I have a soft spot for doughnuts. Doesn’t everyone? My allegiance lies with the pillowy, jam-filled variety with a light sugar coating. It has to be caster sugar as opposed to powdery icing sugar and the jam *must* be raspberry. It’s the law.
The smell of fresh doughnuts frying is like nothing else. If they bottled it, I’d wear it as perfume, leaving a faint whiff of “funfair” trailing behind me everywhere I’d go. You’d smell me coming a mile away and know I’d been around hours after I’d gone. From a purely practical point of view (and not at all a gluttonous one), this would also make me a very hard person to kidnap. I should probably stop watching so many Netflix true crime shows.
Back to doughnuts.
My vegan doughnut dough has a stretchy-smooth quality, as well as a slight sweetness which I find hopelessly irresistible once fried. Despite being made up of flour, sugar and oil, each pillowy puff is lighter than air. A combination of almond milk, lemon, yeast and baking powder give them an ethereal weightlessness that you only get when you eat them hot, as soon as they’re made. I defy anyone to spot the lack of eggs and dairy in this recipe.
In my book, no variety of cakey baked doughnut comes close to the utterly fuzzy feeling you get from eating a yeasted, fried doughnut. It of course, involves hot oil and for you to set aside a bit of therapeutic baking time but there are moments you can break away to catch up on your favourite TV show, drink wine and/or have a power nap. The results are special and not at all cake like. The dough needs to be left to rise and this is when the magic happens. Keep it in a warm place like an airing cupboard or even in the oven with just the light left on inside.
Swap almond milk for soy milk or oat milk if you want to make a nut-free version of these doughnuts — both work beautifully. Over the years I’ve realised you can add most of the ingredients to the hot milk mixture with little to no compromise on results, which makes the dough-making process much easier. There’s no adding of butter in stages involved either. Reserve the salt and baking powder and add them to the flour mixture. Once the warm-ish milk hits the flour, all of those lovely raising agents join forces to work their magic as the gluten in the flour develops through the kneading process. You can use your hands to knead the dough if you have arms of steel and the stamina to do it for 25 minutes or so. I do not have such superpowers and my stand mixer is my friend.
More ideas: You can switch the cardamom sugar for cinnamon sugar and fill these with your favourite thick vegan custard instead of jam. Or better yet, fill them with both jam and custard. I’ve done this before and I don’t want to say everyone liked me more that week, but they definitely did. Vegan lemon curd is also a noble choice of filling and it works particularly well with cardamom sugar. I have also successfully steeped my warm milk with saffron strands for a saffron flavoured doughnut and it was dreamy, like the best marriage of Indian mithai and a classic funfair doughnut. Be creative and report back with your results. I’d love to hear from you.
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