|Hello! Doughnuts that are delicious. But not deep fried.
A new year ritual in southern Italy, is to make zeppole, or doughnuts. They are unbelievably delicious and my aunt would make them (whatever time of year I went, because I would nag her) and lay them out on dishcloths (to soak up any excess oil) – one cloth on the bottom, one on the top. As such she built up a sort of doughnut grid system after a while. I was immensely skilful because I would take them out strategically – whilst she was frying the next batch – so that the cloth didn’t sink to reveal any tell tale dips.
By the time she discovered there were gaps, it was too late. I was gone, out into the street to play ‘fazzoletto’. Innocent, greedy, slim days, when all excess calories were worked off playing outside til long after the stars were out.
My aunt would coat hers in cinnamon sugar. I’m not sure how I feel about cinnamon. It makes me feel claustrophic sometimes, all cloying and needy.
Anyway. Years ago, I bought a mini doughnut tray from Lakeland. Don’t go looking for it now though as they discontinued it some time ago; probably because it realised that, although the tray was perfectly good, the recipe that came with it produced pretty crap little cakes. They didn’t taste like doughnuts at all, just very average tasting, round little sponge cakes that weren’t even very brown.
Nevertheless, I kept the tin, and the recipe. And today, whilst my children and I were swinging in the pod chair in the garden, I had the idea of making some more.
Except this time, I thought, I’ll cook ’em and then shallow fry them for a minute or two. And what do you know. They are brilliant. I think they’d make great little accompaniments to a home made ice cream or served with chocolate ganache you can dip them into. Although, for me, nothing beats a simple doughnut simply rolled in vanilla sugar.
If you want to try these, you can get a similar-looking tray from here. (Update note: I now have two of these Judge tins and they are better than the original one I bought from Lakeland!)
This is how you make them. They are ridiculously easy and quick, so warm the oven up the moment you decide to make them.
For 12 mini doughnuts you need:
75g plain flour
half a teaspoon of baking powder
quarter of a teaspoon of salt
55g caster sugar
60ml of milk (I used semi skimmed)
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon of olive oil
half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
Put the oven on at 160C.
Grease the mini doughnut tray. Little fingers love doing this. Let them get on with it as it’s annoying.
Mix all the ingredients together, thoroughly, then pour into the doughnut tray. The mixture will come about three quarters of the way up.
Put in the oven. Cook for fifteen minutes. Take out the incredibly unpromising, anaemic looking doughnuts. (Test they are cooked: if you press them they should spring back.)
Heat up a frying pan with some sunflower oil. You need only enough to coat the bottom, like a puddle’s depth. I have a cast iron frying pan (which I seasoned from scratch, because I am HARDCORE) so this retains the heat beautifully. Then you just fry the doughnuts, about 1-2mins per side. Put on kitchen paper and as soon as you can, throw them around some vanilla sugar.
If you eat these warm, and you should as there is nothing nicer, they will probably give you rampant indigestion.