Growing up we always had spectacular Christmas breakfasts. The offerings would vary slightly from year to year, but sausage, eggs, sparkling cider, and the "red seeds" I loved so much (pomegranate arils) would usually make an appearance. It was splendid.
While these doughnuts might be a little too involved for Christmas morning, they should definitely make their way into your life at some point during this holiday season. A holiday brunch, perhaps? Or maybe just a Saturday morning project for you and your sweetheart. I can promise you that they are worth every bit of effort.
Let's get to it. I tried many a doughnut dough recipe before finding the perfect dough. The key, as much as I hate to admit it, was shortening. It gives the dough a pillow-like texture that butter cannot quite pull off. I have one tub of shortening in my pantry - reserved exclusively for doughnuts - and, considering how rarely we delve into doughnut-making, I think it is an acceptable indulgence.
This particular doughnut dough is scented with orange zest and vanilla extract.
It is then fried and covered in cinnamon sugar.
Then it is filled with homemade cranberry jelly.
Last, the doughnuts are drizzled with a vanilla bean glaze which tastes exactly like it was made by angels.
Yes, these doughnuts might require quite a few steps, but I promise that you will not regret the effort after you have taken your first bite.
The warm spices, the sweet vanilla bean, the zesty orange and tart cranberries - these doughnuts really do taste like Christmas.
Move aside cookie plates, this year it's all about doughnuts.
Fill a pitcher with chilled eggnog or a mug with hot coffee and settle in for a cozy, Christmas morning. Then, remind your husband about the no-shaking-the-presents rule because he's definitely been cheating.
The only downside to these doughnuts is that they only last about six hours. Sure, you could eat them after that, but they just won't be the same.
Sadly, that means that the task may fall upon you to eat two...or three...or possibly even four.
It is the sacrifice we bakers sometimes have to make.
Christmas doughnuts are now a thing. Next up, eggnog-custard-filled? Oh yes...
Vanilla-Orange Doughnuts with Cranberry Jelly and Vanilla Bean Glaze
makes 15 donuts / dough recipe adapted from Alton Brown
for the vanilla bean icing
1 Madagascar vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod
1 1/2 tablespoons half & half
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup confectioner's sugar
Combine vanilla bean seeds, half & half, and water in a small mixing bowl. Use a fork to slowly mix in the confectioner's sugar, until the icing is smooth.
for the cranberry jelly
12 ounces fresh cranberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup water
Combine all ingredients in a 3-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 10-15 minutes, stirring periodically, until all the berries have burst.
Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until very smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove skins. Allow the jelly to cool to room temperature.
for the doughnut dough
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F)
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of one orange
2 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
23 ounces all-purpose flour (plus extra for rolling out the dough)
1/2 gallon vegetable oil
cinnamon sugar (2 cups granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
Heat milk in a microwave-safe bowl until warm (about 100 degrees); about 3 minutes. Stir the shortening into the warm milk until melted. Allow the mixture to cool until lukewarm.*
*Cook's Note: If the milk is too hot it will kill our yeast, so it is important to show some patience here and let it really cool down.
In the meantime, use a fork to press the orange zest into the granulated sugar. This will help the orange flavor to really permeate the dough.
Pour warm water into the work bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow the yeast to sit for five minutes. Add the lukewarm milk and shortening mixture, beaten eggs, orange-sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the remaining flour. Beat on medium speed until well combined.
Switch over to the dough hook attachment and knead the mixture for 3-4 minutes; until the dough is very smooth and has started to pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will still be very loose and sticky, but resist adding more flour.
Coat a large bowl with nonstick spray and transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, dry area (I usually go for the top of my refrigerator), until doubled in size; about one hour.
While the dough is rising, prepare the cranberry jelly.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll out into a rectangle about 3/4-inch in thickness. The dough will still be very soft. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to punch out the doughnuts and place them onto floured baking sheets. You may re-roll any dough scraps to make more donuts, but only do this once so that the doughnuts will still be very tender.
Cover the baking sheets with paper towels and allow the doughnuts to proof for 30 minutes. While the doughnuts are proofing, prepare a frying station by lining two large baking sheets with paper towels and setting cooling racks on top. Prepare the vanilla bean icing.
Fit a pastry bag with a 1/4-inch tip and fill with the prepared cranberry jelly. Place the cinnamon sugar in a pie plate or shallow bowl.
Fill your deep fryer or dutch oven with 3 inches of oil and heat until the oil has reached 365 degrees F. Once the oil has come to temperature, gently drop the doughnuts into the oil, working with 1-2 at a time. Cook each doughnut about one minute on each side.
Transfer the hot doughnuts to the cinnamon sugar and toss to coat. Set them on the prepared cooling racks to cool slightly before filling them. To fill, use the narrow end of a spoon or a chopstick to punch a small hole into the center of the doughnut. Stick the end of your pastry bag into the hole and fill each doughnut with about 1 teaspoon of the jelly. If you have one of those fancy cupcake injectors, you can use that instead, just make sure the tip is not overly large.
Drizzle the doughnuts with the vanilla icing and allow to set for five minutes.
These donuts are best served within 6 hours of frying. Enjoy!