Bread Week on Great British Bake Off means doughnuts all round

The Great British Bake Off inspires hundreds across the country to get baking. Such is the diverse appeal of the baking television show, that bakers of all levels and ages tune in every week and join in bakealongs. It is comfort TV at its best, and one of the important things about this cooking show is its aspirational pull. It makes people want to step out of their usual comfort zone and have a go at baking something different.

One of these people is me. I’ve baked a handful of loaves in my time so to really push myself, I made doughnuts.

I test my own recipes twice, to check that they taste great and the measurements and methods are all correct too.

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If it’s a recipe out of my usual remit, I will research other recipes and have a go at recreating those.

My only experience with doughnuts so far is stuffing them in my face. I once travelled 150 miles for a round-trip to Manchester to collect what is in my opinion, the UK’s best doughnuts.

I have never made a doughnut and with upcoming Bread Week, I decided to give it a try. If you’ve made bread before, you’ll realise it’s an enriched bread mixture that undergoes two different ‘proves’.

Amongst the 40+ doughnut recipes I looked at, Chetna Makan’s and Justin Gellatly’s stood out the most. Here is a recipe that takes the best of both, to create a plate of 24 doughnuts.



A tray of doughnuts lie in a tin with paper lining
Fill the doughnuts with your favourite filling

Doughnut recipe

Makes 24 doughnuts (1kg dough)

Preparation time: 45 minutes, plus proving and overnight chilling

Cooking time: 3 minutes per doughnut, fried in batches of two

Utensils

Mixer

Fillet knife

Flour scraper

Baking trays

Deep fat fryer

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour

60g caster sugar

10g fine salt

8g fast acting dried yeast

4 eggs

Zest of ½ lemon

150g cold water

125g softened unsalted butter

3 litres sunflower oil for deep-frying

Vanilla caster sugar for tossing doughnuts in (regular caster sugar works fine if you can’t get hold of the vanilla flavour)

Raspberry jam or filling of your choice

Method

Place everything except the butter in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Once the dough starts to come together after around a minute, use the dough hook in your mixer and mix for 6 minutes. You can make this part by hand, by increasing the knead time to 8 minutes.

Give the dough and machine a 2 minute rest. Both will be quite warm.

With the mixer running on medium, start adding butter by the tablespoon to the dough. You are looking for butter to be totally absorbed by the dough, which should take around 2 minutes.

Scrape the dough down every few minutes, just to keep the bowl nice and clean.

Mix for another 4 minutes, this time on high, until the dough is stretchy and elastic. If doing by hand, knead the dough for around 7 minutes.

Pull the dough together into a tidy ball, cover with cling-film and leave in a slightly warm room.

Once the dough has risen and has roughly doubled in size after around 3-4 hours, knock the air out, re-cover and put in the fridge overnight.



A ball of doughnut dough is ready to be cut with a flour scraper
Doughnut dough that is ready to be cut into doughnut balls

Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece into a taut ball in your palm. Put on a floured tray and cover with lightly greased cling-film.

Prove the dough for another 3-4 hours or until doubled in size.

Fill up your deep-fat fryer or deep sauce-pan filled with sunflower oil.

Gently drop your doughnuts into the fryer. Handle with care as the puffy doughnuts will deflate when you put them in the fryer.

Fry each doughnut for 1.5 minutes on each side at 160°C until golden brown.



A doughnut is cut open, with a range of fillings behind it including pistachio cream and white chocolate
Close up of a doughnut cut open

Toss them in a bowl of caster sugar whilst warm and leave to cool.

Poke a fillet knife into the side of a doughnut and insert into the centre, turning the knife around fully to make a discreet yet substantial hole.

Fill a piping bag with jam or your preferred filling and fill the doughnuts till packed.

Tips

Some recipes recommend weighing the doughnut pieces before shaping into balls. This isn’t imperative. I weighed mine out to an exact 43.4grams each, which took an additional 25 minutes and my doughnuts still didn’t end up the same size. Some were a little deflated, some remained puffy with air.

Some recipes for a 500g flour mixture will say make 20 doughnuts. I find these too big and it can be a struggle to finish a filled doughnut. Making them slightly smaller means you can enjoy a filled doughnut without feeling stuffed.

Feel free to use a sauce-pan for frying, however a deep-fat fryer is recommended. This enables you to have full temperature control and you don’t need to keep taking the temperature to ensure it is consistent whilst frying.

Don’t be shy to fill your doughnuts with any filling you want. Jam, Nutella and cream are your usual suspects, however ‘Nduja and arrabiata are other sauces that you might like to consider. Just don’t go dusting the doughnuts in sugar if you are going to be using these fillings.

Doughnuts can be fiddly to make. I spent the weekend making these and yes, it is worth it, but you do require patience.

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