Martha Collison’s homemade doughnut recipe
- 100g unsalted butter, cubed
- 150ml whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 1tsp salt
- 14g fast action dried yeast
- 60g caster sugar
- 2 litres Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
- 350g fondant icing sugar or icing sugar
- Assortment of gel food colourings
Place the butter in a small saucepan with the milk. Heat very gently over a low heat until the butter has melted completely and the milk is warmed through. Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a small jug.
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl, and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. This positioning is important, because salt can kill yeast if you put it right on top of it, which will stop your dough from rising. Tip the sugar into the bowl and make a well in the middle of the flour mixture.
Pour the warm milk and butter and the beaten eggs into the well in the flour and stir the mixture together using a round-ended knife or a wooden spoon. Keep mixing until all the flour is incorporated and a soft, sticky dough forms.
Lightly oil a clean work surface and tip the dough out onto it. Knead for 5-10 minutes, or until it is no longer sticky and forms a smooth ball. It should spring back if you poke it with your finger – this shows that you have developed enough gluten. Put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave to rise for at least one hour at room temperature or until doubled in size.
Roll the dough out into a large rectangle around 2cm thick and use a 9cm round cutter to cut as many circles as you can. Use a 4cm round cutter to punch a hole out of the centre of each dough circle. Re-roll the remaining dough and repeat the cutting process. Arrange on an oiled tray loosely covered with cling film and leave at room temperature for 30-45 minutes or until noticeably larger.
In a large heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil to 160°C. If the oil is too hot, the doughnuts will brown too quickly on the outside. If it is not hot enough, the dough will absorb too much oil and will be greasy. If you don’t have a thermometer, try dropping a small piece of bread into the oil – it should sizzle when it comes into contact with the oil, but takes a few minutes to brown.
Deep-fry the doughnuts in batches of two or three at a time, cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown before removing them with a slotted spoon and placing on a tray lined with kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. Don’t let the oil get too hot at any stage. I use a thermometer to monitor the oil for the whole frying process.
To make the icing, place the sugar into a bowl and mix with 2-3 tablespoons of cold water until a fairly thick paste forms. You want it to be thick enough to run off the spoon in a slow stream and not remain in a lump. Add a little more water if necessary. You can play around with the icing as you go – if it doesn’t stick to the doughnuts, add a little more water, and if it runs off the edges too quickly, add more sugar.
Divide the white icing between three bowls large enough to fit one doughnut and use a toothpick to add a tiny amount of gel food colouring to each bowl. Stir in the food colouring until you have reached the desired shade. I tend to leave one white, and colour the other two yellow and pink. If you want to create a party ring effect, place a tablespoon of each icing colour into piping bags.
Dip the doughnuts into one colour icing and wiggle them around so the top is completely coated before lifting out. Allow excess icing to drip back into the bowl, then twist the doughnut in your hand while turning it back over to get a clean edge. If you’re making party rings, pipe a few horizontal lines of icing across the doughnut then drag a toothpick through the icing to feather it. Place on a cooling rack to set.