Baked Donuts, a Delight for the Holiday Season

There are two “traditional” Hanukkah foods: latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganyot, (donuts, fried dough balls).  This doesn’t really add up to the healthiest food choices.  For our Hanukkah party last weekend I knew I couldn’t skimp out on traditionally made latkes, but donuts…  that I could tweak.  

I scoured the Internet for baked donuts, with ingredients that I had on hand and I lucked out with a recipe from Piece of Cake.  This rules out any recipe that calls for buttermilk powder, shortening, etc.  Which means, you probably have these ingredients too, and because they are baked and not fried you might want to enjoy this less guilty treat after Hanukkah, or Christmas morning.
Baked Donuts Ingredients
For the dough:
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees
1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tbsps of unsalted butter
1/3 white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

So here is the thing, this recipe can look pretty intimidating.  It has yeast, it has a specific measurement for milk, yikes.  But here is the truth.  I made this recipe without a rolling pin, while preparing and serving a Hanukkah meal for 8 and with three adorable kids running around, in other words – these pictures, not so hot – but the donuts, out of this world.

Pour the yeast in the base of your Kitchenaid Mixer, or a large bowl, and then add 3 tbsps of the warm milk.  I used a thermometer to get this just right, and its important – in this case baking is more like delicious chemistry, than playtime.

While the warm milk and the yeast are dancing and expanding and doing their magic, you are melting some butter and combining it with the rest of the milk and the sugar.  Allow the yeast and milk to get to know each other for about five minutes, no less but, more is okay.  Then add the butter/sugar/milk combination to the mixer.
Now, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and nutmeg and slowly pour the dry ingredients into the mixer all while mixing with the paddle on a low speed (I used 2).  Add one egg and let that continue to incorporate.  When the flour is fully mixed in, should take 3 minutes or so, remove the paddle mixer and attach the dough hook.

Let that hook do its work for a few minutes and pull the dough from the bowl and put some of your own muscle into it.  Sprinkle some flour on your workspace and knead the dough into a soft, smooth ball.  Place the ball into an oiled bowl and wrap the bowl with plastic and tuck it away into a warm space for at least an hour.
I did this at 11am, when family arrived at noon.  After about an hour roll the dough out to about 1/2″ thick and cut your donuts.  You do NOT need fancy tools.  I used a juice glass for the big rounds and a shot glass for the holes.  Once the donuts are all cut, cover with a clean kitchen towel and tuck the pan away for another 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes your donuts are soft, puffy and are ready to bake place them in a 375 degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes.  They should have a very soft golden glow, mine were very soft gold, but that just added to their super soft chewiness.

While the donuts are baking, melt three tablespoons of butter.  When fully baked dip each donut (top and bottom) into the butter mixture and then into the sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Yes, your fingers will get messy, and yes you will have used a lot of utensils and bowls, but you know what will also happen?  The twelve awesome donuts that you made will disappear, and your niece will return again and again to the table seeking out one more bite.  I think they even beat Dunkin’.

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