Thoughts of our sinfully delicious Steel Magnolia-themed dinner were still hovering in the recesses of my subconscious. I was not done frying yet! As I scrolled down the usual Facebook news feed, nursing my first cup of coffee on an empty stomach, my eyes naturally gravitated towards an article about how the fried chicken and donuts at Federal Donuts in Philadelphia have been generating so much buzz in the foodie world that it’s giving the comfort food staple of chicken and waffles a run for its money. Now most people would just hit up Yelp and try to find a local place that serves their clone version of this trendsetting dish. However, being the culinary geek that I am, I headed straight for my freezer and pulled out some donut dough to thaw. “What?!? Who the hell keeps donut dough in the freezer?” you may ask. I am not ashamed to admit (to quote a chef friend of mine) that I’m a card-carrying “Dough Ho.” My freezer is stocked with all kinds of carbs and gluten-laden products (e.g. pizza dough, donut dough, pie dough, and for a time croissant dough) because I never know when inspiration will hit me, though it’s safe to say it’s usually when I’m surfing the internet or watching the Cooking Channel on an empty stomach.
Now I know Federal only makes cake donuts to go with their impossibly crispy fried chicken, but I like raised donuts…besides I’m impatient and didn’t feel like making a whole other batch of cake donuts from scratch when I had some handy-dandy yeast dough in the freezer. The dough recipe is a very basic one out of Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book, which I then tweaked for my own purposes. It’s a nice soft dough and very easy to handle. On a side note, while I love using my 6 qt. Kitchen Aid stand mixer for most things, I prefer using my Cuisinart food processor (fitted with a dough blade) when I want to make a quick yeast dough. It’s faster, cleaner, and more efficient.
Raised Donut Dough (adapted from The Breakfast Book)
Yield: 3 dozen sliders (or 2 dozen regular donut rings)
1/3 cup Warm Whole Milk
1 package or 2 1/4 tsp. Dry Active Yeast
1 cup Water
1/2 stick Butter
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1-3/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow it to dissolve (about 5 mins). Meanwhile, heat the water until it’s just about to boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the butter and sugar. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature before whisking in eggs, vanilla, and the dissolved yeast. Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. In a mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a food processor fitted with a plastic dough blade, mix together the wet ingredients with about half of the flour until incorporated. Then, mix in the remaining flour until you’ve got a smooth, elastic dough. *If using a food processor, pulse the dough at 5 second intervals. If you have neither a stand mixer or food processor at your disposal, don’t worry. You can mix the dough by hand. In a large mixing bowl, just stir together the wet ingredients with about half of the dry until fully incorporated, then mix in the remaining flour until you have a manageable dough. Finish the dough by kneading it on a floured surface until it becomes smooth and elastic. Turn the dough out into a large greased bowl (big enough to allow the dough to double in size). Spray the surface of the dough with a little non-stick cooking spray, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough proof in a warm, draft-free space until double in bulk (about 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.) At this point, you can either roll and cut out all the dough, or split the dough in half and freeze part of it for later use. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2″ thick, then cut into your desired size and shape (I did both rings and sliders). Transfer the cut pieces onto a greased, parchment-lined sheet pan and allow them to proof to double their size.
Heat the frying oil to 365F and carefully lower three to four pieces (depending on size) of dough into the oil at a time. As with the fried chicken, fry in batches and don’t overcrowd the pan! I like to use two long chopsticks to flip the donuts halfway through the frying. Drain the golden brown donuts on a wire rack. If you’re going to toss them in a granulated sugar mixture (e.g. cinnamon sugar), do it while the donuts are still warm. If you want to glaze them, allow the donuts to cool completely before glazing, otherwise the glaze will just run off the donuts (SO not pretty). Speaking of donut glaze, this time I made a Maple Bourbon Glaze (emphasis on the bourbon) to compliment the fried chicken. It’s a pretty killer combo of maple syrup, maple and vanilla extracts, rendered bacon fat (yeah, I keep a jar of that in my fridge, too), powdered sugar and….Bulleit Bourbon!
Maple Bourbon Glaze
2-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
3 Tbsp. Rendered Bacon Fat (melted)
2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Maple Extract
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp. Kosher or Sea Salt
1/4 cup Bourbon (preferably Bulleit)
Whisk together the ingredients until smooth.
Since I’ve already provided the recipe for fried chicken in the previous post, I won’t repeat myself. The only thing I did differently this time around is use boneless, skinless chicken thighs and cut them into small slider-friendly size pieces before coating and frying.
Okay, now I think I’ve satisfed (for the time being) my urge to fry and am ready to move on to something else. Where to next week??? Hmmm….we’re feeling nostalgic. There’s music in the air…sweeping up the crisp Austrian Alps. Edelweiss anyone?