Food & Wine (March 2011)
Many times over the past few years, we’ve considered making doughnuts. But the timing was never right. Either we didn’t have enough time or the right occasion to go to the trouble.
This past weekend, though, it was finally time to make the doughnuts.
We were having a lazy weekend at home, with few plans. And these Sweet Potato Doughnuts from Food & Wine were calling out to us.
First things first, though: If you want to make these doughnuts, you need to set your expectations.
These are not the fried variety you may be accustomed to buying at your local doughnuteria. There's no jelly filling, no chocolate glaze, no sprinkles. As part of a feature on healthier takes on desserts, these doughnuts are baked.
So off the bat, this recipe has one knock against it. A baked doughnut will never stack up to a fried one. But then again, eating these baked doughnuts is less likely to send you into a sugar and fat-induced coma, so there’s that.
So if you’re able to overlook the fact that these doughnuts aren't fried, and love them for what they are, we think you might be pleased.
The process here is time-intensive, especially for a breakfast item -- nearly four hours in total. Most of the time is due to multiple resting periods so that the dough can rise. We found that our dough didn’t rise too much (which perhaps foreshadowed some issues down the road).
We loved punching these out, using a set of cutters that we actually received as a Christmas gift from Zach's sister Cassidy. If you're looking for cutters, ours are an 11-piece Ateco set (available on Amazon for $14), and we're very happy with them.
Once these come out of the oven, the doughnuts get tossed in a cinnamon-sugar mix. When we pulled ours out, we were eager to taste them, so we quickly doused a few into the mix, shook it off, and then dug in.
And we were disappointed. But then again, we were thinking and hoping that they would stack up to deep-fried doughnuts, and they just don’t.
Once we accepted them for what they are, we found them to be okay. The texture was actually more similar to a bagel than a doughnut -- dense and chewy. We attribute it to the fact that our dough didn't rise very much, for whatever reason. (Maybe our yeast was too old? It was within the expiration date on the package, though!)
Also, ours ended up disappointingly light on sweet potato flavor. More than anything, we just tasted the cinnamon and sugar. Which, hey, who doesn't love cinnamon and sugar? But it was still a little less than we'd hoped for.
Are we glad we tried these? Absolutely! Would we make them again? Probably not.
Next time, we’re breaking out the frying oil.
- ACTIVE: 45 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 3 HRS 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: MAKES 2 DOZEN DOUGHNUTS
- One 12-ounce sweet potato
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 envelope instant dry yeast
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- MAKE THE DOUGHNUTS: Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and cook it in a microwave at high power for 10 minutes, until tender. Let cool, then peel and puree the sweet potato; you should have about 1 cup.
- In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until nutty and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the browned butter and solids into a small bowl and let cool.
- In the same skillet, heat the milk until just warm, about 105°. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Gently mix in the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla seeds, nutmeg and rum. Add the sweet potato puree, browned butter and solids, egg and egg yolks and beat until combined. Add the 3 1/4 cups of bread flour and beat at medium speed until the dough is evenly moistened, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to moderately high and beat until a soft dough forms, about 5 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a buttered bowl. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 3/4-inch round cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible. Using a smaller round cutter (1 inch), stamp out the centers. Transfer the doughnuts and holes to 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the doughnuts and holes rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400° and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake the holes for 10 minutes and the doughnuts for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.
- MEANWHILE, MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Put half of the hot doughnuts in a large bowl and drizzle with some of the melted butter; toss and turn to coat. Sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar and toss and turn until evenly coated. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, butter and cinnamon sugar. Transfer the doughnuts to a platter; serve.