Glazed Doughnuts for Chinese New Year

I decided to make some doughnuts for my coworkers because last week my boss made bagels for us to enjoy.  I had the perfect recipe, or so I thought.  Actually the doughnut recipe was quite good, but the glaze recipes are what really caught my eye.  But more about that later.

I set off to making my doughnut dough.  Should be easy.  No problem-o.  By the time I’m done mixing the dough and it’s about to rise, I can tell something is wrong.  There is no way this is going to rise, I can just tell.  It’s too hard.  I figured I put too much flour in there.  But I decided to give it an hour anyway, and see what happens.  Sure enough, nada. 

I will not be stopped!  I try again.  Same thing.  Now I’m irritated.  I decide it must be the recipe.  Certainly not the baker, haha. 

Find a new recipe.  This one works.  But, as I’m making it, I realize why attempts #1 and #2 were utter failures.  You see, I have this candy thermometer and the Celsius is in a pretty red font and the Fahrenheit is in a bland black font.  Moreover the Celsius is on top.  Being on top, and being pretty red, I obviously read that line of numbers.  So, where I was trying to get my warm water to 100 degrees…it was actually more like 200 and killing the yeast.  Of course I knew that too-hot of water (or milk, or whatever) will kill yeast.  I was just too much of a space cadet to realize that I was making it that excessively hot. 

Doughnut attempt #3 worked like a charm.  Because of this fiasco I didn’t get to use the original doughnut recipe that I wanted to use, but the one here is very good and worth sharing. 

I made two different glazes for my doughnuts.  First, to celebrate Chinese New Year, I have a Rich Five-Spice Glaze.  Second, because I love cranberries, Tart Cranberry Glaze.  I should warn you, these store fine but do not put them in an airtight container because the moisture makes them a little too damp.  Put them in a box or loosely covered, but not sealed.  I had half in a box and half in a pie carrier and the boxed ones were definitely better off and the glaze retained a slight crispy film.

Glazed Doughnuts
Source: Alton Brown

1 1/2 c milk
2 1/2 oz vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
2 packages instant yeast
1/3 c warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 t salt
1 t nutmeg
23 oz all-purpose flour (about 3 c), plus more for dusting surface
Vegetable oil for frying

  • In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside and allow it to cool to a lukewarm temperature.
  • In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water (95-105 F) and let dissolve for 5 minutes, until it starts to foam. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the lukewarm milk and shortening mixture. Add eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour.
  • Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then increase the speed to medium, beating until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increasing the speed to medium and beat well.
  • Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  • On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.  (or use glasses like I did…)
  • Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Rich Five-Spice Glaze (enough glaze to cover 18 doughnuts), from Food and Wine
3 ½ c powdered sugar
1/3 c heavy cream
1 ½ t light corn syrup
¾ t Chinese Five Spice Powder
½ t vanilla extract
¼ t salt
2-3 T hot water

  • In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients with a fork, adding more or less water as needed.
  • Dip top of doughnuts, let harden slightly, and re-dip if desired.

Tart Cranberry Glaze (enough glaze to cover 18 doughnuts) from Food and Wine
1 c fresh or frozen cranberries
2 T sugar
¼ c water
3 ½ c powdered sugar
1 ½ t light corn syrup
½ t vanilla extract
¼ t table salt
2-3 T hot water

  • In a small saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, and water.  Simmer, crushing berries until like jam – about 6 minutes.
  • Transfer to a bowl with all other ingredients except hot water.  Mix with a fork, adding water as needed.
  • Dip top of doughnuts, let harden slightly, and re-dip if desired.
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