Years ago, a foodie friend who’d lived in New York raved about the doughnuts, so when I visited not long after, I vowed to eat them all. I hit up LES for Doughnut Plant’s epic blackout, tres leches and carrot cake doughnuts, and trekked to Bed-Stuy, when Dough was still just there, for its soft, giant yeasted varieties in hibiscus, lemon meringue and more.
I’d only scratched the surface before I had to leave, and so began the plans, the doughnut seed if you will, for this adventure. Since then, doughnuts have risen to global stardom, but the fried rings of my dreams are still New York’s, be they oldfashioned at Peter Pan, new-wave at The Doughnut Project or Korean at Grace Street. You can fill weeks just sampling the selection.
Yeasted doughnuts are the best variety to make at home and these guys are just as you’d find in Gotham: big, billowy and best eaten within a few hours. They’re also glazed in tempting flavours, like the three I’ve included: vanilla bean and halva, dulce de leche and almonds, and fresh cherry. Each makes enough to glaze a dozen doughnuts but if you want to enjoy all three, reduce the quantities accordingly.
200 ml (7 fl oz) lukewarm milk
2 teaspoons dried yeast
500 g (1 lb 2 oz/3 1/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
75 g (2 ¾ oz/.⁄. cup) caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
100 g (3 ½ oz) unsalted butter, chopped, softened
canola oil, to deep-fry
Combine the milk and yeast in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes or until frothy, then whisk in the eggs. Using an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, knead the flour, sugar, salt, yeast mixture and nutmeg, if using, until combined, then knead for a further 3 minutes. Add the butter, one piece at a time, kneading until incorporated before adding the next, then knead for a further 8–10 minutes or until smooth and elastic (the dough will be quite sticky). Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Knock back the dough, then roll it out on a lightly floured work surface until 1.5 cm (½ in) thick. Using a 9 cm (3 ½ in) concentric doughnut cutter, or 9 cm (3 ½ in) and 3 cm (1 ¼ in) round pastry cutters, cut out doughnuts and holes, rerolling the trimmings (you can add the holes to the trimmings or reserve them to cook – my pick). Transfer the doughnuts to two baking trays lined with baking paper, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside for 45 minutes or until risen and puffy.
Fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan one-third full of canola oil and heat over medium heat until the temperature reaches 180° C (350° F). Using a flat slotted spoon, gently lower two or three doughnuts into the oil and cook for 45 seconds or until golden underneath. Turn over and cook for a further 45 seconds or until golden and puffed all over. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel set over a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, returning the oil to 180°C (350° F) between batches.
Allow the doughnuts to cool to room temperature then, just before glazing, prepare your choice of glaze. (If you want to try all three, make each one just before glazing.) It should be the consistency of thick, wet sand. If it’s too runny, add a little more icing sugar. If it’s too thick, warm it a little or add a touch more liquid. Place a wire rack over a tray to catch the drippings.
To make the vanilla halva glaze, whisk the icing sugar, milk and vanilla in a bowl. Add the doughnuts, in batches, and coat generously all over in the glaze, then transfer to the prepared rack. Scatter over the halva and allow to set.
For the dulce de leche and almond glaze, whisk the dulce de leche and boiling water in a bowl until smooth. Add the doughnuts, in batches, and coat generously all over in the glaze, then transfer to the rack. Scatter over the almonds and allow to set.
For the cherry glaze, whisk the icing sugar, smashed cherries and juice in a bowl to combine, pressing the cherry skins to extract as much juice as possible. Add the doughnuts, in batches, and coat generously all over in the glaze, including the cherry skins, then transfer to the rack and allow to set.
VANILLA BEAN + HALVA GLAZE
300 g (10 ½ oz/2 cups) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted
1 ½ tablespoons warm milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
crumbled halva, to scatter
DULCE DE LECHE + TOASTED ALMOND GLAZE
395 g (14 oz) dulce de leche
2 tablespoons boiling water
toasted flaked almonds, to scatter
FRESH CHERRY GLAZE
300 g (10 ½ oz/2 cups) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar
90 g (3 oz) pitted fresh cherries, smashed, juices reserved
Photographer: © Yasmin Newman (location) and Alicia Taylor (studio)