more of the juices are released, about 3 minutes.  Pour the berries into a sieve and press out the juices, take out 2 tablespoons and set aside so it can come to room temperature.  Set aside 2 tablespoons of the pulp as well, and bring it to room temperature before using.  

Once all the ingredients have come to room temperature, place the cheese in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer(on high speed)till creamy.  Slowly add the blackberry juice, pulp, pinch of salt, and powdered sugar.  Beat till incorporated.  Stir in the shredded coconut.  Place in the refrigerator till ready to use. 

 

Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies

makes about 22 cookies / 11 sandwich cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temp.

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup molasses

1 large egg, room temp.

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

With an electric standing mixer with whisk(s) attached, beat the butter and sugar till creamy and light, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the molasses and beat till combined, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the eggs and beat till completely incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl again and add 1/3 of the flour and half of the chopped chocolate, beat till just incorporated.  Scrape, then add the other 2/3 of flour and beat till there’s no dry flour left to be seen.  Pour 1/3 cup of sugar onto a plate and set aside.  Take out pieces of the dough and roll it into a 1-inch ball, do not roll the balls till their surface is smooth, I roughly roll it into a ball.  Roll the ball around in the sugar that was set aside, just coat it lightly.  Place on prepared baking sheet till there is no more room, place them about 2 inches apart from each other.  Bake in preheated oven for 13 minutes.  Once done, remove from oven and let them rest on the pan for five minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Once all the cookies have cooled completely and come to room temperature add the cream filling by using a pastry bag with a large round tip attached.  Take one cookie and pipe on about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream.  Sandwich together with another cookie.  Enjoy!  I recommend refrigerating the cookies when not being eaten. 

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Meyer Lemon Cream Filled Ginger Cookies

   I know it’s already been a week since the new year started but, Happy New Year a little late!  I was off of here for a couple weeks enjoying time with all my family, but I’m back now!

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  Since it’s officially citrus season, I’m probably going to start bombarding you with all things orangy-lemony-grapefruity on here, so sit tight!  I’m starting it off with these ginger cookies that are filled with a lemon cream filling.

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They’re super easy and don’t take up a lot of time in the day.  Also, the lemon cream is like, THE best thing.  I had to stop myself from eating the bowl once or twice…

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Meyer Lemon Cream Filled Ginger Cookies
Yields 20
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
COOKIES
  1. 3/4 cups (1.5 stick) butter, room temperature
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 1/3 cup molasses
  4. 1 large egg, room temperature
  5. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  9. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10. 3/4 teaspoons ground allspice
  11. 1/3 cup sugar, for rolling
LEMON CREAM FILLING
  1. 8 ounces cream cheese
  2. 3 3/4 - 4 cups powdered sugar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from meyer lemons)
  5. 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
COOKIES
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter till creamy. Add the molasses and beat till combined. Add the egg and beat till combined. Scrap down the sides and gradually add flour in 1/3 increments, beating till just combined each addition.
  4. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop the dough out and very slightly roll the piece into a ball(don't roll it smooth, leave some cracks in it) it should be about 1 inch in diameter. Lightly coat the dough balls in sugar and place on the pan, spacing each ball 2 inches apart from each other.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 12-13 minutes. Let them cool on the pan 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
LEMON CREAM FILLING
  1. Beat the cream cheese till smooth, add the lemon juice and beat till combined. Add the powdered sugar and lemon zest and beat well. Transfer into a piping bag with a #12 round tip attached.
ASSEMBLE
  1. Pipe the lemon cream onto the flat side of the cookie, leaving about 1/4 inch of space around the edges. Squish another cookie onto the cream a gently press them together till the cream comes out to the sides(but does't flow out). Repeat till all the cookies are assembled. Let them sit for an hour to let the cream harden.
Special equipment
  1. Piping bag
  2. #12 round tip
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