From the looks of my kitchen this past week, you’d think I’d given up normal eating and opted instead for some wacko doughnut diet. I’ve fried three batches in the last 7 days and no, I’m not done yet. The weather report says we’re getting snow (!) on Tuesday, and I think we’ll need some cinnamon-sugar doughnut holes to go with the season’s first cocoa.
But before the snow and the cocoa and the doughnut holes, I had a wacky idea to make cranberries into pudding. It was back when tomatoes were still delicious and cranberries in the supermarket downright confused me. But there they were, announcing fall before I was quite ready. Still: summer couldn’t last forever. Instinctively, I grabbed a bag. Okay, two.
Scheming about what to make with them on the way home, it occurred to me how similar cranberries are to rhubarb, which became curd back in 2010. Bright red and oh-so-sour, both beg for sweetness and richness to soften the tart bite of the fruit. In both cases, sugar + egg yolks work wonders.
Not to gild the lily, but pump the sweet-tart bright-red curd into a nutmeg-scented yeast doughnut, and you’ve got yourself a treat.
Needless to say, I will be serving these at Thanksgivukkah – dessert #1, to be followed shortly thereafter by the feast of 1,000 pies. I think I mentioned this earlier, but half the doughnuts will be filled with this, the other half with pumpkin pudding likely inspired by Deb. And maybe, just maybe, if making 25 menu items for 14 amazing guests makes me as crazy-in-a-good-way as I think it might, I just might put both in each doughnut. I told you, things may get crazy around here.
Having initially tested the recipe without nutmeg, I can reassure you that they’re still good. But, if you’ve got whole nutmeg, don’t skip it. And if you don’t this may be your reason to buy it. It’s cheap, keeps well, and makes everything more delicious.
Thanksgiving ideas, elsewhere: We’re officially in the Tday countdown. In case you’re hosting (or jonesing to make a friends’ Thanksgiving meal as an excuse to make all this good food, I recommend dry-brined turkey, roasted or fried; brussels sprouts of insane deliciousness; bourbon-pecan bars that deserve a place on your table, Tday or not; and plenty of other recipe ideas here, here, and — if you’re thinking Thanksgivukkah — here.
More doughnuts! It’s doughnut week here on NDP. I’ve got a guest-blogger for the next ones; you don’t want to miss’em. Stay tuned.
Nutmeg Doughnuts with Cranberry Curd Filling
Dough adapted from Saveur, curd adapted from here
Makes 2 dozen
For the doughnuts:
2 packages active dry yeast (1/2 oz. total)
1 1/2 cups milk or unflavored soy milk, heated to 115°
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing (for non-dairy doughnuts, substitute corn oil or Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
4 3/4 cups (1 lb. 5 oz.) all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
Canola oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups cranberry curd, for filling (see below)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
For the cranberry curd:
3/4 pounds (12 oz.) fresh or frozen cranberries
4 tablespoons water
1/2 cup sugar, divided
4 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks (for non-dairy, use Earth Balance or coconut oil)
Make the doughnut dough: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Beat 1/2 cup sugar and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy. Add yeast mixture, vanilla, nutmeg, salt, egg, and yolks; beat until combined. With the motor running, slowly add flour; beat until dough is smooth. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap; set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Make the cranberry curd: In a small saucepan, heat cranberries, 1/4 sugar, and water on medium. Cook until cranberries have turned completely soft and there are no whole pieces left, adding water by the tablespoon if cranberries stick to the bottom of the pan. Push the mixture through a strainer.
Add a couple inches of water to the pot of a double boiler and set over medium heat. Put egg yolks, butter/oil, and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in the bowl of the double boiler and whisk to combine. When sugar has dissolved completely, remove bowl from heat and add the cranberry puree by the spoonful, to temper the eggs. When all rhubarb has been added, set bowl over pot; the water should be simmering. Continue stirring the cranberry mixture; after about 5 minutes, the mixture will be warm and slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and again press through a strainer — this will give your curd that smooth, pudding-like texture.
Finish the doughnuts: On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 14″ round about 1/2-inch thick. Using a floured 3-inch ring cutter, cut dough into 20 rounds; gather and reuse scraps. Transfer rounds to lightly greased parchment paper—lined baking sheets, at least 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of oil in a 6-quart pot until a deep-fry thermometer reads 350°. I found the doughnuts slipped off the parchment paper quite easily using a delicate hand and some patience, but if you’re nervous about messing up their shapes, you can do as Saveur recommends and cut the the parchment paper into squares around each doughnut, so each doughnut is on its own little piece of parchment, making the transfer easier. Working in batches, place donuts in oil, paper side up, using tongs to quickly peel off and discard paper. Cook until puffed and golden, about 75 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a baking sheet with a wire rack; let cool completely.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain 1/4-inch tip and fill with curd. Working with one doughnut at a time, insert tip about 1/2-inch deep into the side of doughnut, pipe 2 tablespoons of curd in, and set aside.
Dust filled doughnuts with powdered sugar before serving.
Doughnuts will keep for the better part of a day, but not longer. No excuse: eat up!