Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Buttermilk Donuts

I don't think I can use the old "woops a month has passed" again because it's actually been about 2 months of neglect here on CC. Believe me I have been baking, but it's been quite the busy start to 2011. I marked my 6 month anniversary in San Francisco, graduated from pastry school, drank wine in Napa with visiting family, drove to Los Angeles + back up the coast, took a quick vacation to Mexico with my Aunt + cousin, went oyster shucking, made a micro-blog for my resume + started a job as a pastry assistant at a new restaurant. whewwww, tough life, I know...

So back to the goods. These buttermilk donuts were made around 12 am on a Friday night. A recipe that requires no yeast, no resting time + lots of oil for frying - what could be a more perfect snack for that midnight hunger pain?

This is a great project to take on with helpers. I made these with 2 roommates. After making the dough + cutting the shapes one roommate was in charge of frying the donuts, once they came out of the hot oil I glazed them + set them on the cooling rack. My other roommate was responsible for taking the freshly glazed donuts off the rack + moving them onto a plate to give us more room to work. However, about halfway through our production line we found that no donuts were making it on the final plate as our roommate was instead eating each completed donut. Needless to say, we had an intervention.

Buttermilk Donuts
adapted from the Baked Explorations

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly browned and cooled
Vegetable oil for frying

For the Chocolate Dip
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60-70%), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sprinkles to decorate (optional)

For the Vanilla Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sprinkles to decorate (optional)

For the Cinnamon Sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

Make the doughnuts
Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour,sugar,baking soda,baking powder, salt,nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream until combined. Add the melted,cooled butter and whisk again.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. With a rubber spatula, slowly fold the flour into the liquid center until the mixture forms a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and pat it out until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use two round cutters ( 3 1/4" and 1 1/2" for large doughnuts; 2 1/2" and 1 " for smaller doughnuts). Dip the large cutter in flour and press out the rounds. Dip the smaller cutter in the flour and cut out the center of each dough round. Arrange both doughnuts and doughnut holes on the parchment-lined baking sheet, pat the dough scraps back together, and use them to make as many more doughnuts and doughnut holes as possible. Chill the dough while you heat the oil.

Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to make a layer approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium -high heat until it is 365 to 370 degrees F.

While you are waiting for the oil to reach temperature, make the assorted toppings.

Make the Chocolate Glaze
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium wide-mouthed bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it is just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and wait 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter. Keep the mixture warm.

Make the Vanilla Glaze
In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar, the milk, and the vanilla paste.

Make the Cinnamon Sugar
In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

To Fry the Doughnuts
Once the oil reaches temperature, gently lift the large doughnuts off the baking sheet and place them in the hot oil. Do not crowd the skillet-make no more than 3 doughnuts at a time. Once they have browned on one side (this takes 2-3 minutes), turn them over with tongs or a slotted spoon and continue to cook for another minute or just until browned (they can overcook or burn rather quickly). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel lined baking sheet and continue to fry the rest of the dough until finished. The doughnut holes will cook faster and can be made in two or three batches after the doughnuts are done.

Assemble the Doughnuts
Once you have finished frying, work quickly to dip the doughnuts in the chocolate or vanilla glaze, or the cinnamon sugar. If you like, decorate the chocolate or vanilla doughnuts with sprinkles. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie (Yes, we're still baking)

So, I'm sure a lot of you thought we had dropped off the face of the earth, or at least the Interwebs. Truthfully, we've all been really busy lately, but we shouldn't have neglected baking and blogging for so long. Krissy just graduated from pastry school, Katie's busy with her new job, and I just want to go on a diet.

I picked this pie because Ben's mom bought me a beautiful Emile Henri pie plate for Christmas, and I was dying to use it. And everyone loves an apple pie; I just wanted to make mine with a little flair. This one is definitely a crowd-pleaser, especially if you're looking for a way to spice up your apple pie.

Caramel Apple-Pecan Pie
Adapted from "Pie"

Single pie crust recipe of your choice
10 caramels, each cut into 4 pieces

7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Golden Delicious apples
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Pecan Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Caramel and Garnish
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp water
30 caramels
Large handful of pecan halves or pieces
1/2 chopped pecans

Prepare the single pie crust according to the recipe of your choice. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the pastry into a 13-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan, center, and peel off the paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge. Scatter the caramel pieces in the pie shell and place in the freezer while you make the filling. Preheat the over to 400 degrees.

Combine the apples, brown sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl. Mix well, then set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to juice. Mix the granulated sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the fruit along with the cinnamon and vanilla. Scrape the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the fruit with your hands leaving as little space as possible. (If the fruit mounds over the crust, that's ok because it will bake down). Put the pie on the center oven rack and back for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crumb topping by combining the flour, pecans, granulated sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse several times, copping the nuts coarsely. Scatter the butter over the dry mixture and pulse the machine again until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and rub the mixture between your fingers to make damp, gravelly crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the pie from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Push them down lightly in the apples. Return the pie to oven, placing it so that the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Slide a large aluminum foil-lined sheet onto the rack below to catch any drips (seriously, don't skip this step). Bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edges, 30-40 minutes (mine went for a little longer). If necessary, cover the pie with loosely tented foil for the last 15 minutes to keep the top from getting too dark.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for about 1 hour. While the pie is still warm - approaching the 1 hour mark - prepare the caramel. Combine the butter, water and caramels in the top of a double boiler (I don't have one of these so I just use a glass mixing bowl - works like a charm). Melt the caramels over, not in, barely simmering water. This may take 10 minutes or more. To facilitate the melting, press down on them as they start to soften and melt. When melted, whisk the mixture until is smooth, then drizzle the caramel over the entire surface of the pie. Immediately press the pecan halves into the caramel in a random fashion, then sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top as well. Let cool for another hour before serving.