I'm finally feeling semi Christmassy. And if semi Christmassy means very stressed and a little Christmassy, then i'm feeling that too. So I took all the very stressed and semi Christmassy I am feeling, and I jammed it all into these doughnuts. It was a great idea if you ask me - doughnuts are the ultimate comfort food in my book. They sound daunting to make but are really very satisfying - I love watching them puff up in the oil as they fry. I happily spent an afternoon ignoring adulting, and whipping these wee guys up, and they turned out far too good to just keep the recipe to myself.
I wanted to have some warming christmas spice in there, to keep it extra holiday-ish, so I adapted my favourite brioche dough (it's amazing in scrolls, burger buns, babka, and now turns out it can be fried!), and added a little ground ginger and molasses. I then filled them with a brown sugar spiced diplomat cream - which is really just a fancy name for pastry cream / custard which has been folded through whipped cream. I spiced the pastry cream with the regular suspects - cinnamon, allspice and a little ginger to help carry the flavour through. Once it was folded in with the whipped cream, it made for a beautiful filling - not too sweet, and lovely and light against the fluffy doughnut. (My friend said that she though that it was 'refreshing' which I though was a nice way of putting it!)
I'm not going to tell you what to do - but I think you should make these for your christmas gathering. The dough can be prepared ahead of time - you can give it its first rise in the fridge overnight, and the filling can be made in advance too. They are the perfect wee twist on a regular filled doughnut - just enough spice to make you think of the holidays, but also a welcome change to all of the cookies and desserts you are likely to encounter. Plus. Doughnuts.
A few wee tips:
- A thermometer is going to be your friend here, as it is very important to keep the oil at a specific temperature. Too cold and the doughnuts will soak up oil, too hot and the outsides will cook before the inside does, and you will have a gooey mess. (if you don't have a thermometer and a set of scales, then I suggest you self-gift ASAP this holiday season, both are game changers)
- Along the same lines of specific oil temperature, cast iron is great to fry in because it maintains heat very well.
- The Dough can be made the night before you want to make these, and given its first rest in the fridge. Just increase the second rise a little once you have cut them out to allow the dough to warm up.
- Pastry cream can be made ahead too, but I suggest, if possible, folding through the whipped cream the day you are planning on using it. You may have a little diplomat cream left over, but it is awesome on fruit / desserts / straight out of the piping bag into your mouth.
- I measure the amount of pastry cream I have, then use 2/3 that amount (multiply the amount of pastry cream by 0.66) of cream, hence the 'approximately' in the method - you will need to do some quick maths to work it out when the time comes.
Gingerbread Brioche Doughnuts with Spiced Brown Sugar Diplomat Cream
- Makes 14-16 doughnuts -
Spiced Brown Sugar Diplomat Cream
100g egg yolks (about 8 yolks)
30g corn starch
412g whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla paste, or the scrapings from one vanilla bean
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
20g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Approximately 300g heavy cream
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup (240ml) whole milk, lukewarm
3 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
3 3/4 cups (565g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbsp unsulphered molasses
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Neutral Oil, for frying (about 4-6 cups)
Granulated sugar for tossing doughnuts
- PROCESS -
In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornflour.
In a medium pot, warm the milk, vanilla paste and spices until there is movement just around the edges of the milk - do not bring it to the boil.
Remove the milk from the heat, and, whisking constantly, add half of the milk mixture into the egg and cornflour mixture to temper the egg yolks. Whisk briskly for 30 seconds. Transfer the milk-yolk mixture back to the pot, and return to a medium heat. Whisk constantly until very thick.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, mixing well until totally combined. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Strain the pastry cream through a mesh sieve, and into a bowl. Cool to room temperature then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream to prevent a skin. Place in the fridge until completely cooled.
When you are ready to fill the doughnuts, weigh the amount of pastry cream that you have - it should be around 450g (see notes). Whip 300g cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold through the pastry cream until well combined. Store in the fridge if not using immediately.
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, milk and 1 Tbsp of the brown sugar. Mix well, and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and remaining 2 Tbsp brown sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the eggs, molasses, vanilla, and foamy yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until the dough is starting to come together. It may look slightly dry but do not worry - it will mix together nicely in the next steps. Increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for another 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and smooth.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next piece. This process should take 3-4 minutes. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes, until the dough is very soft and smooth.
Transfer to an oiled bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until doubled in size, approximately 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Roll into a circle that is about 2cm thick (3/4 inch). Leave to sit for 5 minutes to allow the dough to relax.
Cut out circle shapes using a cookie cutter approximately 2.5 inches (6cm) in diameter. Place the cut doughnuts on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Leave the doughnuts to proof for a further 20 minutes. When you poke them lightly with your finger, it should leave a small indentation that springs back.
While the doughnuts are proofing, heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot (cast iron works great). Heat the oil to 175-180˚c / 340-350˚f. Fill a shallow bowl with sugar for tossing the doughnuts.
Once the oil has come to temperature, test it with a few scraps of dough. Gently lower the doughnuts, two at a time, into the hot oil. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and place on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 seconds before tossing in the sugar. Repeat the process with the rest of the doughnuts. Once the doughnuts are cool, poke a hole in them using a chopstick, and widen the hole using your finger.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip with the diplomat cream. Carefully fill the cavity of the doughnut with the diplomat cream as full as the doughnut will allow you - you can usually feel when they are full as they suddenly feel heavier. When you pull away the piping bag, a little of the pastry cream should ooze out.
Serve immediately. Leftover doughnuts can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge - bring to room temperature before serving, and sprinkle with a little fresh granulated sugar.