Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts & Pumpkin Puree
I have writer’s block. Or perhaps it’s general frustration. Either way, I’m staring at this damn white screen drowning in perturbation. So please excuse my brevity and lack of discursive, circuitous and generally-word-filled stories. For today, I have nothing eloquent, nothing persuasive and surely nothing noting the idiosyncratic nature of blogging mores.
Instead I have doughnuts – deep fried, filled to the gizzards, drowning in sweet sugary glaze doughnuts.
That’s right. It’s another recipe that goes something like this: Mix and mix and mix and knead. Knead and knead and knead and rise. Wait a bit. Wait some more. Knead a bit and knead some more. Flour the counter. Roll it out. “Where the heck are those damn cookie cutters,” you’ll surely pout. Shape, shape shape. Look at those rings! Now what? That’s right. Just hold tight.
And then you fry them. With a plop and a sizzle – and inevitably a a rouge splash of oil to the skin – and another sizzle – this time your skin – the little rings of dough blossom into perfection. So you dip them in glaze, and while no one is looking eat some glaze. Then you fill them with a creamy custard, and while no one is looking you eat some custard. And then they’re done and you’re left with a plate stacked high with glorious doughnuts, and while no one is looking you eat all the doughnuts.
Now onto the hot topic of fall, pumpkin puree.
Pumpkin puree: Making pumpkin puree at home, from-scratch, is a very easy process. In addition to being quite simple, you get completely control over the flavor – not to mention you know exactly what is going into it. So, please tell me why y’all are still using the canned stuff? Well, lucky for you I’ve made a little cheat sheet. If you don’t plan on using the puree in a dessert, or in a heavily spiced application, you can easily skip the last step and store the puree raw. Pumpkin puree should last a week in the fridge, or quite a bit longer frozen.
One small pie (or sweet) pumpkin will usually yield roughly enough puree for one dessert. This recipe is easily scaled though. I often roast a few at a time so I can have a stash of pumpkin puree nearby.
Now onto a delicious doughnut recipe!
Doughnuts: This is a fairly traditional doughnut dough with a large portion of the moist ingredients replaced with pumpkin puree. I used a spiced pumpkin puree mix (recipe below) to add a little kick to the dough. Making doughnuts is just like making any other yeast dough so pay attention to rising times and temperatures. Frying oil temperature and timing is important also. Don’t be scared though. Making doughnuts is not as hard as it looks.
- 6 ounces whole milk
- 1½ teaspoon active yeast
- 1 ounce maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 12-13 ounces all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces spiced pumpkin puree mix (see the cheat sheet above)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 quarts vegetable oil
- 2 cups Maple Cream Filling (recipe below)
- 10 ounces vanilla lemon glaze (recipe below)
- Heat the milk to the scalding point (about 200°F). Set aside to cool to 110°F. Oil or butter the proofing tub or large bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (105-115°F). Add the maple syrup, egg, flour and pumpkin puree. Mix the dough until thoroughly combined and a dough just begins to form. Let rest in the bowl, covered, for 20 minutes.
- Add the salt to the dough and knead for 7 to 10 minutes until elastic and slightly sticky. If the dough is excessively wet or sticky, add up to 1 ounce more flour. The dough should be slightly sticky to the the touch but still workable.
- To test if a dough has been kneaded enough, stretch out a portion of it. It should stretch and leave a translucent pane in the middle. It shouldn't break quickly or easily.
- Butter the proofing tub or bowl and place the dough in, letting it rise in a warm place until doubled in volume about 1-2 hours.
- If your house is an ice box, preheat the oven at 400°F for 1 minutes - no longer. Turn the oven off after a minute - the inside of the oven should now feel just barely warm. Allow the dough to rise in the warm oven.
- Once doubled in volume, punch down the dough and knead it with your hands for a few seconds. Let the dough rest covered for 20 minutes.
- After resting, roll the dough out until it is about ¼" thick. Using a 2" round cookie cutter, cut out 12 dough disks.
- For standard doughnuts, use a ½" round cookie cutter to cut out the center.
- Let them rise until the volume expands 1.5x, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- In the meantime put the oil in a heavy bottomed pot and heat to 350°F.
- Fry the doughnuts in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until lightly golden brown. Remove the doughnuts to newspaper or paper towels to absorb the oil. Repeat until all of the doughnuts are fried.
- Let the doughnuts cool until comfortable to handle.
- Place the maple custard filling in a piping bag fitted with a long, narrow tip. Insert the tip half way into the side of the donut and lightly squeeze, pulling the tip out slowly. Take care not to overfill the doughnut. If you are making standard ring dougnuts, skip this step and go straight to glazing the doughnuts.
- Dip the doughnuts in warm glaze and remove to a cooling wrap to drip dry.
Pastry Cream: Pastry cream is a marvelous custard-like treat that takes flavors wonderful, can be thickened or thinned to make nearly anything, and it is easy to make. Since cornstarch is used, there is little risk of messing this mixture up – it can be cooked straight on the stovetop with no fear of scrambling the eggs. Be sure to stir constantly to keep the bottom from scorching and the cream from lumping.
- 1 pint milk
- ½ vanilla bean
- , split in ½ lengthwise
- 4 ounces sugar
- 1 ounce cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 ounce butter
- 2 ounces maple syrup
- Pour the milk into the heavy bottomed pot. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the milk and add the pod. Bring to the scalding point.
- In the meantime mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and blend in well.
- Once the milk is scalded, temper the egg mixture. Add everything back to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Once thick and at a boil, cook for a few seconds more, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat. Add the butter and maple syrup. Stir in until the butter is completely melted and the syrup mixed in completely.
- Let cool before using.