The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up.
Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious. The recipes we were given can be found here.
I worked from the yeast doughnuts recipe we were given.
1.5 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
4.5 teaspoon active dry yeast (I have a jar, but this is about 2 pkgs. if you don't)
1/3 cup warm water (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
1⁄4 cup sugar (plus extra to roll them in)
1.5 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
4 2/3 cup flour
oil for frying (I used corn oil) amount depends on size of vessel you are frying in – the original recipe said you need 3 in, I used 1 and was fine.
Heat the milk until it is warm enough to melt the butter. Combine the milk and butter in a large bowl. While it is cooling to lukewarm, mix the yeast and warm water in a small bowl and let it sit for 5 min or so that it gets thick and foamy. Once the yeast mixture is foamy and the milk has cooled enough that it won't kill the yeast, mix the yeast, sugar, eggs, salt and cinnamon into the milk and butter. Add half the flour and mix well. Add the remaining flour, mix well, and then kneed the dough until it is smooth and not very sticky. If you live in a humid place (like I do), you may have to work more flour in as you kneed in order to get it non-sticky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl that is large enough for it to more than double, cover with a towel and let it rise for an hour or so. For me it had well more than doubled at that point - I was glad I had ended up with it in my largest bowl. Roll it out to 3/8 in thick on a well floured surface and cut out the doughnuts. The hole cut out of the center actually seems to help it cook more evenly with this recipe, so I would either make them quite small or find something to cut holes with. As you cut them out, place them on cookie sheets or the like so that you can take them close to where you will be frying them. Let them rise for another 30 min or so.
Heat the oil to 365 F (I used my 6 qt soup pot). My stove is terrible at maintaining constant temperatures, and I found that it worked reasonably well anywhere between 360 and 370. Any cooler and they had to stay in long enough that they started soaking up the oil (yech), much hotter and it was hard not to burn them. There were several times I had to take the oil off the heat and let it cool down for a bit before continuing. At any rate, you gently pick up the doughnut and set it in the oil. When the bottom is golden, flip it and cook until the whole thing is golden (this takes about 30 sec per side if the oil is a good temperature - long enough that you can keep it from burning, fast enough that it doesn't end up greasy). I set them on paper towels as they came out. Once they were cool enough to handle I dipped them in granulated sugar. Ideally you should let them cool a little more so you don't burn your tongue, but they are best warm :-)