Monday, 15 November 2010

D is for... Darjeeling date doughnuts with Drambuie custard


Darjeeling date doughnuts

In all honesty, I don't think the Darjeeling added anything in the way of flavour to these doughnuts and, if anything, just made the dates more difficult to incorporate as their tea-soaked dampness turned the dough into a big, sticky mess. If I was to make these again, I would simply chop the dates and knead them into the doughnut dough (from a recipe that I adapted from Rachel Allen's Bake) and serve Darjeeling tea on the side. They were perfectly fine to eat, though I am no judge, being fairly uninterested in doughnuts in general. Richard, on the other hand, thought they were "delicious", so if you are a doughnut enthusiast, it may well serve you better to listen to him on this one, although he too agreed that the flavour of the Darjeeling was lost. I was personally far more interested in the Drambuie custard. I love custard. And the Drambuie added an extra naughtiness to the dish with its warming punch of booze.

1lb/ 450 g plain flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 oz/ 40g chilled butter, cubed
8 fl. oz/ 225 ml whole milk
3 oz/ 75 g caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet of fast-acting yeast
2 egg yolks
6 oz/ 150 g medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup of weak darjeeling tea (on the side, if you take my advice)
Sunflower oil for frying
8 oz/ 200 g caster sugar mixed with 4 tsp ground cinnamon

Soak the dates in the tea if you want to see if this works for you. Or, if you trust the wisdom of my experience, don't bother. In the meantime, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it together with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Heat the milk in a saucepan until warm, then stir in the sugar and yeast. Remove the milk from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour most of the liquid into the flour and mix to a soft but not wet dough (you may not need all the liquid). Knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and slightly springy. Drain the dates and knead into the dough. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and coat in the oil. Cover with oiled clingfilm or a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. I popped my dough in the airing cupboard. Knock back the risen dough and knead for 2-3 minutes. Roll out on a floured work surface to 1cm thick then, using a 5cm plain cutter, cut out about 24 rounds. Insert your forefinger into the centre of each round so it goes all the way through and swing your finger in the air in circles to make a wider hole in the centre of each doughnut - just as you would for bagels. Place the doughnuts on an oiled baking tray, cover again and leave in a warm place for about half to three quarters of an hour, until the doughnuts have nearly doubled in size.  Meanwhile heat 2 - 2 1/2 inches of oil in a wide saucepan until a breadcrumb dropped in sizzles. Carefully place the doughnuts in the oil with a slotted spoon and cook for 2 - 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil with the slotted spoon and immediately toss the doughnuts into the sugar. Only cook a few doughnuts at a time or you will overcrowd the pan and reduce the temperature of your oil too much.
Drambuie custard

Thank you, Paul, for this photo.

Follow my recipe for creme anglais but instead of pouring it into a cold bowl to cool, add a forkful of Drambuie - taste it as you go to get the perfect levels of booziness - and serve hot over your doughnuts. De-lish.

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