Hi guys. I failed. I failed as epically as I wanted to succeed. It was supposed to be my big baking comeback: Sarah the Baker Yoon comes raging back, with an unbelievably delicious post that will make everyone remember how amazing she is! YA RIGHT! The best thing that turned out of this whole baking debacle is probably the title of this post. (Haha - get it? Get it? Donut/Do not? Ok...)
I knew I wanted to bake something that was super decadent and a bit out of the ordinary — a real treat. So I researched and poured myself over recipe ideas and finally came to the decision to make Lemon Meringue Doughnuts. I've had these doughnuts from a bakery in Toronto called Glory Hole Doughnuts, and almost died and went to heaven when I took a bite of it. It was everything I loved: chewy warm donuts with tangy sweet lemon curd topped with toasty meringue. It was huuuge too, which made it all the more indulgent. It costs a pretty penny, but for good reason. There's a lot going on there and required a lot of work and love. So I thought it was perfect for this occasion. I've never made doughnuts before, let alone fancy ones like this, so it was gonna be a challenge!
And a challenge it was. I wouldn't say that it was necessarily because the doughnuts were hard to make - but it just showed how rusty I am with this whole baking and blogging thing. I timed everything wrong and I couldn't keep track of whether I was documenting things properly. I was supposed to make them fresh to bring to a friends get-together, but I misread the recipe and didn't give enough time to rest these yeast treats. So I had to pack up the dough midway and after waiting too long, I made them at my friend's house. I also got lazy once we finished dinner there so I copped out and decided to make "donut bites" instead of my original plan. So as you can see, it was just not gonna work out.
One success, though, was this delicious lemon curd. It was perfectly lemony and sweet, and I can imagine it would be delicious on about anything. It's easy to make but does require you to stand over the bowl on a double-boiler and whisk the whole time so that the egg doesn't curdle. They were definitely the saving grace to my donut bites. We ended up dunking the fresh donut bites in the curd and we scraped the whole bowl clean.
I found a basic but highly-rated raised doughnut recipe, but my doughnuts had nothing to do with it. Haha! I totally screwed it all up. It became doughy and tough since I left it in the fridge for too long. And then I ended up undercooking the inside and overcooking the outside since I didn't have a thermometer for proper oil temperature. It was nothing like I wanted these bite-sized morsels of deep-fried dough to be. But... you know what? It was still pretty good. We still devoured these treats and my friends really enjoyed it, despite it being "all wrong".
And then I realized I was being extra hard on myself and disappointed in myself since I felt like I ruined my big baking re-emergence. I wanted to prove myself and I guess that's exactly what was "all wrong". Isn't that a bit like life? When we feel like life isn't a certain way we want it to be, or when we're so caught up on what it "looks" like, we often miss the treasure right in front of us. Sometimes what we have right now, even with its messy mistakes and shortcomings, is most valuable. Sometimes a small piece of fried dough and lemon curd is all you need to make friends happy.
And so with that, I give you my failed donuts, proudly and happily. I hope you give it a try and make it better than I have! Also, if you want, you can go to this beautiful blog that tells you step-by-step how to make these! I didn't use the same recipe, but it helped me figure out how to make them. Check it out at Notions & Notations of a Novice Cook.
See you again soon!!
Lemon Meringue Doughnuts
1/4 cup water, warm (not hot)
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/3 cup milk, lukewarm
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/6 cup shortening
for lemon curd
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1/8 cup of water
make raised doughnuts
1. Soak yeast in 1/2 cup warm (not hot) water - 5 minutes. TIP: I throw about 1 tsp. sugar in with this to kick it in the butt to get it going.
2. Scald the milk and melt shortening.
3. Pour milk over sugar and salt in a bowl. Stir until dissolved. Make sure this mixture is warm, not hot.
4. Add 1/2 cup of flour, eggs and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Add remaining flour to make a soft dough. When dough leaves sides of bowl, turn out onto lightly floured board.
5. Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic. Place in lightly greased bowl. Grease top of dough and cover with waxed paper. Allow to rise in warm place (80-85°F) until doubled (1-1/2 hours). You can make the lemon curd while you wait.
6. Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut-with a #2 can that has been opened with a tadpole can opener to leave a sharp cutting edge. Use a pill bottle or the center of doughnut cutter to make the center hole. Remove centers.
7. Let rise on the board until very light (40-60 minutes).
8. Drop into deep hot fat (325° - 350°) and turn when doughnuts are just barely brown. Turn once again when browned sufficiently. Make sure the doughnuts are completely cooled before filling.
make lemon curd
1. Place the zest, juice, sugar, salt, and eggs in a metal bowl. Whisk away. Add in the butter, clamp on an instant-read thermometer, and set the bowl over a tiny pot of simmering water.
2. Don’t ever stop whisking gently or you’ll end up with a layer of scrambled eggs on the edge of your bowl.
3. Keep cooking and stirring until it’s thick, and the thermometer reads 160°F, 5-10 minutes.
4. Place a fine-mesh sieve over another metal bowl and press the curd through it with a rubber spatula.
5. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap, cool completely, and refrigerate until ready to use.
fill the doughnuts
1. Use a long tip so that you can reach the centre of the doughnuts.
2. Lightly hold the doughnut from the bottom, cradling the sides with your fingers, and gently insert the piping bag tip. If the doughnut isn’t hollow for some reason, you can clear a space with a chopstick, and then simply squeeze your piping bag, slowly withdrawing it as you fill.
make italian meringue and top the doughnuts
1. Get the egg whites ready to go, but don’t start beating just yet.
2. In a heavy sauce pan, dissolve 1/2 cup of sugar completely in 1/8 cup of water. When the sugar is completely dissolved, crank up the heat and wait for it to boil.
3. Start up your stand mixer and beat the egg whites. While the sugar syrup is climbing in temperature, add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
4. Slowly pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites while it is rapidly beating. Mix on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes, or until the bowl has come to room temperature.
5. Spread the meringue on top of the doughnuts (forming any and all peaks, as you wish).
6. Stick it under the broiler until the meringue just browns. Or, alternatively, be really cool and use a blowtorch.