October 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' October 2010 Challenge - Doughnuts and Berliner

This months Daring Bakers' Challenge was to make Doughnuts or Bombolonis (or Berliner, as we call them in Switzerland).

My first doughnut :-)
The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

The sugar adds a nice sweetness
To be honest, I was a bit afraid of deep frying. Partly because I've never done it before and partly because I currently have a kitchen with a gas stove and having an open flame next to a pot with boiling hot oil made me a tiny bit nervous. But everything worked out fine and I'm glad that I now can add one more cooking technique to my repertoire.

Yummie Berliner!
The recipe can be found here and was actually very simple in the making. The dough is a simple yeast dough which requires no special skills, except to be able to stick to a recipe and trust the many talented bakers before you who have designed it. The most important part is not to heat up the water and milk too much because you don't want to kill the yeast. Its ideal working temperature is around 40°C, much above and it will die. So keep everything lukewarm at the most. It is also important to knead the dough thoroughly (or work it in your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment for a few minutes). The third important thing when working with a yeast dough is to let it rise a proper amount of time. I actually changed Lori's recipe in this regard and took to Ms. Humble's advice for doughnuts and let my dough rise in the fridge over night. This also obliged me very much as I could spread out the challenge over two different evenings.

Some other changes I made: I substituted milk and butter with lactose free milk and lactose free butter (some girls at my office are lactose intolerant). Also, I used 540g of wheat flour and 110g of spelt flour because I ran out of wheat flour (what kind of a baker am I...?). Finally, I left out the nutmeg because I'm not particularly fond of it and 1 teaspoon seemed like an awful lot of it.

Many more - filled with crab apple jelly
I couldn't decide on the shape, so I made both doughnuts and small Berliner out of my yeast dough. The Berliner i filed with grape jelly or crab apple jelly (both not homemade) and rolled them in powdered sugar or caster sugar (to make sure I could distinguish them later on). 
The whole collection
 When tasting my first doughnut immediately after deep frying I was surprised at how unsweet it tasted. Then I realised that since I've let my dough rise for almost 24h the yeast had even more time to ferment the sugar. Next time I'd probably use a little more sugar in the dough. On the other hand, the not so sweet dough allowed me to make a chocolate glazing for the doughnuts (I chopped 120g dark chocolate, added 15g butter and melted it over a water bath, added a teaspoon of milk because the chocolate glazing was too thick, realised that this caused the chocolate to curdle, rescued it with a few teaspoons of warm tap water, lamented the fact that I seemed to have lost my chocolate karma, dipped the doughnuts in the glazing anyway) to balance out the tastes. I ran out of glazing so I rolled the rest of the doughnuts and the doughnut holes in caster sugar.

All in all I was very pleased with the whole experiment. This recipe is excellent, producing very soft doughnuts with a thin crisp crust. The chocolate or jam and sugar added the right amount of sweetness. Thanks for a great challenge, Lori!


  1. Excellent work on this challenge! I love the look of the chocolate glazed doughnuts, and the jam filled Berliner looks delicious!

  2. Great job on the challenge! They look fantastic!

  3. Your doughnuts look so professional! I loved each and every version. I also love the ceramic plates. Great photos!

  4. Great photos, love all of the doughnuts esp the jam filled ones...

  5. Wow! Great job! I haven't baked anything in a long time now... My doctor forbid me to bake... I have a nasty strain injury on my right wrist :-( It is truly annoying but I'm trying to really cure it now so I can get back in the game soon ;-)

  6. Your doughnuts look perfect and yes the doughnut aren't very sweet but after icing have the correct sweetness. Superb effort on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  7. oh wow, those look really perfect and great! I was scared of the frying part too, but i didn't have time for the challenge, so i never really got to it. Glad that it wasn't as hard as it seemed!

  8. Thanks for all your compliments. I really enjoyed the challenge and I'm truly happy with the results.
    Renata: The plates were a gift from my mother - she has a great eye for these simple yet stylish decorations.
    Katrin: That's too bad about your injury! What an annoying thing... Hope your wrist gets better really soon and you can go back to baking :-)