Get in the ring
Claire Ptak’s doughnut dough recipes
During my book tour of the US last autumn, my assistant and I joked about an alternate Instagram universe – would-be posts from less-savoury things behind the scenes ...
Post one: I’m flying alone, London to New York whilst six months’ pregnant. Got an extremely heavy carry-on suitcase full of chef’s knives, so making friends with the people on my aisle! (cocktail and aeroplane emoji).
Post two: Interviews and appearances from 6am-11pm today! Fainted in the restaurant this evening and was taken to A&E by the nicest ambulance driver! (ambulance emoji).
Post three: Severe dehydration all sorted with two IVs of saline and one of potassium! Magnesium is delicious! (orange emoji).
Joking aside, we discovered much incredible baking on the tour. So I am highlighting two recipes that use a single dough. I love a plain doughnut with chocolate glaze but there is always so much dough left over (I’m not a fan of re-forming and re-rolling the scraps because the dough shrinks too much and gets a little tough). Inspired by the twisted chocolate and cinnamon Jewish babka breads we saw all over New York, it’s a great way to use up all the scraps in a loaf where the second rolling would go undetected. Both recipes require a bit of time, but are rich and chocolatey and great fun to make (doughnut emoji).
Chocolate ganache glazed doughnuts (on the cover)
You will need a deep-fat fryer or a Dutch oven for this recipe, as well as a 9cm and a 3cm round pastry cutter. This recipe makes enough dough for 6 large doughnuts with scraps to make the babka, below.
Makes 6 For the dough
7g dried yeast (one sachet) 50g caster sugar 120ml water, warm from the tap 500g strong white flour 2 tsp fine sea salt 3 large eggs 125g butter
For the chocolate ganache glaze
150g dark chocolate (70%) 100g double cream 50g sour cream or creme fraiche 100ml water 2 tbsp caster sugar 1 tbsp vanilla extract ½ tsp fine sea salt Chocolate sprinkles and cocoa nibs (optional) 1 litre vegetable oil for frying
1 First, make the dough. Cut the butter into 1cm pieces.
2 In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm tap water. Add the flour and salt, and mix to form a dough. Add the eggs one by one, and beat for about 10 minutes. Add pieces of butter one by one, until fully incorporated into the dough (about 10 more minutes). Cover the bowl loosely with clingfilm, and leave to rise until doubled in size (about 2 hours). Punch the dough down in the middle with a fist to knock out some of the air. Re-cover with clingfilm and chill overnight.
3 When ready to make your doughnuts, use a dough scraper or spatula to remove the chilled dough from the bowl, and turn out on to a liberally floured surface. Sprinkle the dough with more flour, and roll out into a 1.5cm thick square.
4 Use a 9cm round cutter to cut 6 rounds, and then use the 3cm cutter to cut holes out of the centre of each round to make a doughnut. Reserve the scraps for the babka recipe below.
5 Carefully place the doughnuts on to floured baking trays, leaving plenty of room for them to rise. Leave to rise 45 minutes before frying.
6 Line a baking sheet with kitchen paper and set aside. Also have a wire rack placed over a baking tray lined with paper to catch the drips, ready for your glazed doughnuts.
7 Make your glaze. Take 100g of chocolate and chop into small pieces, then transfer to a small bowl. Heat the double cream in a small saucepan until just below the boil. You know it is at the right point when it starts to foam and steam. Watch that it doesn’t boil over. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 10 minutes to melt, and then stir until smooth – this is the ganache mixture.
8 Wash out the saucepan used to heat the cream, and add the remaining 50g
of chocolate, sour cream or creme fraiche, water, caster sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Heat over a mediumlow flame, whisking periodically until all the ingredients have melted. Turn up to medium-high, and cook for 5 minutes more, to thicken the sauce slightly. Remove from the heat and whisk together with the chocolate ganache mixture to form your glaze.
9 Leave in a warm place away from drafts until ready to use. If your glaze gets too cold and thick, you can place it over a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to melt it again.
10 Use a clean pastry brush to dust off as much flour as possible from the doughnuts before frying them.
11 Heat a deep pot of vegetable oil or your deep fryer to 180C/350F, and carefully lower the doughnuts into the hot oil. Fry for 5 minutes on one side then flip over and finish frying on the other side (roughly 2 more minutes). Lift the doughnuts out of the hot oil with a spider or slotted spoon, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
12 While your doughnuts are still warm, dip them one by one with your hands into your melted chocolate glaze. I like to fully immerse them on both sides so they are completely covered wiht the glaze.
13 Set the glazed doughnuts on the prepared wire rack. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs or chocolate sprinkles, if you like.
Halfway between a challah bread and a cake, the babka is quintessential New York fare.
Makes 1 loaf
½ the quantity of doughnut dough (see recipe above; or dough scraps from making doughnuts)
For the filling
80g hazelnuts 80g butter 100g brown sugar 100g dark chocolate (70%) 30g cocoa powder ¼ tsp fine sea salt
For the syrupy soak
80g caster sugar 100g water 2 tbsp honey A pinch of salt 1 tbsp Amaretto
1 Butter and line a large loaf tin, approximately 13x25cm.
2 To make the filling, toast the hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 5-7 minutes until golden. Chop finely and set aside.
3 Measure the butter, brown sugar, chocolate and cocoa powder into a saucepan. Cook over a medium heat, whisking continuously until melted.
4 On a lightly floured surface, push the doughnut scraps together into a ball and re-roll them out into a square roughly 30x30cm. Spread with the chocolate mixture, and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and salt. Roll the dough up into a log, then using a sharp knife, divide the log in half lengthwise, revealing the chocolate centre.
5 Carefully twist the two log halves around each other in a rope-like fashion. You might lose some of the filling here, but don’t worry. Carefully lift the rope of dough into your prepared baking tin, tucking the ends underneath.
6 Cover loosely with clingfilm, and leave to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas mark 4.
7 Meanwhile make the syrup. Boil together all of the ingredients, and set aside.
8 Bake the babka for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and pour the syrup over the piping hot loaf. It is a lot of syrup, but don’t worry, the babka will take it.
9 Cool completely before removing from the tin and serving.