Saturday, May 28, 2011

Baked Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Donuts

Inspired by my favorite donuts at Ike & Jane and by the desire to make donuts without having to fry them and subsequently dispose of vast quantities of oil, I adapted a recipe for baked donuts on 101 Cookbooks to create Pepper Jelly filled donuts with a cream cheese frosting. They certainly wowed the crowd with a flavor similar to sweet rolls paired with the slight heat of the jam and the creaminess from a dab of frosting.

Baked Pepper Jelly Filled Donuts with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks. Makes 1 1/2 - 2 dozen medium doughnuts.
1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
Couple pinches of nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 jar of pepper jelly
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
4 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla. extract
Optional: 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Optional: sugar to dust

    1. Warm milk slowly in the microwave until its about as hot as the average hot water out of your kitchen sink. But err on the side of less warm because if the milk's too hot you may kill the yeast. Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, nutmeg, and salt. Add the flour and stir just until the flour is incorporated. Pour the mixture into a food processor and pulse with the dough blade; otherwise use a hand or stand mixer on medium. If your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. The dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. I actually skipped this last step for lack of counter space and things turned out fine, but do the following if you choose: turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.

    2. Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place. Heidi Swanson suggested turning on the oven at this point and setting the bowl on top. I left mine in the dining room and obviously (see image below) things rose just fine. Let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
    3. Punch down the dough and roll it out to about 1/2-inch thick on a floured surface. Use a 2-3 inch cutter  (cookie cutter, wine glass, etc) to stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you are not creating filled donuts, here is when you would stamp out the smaller inner circle for the hole. Over estimate how big the hole needs to be because a small hole will simply expand together when cooking. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes. If you are not baking them all right now, leave the shaped donuts on a baking sheet, covered, overnight for second baking the next day. They are best when eaten immediately. An hour before you are ready to bake the donuts, take them out and let rise in a warm place before baking.
    4. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. In this case, under-baking is better than over-baking.

    5. Remove the doughnuts from the oven. Optional: brush with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Pipe jelly into the insides and spread cream cheese frosting on top.

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