January should be a time to be looking forward, not back. The reality of what can feel like the epicentre of winter blues can sadly set the wheels of many into a doom and gloom downward spiral. So why, may I ask, is this also the time of year when we are expected to embrace faddy diets and deny the few things we have left to enjoy in our lives? (cue the detox word) Well, yuk quite frankly.
This is why I have decided to start a petition. I’m joking. However, I am going to endorse a separate way of thinking. A simple equation that involves enjoying a little bit of what you fancy…when you fancy! At this time of year, sometimes all we crave is a steaming, nourishing bowl of earthy soup, or perhaps the kind of food that evokes happy childhood memories (for me this can involve a bubbling and hearty beef bourguignon or buttery leek and bacon lardon-studded macaroni cheese. Tick) Other times, it can be when you’re really in need of something that offers a big pillowy hug of a sweet glistening casing infused with creamy, citrus goodness. A guaranteed sparkle of happiness, if you will, when everything else feels just a bit hard. And let’s not be shy about this, it’s practically impossible to resist a freshly-made doughnut, especially when it’s for such a worthy cause. And so on that note, go forth and embrace the start of good things to come. Happy new January!
Pillowy-Soft Doughnuts with Lemon Curd
These are best eaten on the day they are made. Feel free to substitute the lemon with another citrus fruit; orange works perfectly too.
Makes about 15
Prep 40 minutes, plus proving
Cook 50 minutes
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for coating
50g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
340g plain flour (gluten-free available), plus extra for kneading
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
300ml vegetable oil
For the lemon curd
zest and juice (50ml) of 2/3 lemons
pinch of sea salt
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, melted
2 large free-range egg yolks
1. Warm the milk in a pan until just before it reaches boiling point. Place the yeast, milk, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 ½ tbsp lukewarm water in a large bowl and set aside in a warm place for about 10 minutes, or until bubbles appear on the surface.
2. Add the butter, flour, eggs and the remaining sugar to the yeast mixture and mix to a sticky dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and it feels springy to the touch.
3. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
4. Meanwhile, make the lemon curd. Put all the ingredients in a bowl, stir together, and set over a pan of simmering water (the bowl must not touch the water). Using a wooden spoon, stir for about 30 minutes, or until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Set aside to cool.
5. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Roll out to 1cm thick and use a 6.5cm round cutter to stamp out rounds until all the dough has been used. Place the rounds on a lined baking tray and set aside for 30 minutes or until risen.
6. Heat the oil in a large pan until it reaches 190C, or a cube of bread sizzles and turns golden in 30 seconds. Fry the dough balls in batches for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, turning halfway. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain onto kitchen paper. Toss in the sugar and leave to cool.
7. Spoon the lemon curd into a piping bag with a small round nozzle (or snip the end of a disposable bag). Use a wooden skewer to make a hole in the side of each doughnut. Push the piping bag into the hole and fill with about a teaspoon of curd. Serve warm or cold with any leftover curd.
Recipe, styling & photography: Natalie Seldon
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