Monday, August 2, 2010

Desperately Desiring Doughnuts

Our neighborhood grocery store has a rack of doughnuts JUST inside the door as you walk in. It’s torture. I know they are probably stale and/or would be a huge disappointment if I caved and brought them home. But that doesn’t stop me from craaaaaving them. So I decided to make them.

But first the story of how the baking bug bit me. It was around 2001, and I somehow came into possession of this book:

I don’t remember many details about the plot, really – the wife of a successful Seattle executive gets dumped and gets a job in a bakery, finds herself, blah, blah, blah. But the way the author described how the character felt when she baked, what baking did for her emotionally, just how she connected with it, all that clicked with me. So I started baking bread. I’ve always enjoyed making desserts of all kinds, but I’d never really experimented with bread. I baked French bread – baguettes and ciabatta mostly. I was doing everything by hand. All of it. Eventually I started having problems with my wrists. Because I caption TV for a living and need my wrists and hands to be at 100%, I finally invested in a KitchenAid mixer. Best. Investment. Ever.

Anyway. An obsession was born. And the pounds slowly creeped up on me. (Hence all the low-glycemic index talk in past blog posts.) I eventually backed off on the bread and lost the weight, but the sight of a big bowl of dough is still a lovely sight to me. I love the smell, I love the texture, I love that first punch of deflation.

Back to doughnuts. I declared to Twitterverse that I was searching for a baked doughnut recipe (I won’t fry anything), and @jackhonky (who has his own fabulously named, entertaining food blog, Eat The Love) forwarded this recipe from @101Cookbooks.

I don’t have big enough cookie cutters, so I improvised and used a Crown Royal glass.

See those pillows of dough?? Just beautiful.

More improvisation.

Doughnut holes!

After a second rise, the holes had disappeared. I can’t say @101CookBooks didn’t warn me.

After nine minutes in a 375° oven, they look more like bagels than doughnuts.

Now the fun part.

So I finally got my doughnuts. (Though only one actually had a hole in it.) Sadly, so sadly, they were overcooked. I was warned about this too. They were good, but honestly, probably not that much better than the ones I could have purchased from the grocery store. But I enjoyed the process, and I know exactly what went into them, something I couldn't say about a store-bought doughnut. I just wish I could have shared them with the neighbors right as they came out of the oven. The majority of my baking is done late at night, and my neighbors are all in bed by the time I usually start baking, so they miss out on the really good stuff. Their kids, however, were thrilled with the box I brought over the next day.

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