Although I’m calling these sourdough doughnuts, I don’t know if that’s technically correct. They certainly have some starter in them, but they also have yeast and I’ve really just whopped some leaven into my regular doughnut recipe on the premise that it’s bound to make it better. Right? Yeah, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing or even if what I’ve done has any bearing on, like, actual proper orthodox baking stuff….but oh my they worked. Whatever alchemy I harnessed and regardless of whether I did things in the correct order or right amounts, something about the process must have been a good thing to do. I’ve created Supercharged Doughnuts.
The realisation that I can make doughnuts at least as good as the St John ones at home coincides nicely with me quickly reaching the point where I’m about to give up on finding perfect doughnuts and coffee in one place easily. Yup – sod it. I’ll just have to make them myself and create all the weird and wonderful flavours that I always dreamt of other people making for me.
I’ve been messing around with cascara recently in cocktails, and as both a flavouring and a coffee alternative in warmer months. It’s worth being aware that it contains quite a whopper of a caffeine hit, more than coffee, which I didn’t realise when I first started guzzling the stuff with wild abandon, wondering why my eyelids were twitching and I was ricocheting off the walls. The Hasbean stuff I’ve been using is subtly tea like in tannins with bergamot notes turning to full on marmalade. I decided a cascara creme patisserier would be just the thing to fill my oversized beauties with for a serious double caffeine boost with a coffee one lunchtime.
I have designs on a cardamom creme next, maybe a coffee one too, coffee flavourings are hard to get right so I’d like to nail that. Cherry jam, pistachio fondant, violet creme, blood orange, rose, fig, marzipan, chocolate, sprinkles. Oh and booze. Why not a liqueur enhanced creme or curd? Elderflower, Campari, gin, Aperol, sherry, whisky, zesty martini, floral aviation, a sour frothy meringue. Who remembers my Negroni doughnuts? I think they’re definitely due an update along with a whole team of new cocktail ideas.
A shot of Campari in a citrus curd really adds a bitter and delicious kick.
And when only bacon for brunch will do, I give you the humble doughnut bacon sandwich; keep it simple or candy that bacon and maybe add a scoop of maple syrup and whisky ice cream. Streaky generally the better cut, sadly not what I had to hand.
So, doughnuts aren’t the quickest thing to make. Like sourdough they take time, it’s not tricky but you do need to pay them a bit of attention. Adding the leaven meant these had to be started a day in advance. It’s MASSIVELY worth that extra little bit of effort if you have some starter handy or can get hold of some though.
Makes 6-8 doughnuts ready for filling
Take 35g starter and refresh as you would normally for bread.
Break up the 35g starter in 30g warm water until you get a porridge like consistency, add 50g strong white flour and mix until it’s all incorporated and you have a firm leaven.
Leave in the fridge over night.
I then continue the following morning with Dan Lepard’s doughnut recipe as it’s always worked well for me.
Make the yeast sponge as you would normally, which is then left for a couple of hours. At this point, combine with your leaven (retaining around 35g for future refreshments) and continue with the recipe, breaking up the sponge and leaven together with all the other ingredients as if the leaven was not there.
Once you have your final batch of well risen dough, divide into 6-8 balls and leave to rise under a tea towel for a final hour.
Fry each doughnut for around 1-1.5 minutes on each side before popping on kitchen towel to mop up any excess oil. Squeeze in your chosen filling using a baking syringe and finish by rolling in caster sugar.
I only ever make a couple at a time but the dough keeps very well. If you’re going to use it within a day or two, pop it in the fridge to stop it from over proving and give it a quick knead, re-shape and let sit for about an hour again before using. If you’re freezing it – and you should, everyone should make extra and have an emergency doughnut stash in the freezer – then pull out and thaw, then repeat as before.
For the cascara creme patissiere
Infuse 175ml whole milk with cascara overnight in the fridge then strain before using.
Whisk 2 egg yolks with 65g caster sugar until thick and pale. Whisk in a teaspoon of each plain flour and corn flour then set aside.
Bring the milk to a gentle simmer in a saucepan with a couple of drops of (optional) vanilla extract, stirring all the time. Pull it off the heat and let cool for 30 seconds.
Add half the milk slowly to the egg mixture, whisking all the time to prevent the eggs from scrambling, then tip the mixture back into the saucepan and continue simmering for a minute, whisking the whole time until thick and smooth.
For the Campari citrus curd
In a large heatproof bowl set above a saucepan of boiling water add the juice of 1 large orange and 1 lemon, a 30ml shot of Campari, 125g caster sugar and 50ml diced butter and stir until all the butter has melted.
Stir in 1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks, beaten, and whisk the mixture continuously for around 15 minutes until it’s thick and glossy.
Both of these recipes will generously, messily, stupidly fill a batch of 2-3 doughnuts.