Ah, donuts. Let me tell you about my love affair with donuts. When I was pregnant, I ate donuts at least once a week - the only time i've let myself go that much - and never tired of them. Once when I was left alone at home for the whole weekend, I bought a dozen donuts and ate them all. Actually, I think that was all I ate. Didn't get sick of them. It would possibly be accurate to say donuts are my favorite food in the whole wide world.
So, imagine my excitement when I actually made them for the first time! (actually, trepidation is more accurate, but it turned into excitement)
But first, the "coffee" - a cappuccino semifreddo. You know how I just waxed poetic about my love affair with donuts? I feel the exact opposite way about coffee-flavored anything. I despise coffee. I can't even stand the Starbucks candyland versions (things like caramel mocha something or the others) - too bitter. I once sent a piece of chocolate cake back at Spago when the waiter swore up and down there was no espresso in it. There was. I could taste it.
So, yeah. Love/hate relationship expected with this dessert. But at least making the semifreddo was easy.
First, a quick custard base - eggs, sugar, vanilla bean, whipped together.
Man, I love my mixer.
I added some coffee extract, then put to chill on ice.
Next I whipped some cream and sugar, and folded that in, followed by whipping egg whites and sugar, and folding that in.
Into a coffee cup and the freezer they went!
I tasted it as a custard (while it was cold, but not frozen). It was... not bad. But not something I was in love with.
Donuts, on the other hand... well, I was looking forward to this. Especially once I realized how EASY it was.
Just knowing how amazing a warm donut is, I decided to make a double batch so I could freeze them. It was a good call, since it gave me an "excuse" to experiment with cooking them prior to the dinner.
First, lets talk about compressed yeast. I didn't know what on earth it was, but I figured it wouldn't be hard to find. I didn't know where to look for it. I asked people in various stores (Vons, Whole Foods, Henrys), no one knew what I was talking about. The day before I was supposed to be preparing the donuts, I turned to the internet. Someone on some chowhound board posted about Stan at NY Bakers - a mail order place that is conveniently located in San Diego. I shot him an email, explained my predicament (namely: I needed it asap, and I knew he only shipped it on such and such days... but could I please pretty please come to his warehouse and get some?). Much to my surprise, he responded quickly, with a 'Sure, how much do you want?' Thanks to Stan, for helping my donut dreams come true.
I carefully weighed the compressed yeast...
Then mixed it in the mixer with some water, then flour, and combined for a while. I sat the spongy mixture to proof (crossing my fingers, since I kill every yeast-based dough)... and came back in a couple of hours to this:
I set this out to proof for another hour. It, too, rose in its bowl.
When the dough was appropriately proofed, I (heavily) floured my counter and went about rolling and cutting. (technical issue: I didn't have cutters that were the correct size, so I just scaled up) And rolling and cutting. Until I had TONS of donuts (some of which went into the freezer, others stayed out for cooking that night).
I had read accounts from numerous people that had issues with the non-stick spray and saran wrap thing for proofing. I read accounts where people had no issue at all. So I decided to try it both ways.
No saran wrap proofing:
Saran wrap proofing:
As you can (kinda) see, the saran wrap ones proofed a lot better. And the wrap came off without any type of issues. Success!
Into the deep fryer they went. My house smelled like fried bread... heavenly.
After cooking, I tossed in cinnamon and sugar.
Don't they look amazing? They were.
The day of the dinner party, I realized that I didn't know how to froth milk in my coffee/espresso maker. In my defense, its not exactly something i've ever done (except the one day in college I worked as a barista at a local coffee shop, then decided it was a terrible idea for someone who HATES coffee to try and make it). Steamed milk.... took a lot of experimenting. But I did it!
As for the pretty donut hole sitting the donut... I don't think that the donuts made it that long. I had a guest meet me in the walk way to get one. Others were gone before I got to the table. They were amazing. And, like I said, really easy. Like easy enough that i'm inspired to go make some (although I need more compressed yeast - I threw mine out in the move). The semifreddo? Eh... it was ok. I took a bite, decided it wasn't for me, gave it to the hubbs. That was ok though... I had more room for donuts!