I do love a good yeast-raised doughnut, and in fact in most ways, they’re easier to make than their cake-style counterparts. True, they require some advance planning, but they’re aren’t as fussy in the oil, or as sensitive to ambient temperatures. The best part is, they’re amazingly light, much more so than a store-bought version. Try them once and you’ll be making them every weekend. Oh, and if you want an even fluffier texture, up the gluten content by using bread flour.
For the sponge:
4 ounces (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3.5 ounces (half cup minus one tablespoon) lukewarm water
1 large egg
For the doughnuts:
5.75 ounces (1 slightly generous cup) all-purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons instant yeast
0.6 ounces (1/4 cup) milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
0.5 ounces (2 1/4 teaspoons) sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) milk or water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter at room temperature
Canola oil for frying
Extra fine sugar for rolling (for jelly doughnuts)
Raspberry or other fruit jam for filling (for jelly doughnuts)
Combine the sponge ingredients in a small bowl and stir them with a fork until smooth. Let the sponge ferment for half an hour at room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, put the sponge in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add all the remaining ingredients except the butter. Knead it for 10 minutes on medium speed, scraping down as needed. After 10 minutes, start adding the butter a tablespoon at a time, kneading until each is well incorporated.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of 3/8 inches. Using a 3 1/2-inch circular cookie cutter, cut out the doughnuts, re-rolling the scraps until the dough is completely used. If making jelly doughnuts, leave the dough circles intact. Otherwise, use a small 3/4″ circular cutter to punch out holes in the center. Return the doughnuts to the towel-lined baking sheet, covered with a sheet of lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let them rise until puffy, 30-45 minutes.
Fry in 360-degree oil for roughly 30 seconds per side. Drain on a wire rack. Ice and decorate as desired.
For jelly doughnuts, roll the fried rounds in superfine sugar while the doughnuts are still warm. Attach a pastry tip (ideally a #230 Bismark tip, but just about any good-size tip will do) to the corner of quart-sized zip-lock bag and fill with about a cup of jam. Using a cake tester, gently poke a hole in the side (or bottom) of each doughnut. Fill with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of jam. Eat!
Makes 12-14 doughnuts.