Get your HOT Cinnamon DONUTS!!
I really want to say doughnut rather than donut as this sinful treat really did start as a ball of dough. In fact, the spelling ‘donut’ was invented in New York, when the Display Doughnut Machine Corporation (yes, there was such a company!) abbreviated the word to make it more pronounceable by the foreigners they hoped would buy their automated doughnut making equipment.
So ‘dumbing down’ isn’t just a modern thing; it occurred in the 1920’s too.
But despite how it’s spelt, everyone loves a good doughnut; especially a freshly made, hot cinnamon doughnut; or a yeasty jam filled Berliner.
Doughnuts have a long history. One theory suggests they were invented in North America by Dutch settlers, and were referred to as a kind of oliekoek “oil cake”. The ring shape is said to have evolved in 1847, after American, Hanson Gregory, was dissatisfied with the frequency of finding a raw centre of regular doughnuts. He claimed to have punched a hole in the center of dough with a tin pepper-box, and later taught the technique to his mother.
As a kid, I remember a shop at a local shopping centre where there was an automated doughnut machine in the window. You could stand outside and pass the time watching the endless production line of doughnuts. They would extrude into the fryer, get flipped, leave the fryer, travel up and down conveyers, (chitty chitty bang bang style), be dusted with cinnamon sugar and be collected by the shop lady, who never had a smile on her face. HOW could that be?? Perhaps she was sick of cleaning little-people-finger-marks and saliva from the glass window!
We didn’t go to this shopping centre* very often, and believe me it was ALWAYS the highlight of the trip. Hot jam doughnuts are a unique aspect of Australian culture, especially in Melbourne and the Queen Victoria Market, where they remain a tradition today. Jam doughnuts are similar to a Berliner, but are served hot with red jam (raspberry or strawberry) injected into the bun after it is deep-fried and then frosted in granulated sugar. In South Australia, they are known as Berliner or Kitchener buns.
In my twenties, it was common to see mobile vans making doughnuts, traditional or jam, parked on the side of the road, with a queue of excited people snaking from it. A good van would cause traffic chaos, perhaps why that’s why we don’t see them anymore!
Fried pieces of dough are a global fascination. Tell me a culture that doesn’t have its own variation. From Indian jalebi to Malaysian Kuih keria, from South African koeksister, to the German Berliner. And of course there is the French beignet, the Greek loukoumas and Spanish churros. Another favourite is the Italian variant is the custard-filled doughnut called bomboloni.
Some might disagree, but I think that true doughnuts have been bastardised by popular chain shops, cashing in on fashion & prestige.
Not mentioning any names; Donut King, Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, they are the McDonalds of doughnuts. But there is a resurgence of artisan shops peeping its doughnut head, but few who do gluten-free!
There has been lots of doughnut recipe development in this household, and none quite so demanding as the humble doughnut. Getting a gluten-free rendition was not so difficult as was working out a vegan counterpart (Eggs do lighten the texture – especially when working with gluten-free flours). The flour will influence the outcome greatly. I mucked around with various combinations of flour and starch and in the end, could not improve on the result that I got from a purchased one – Orgran. So after having tested this recipe at least a hundred thousand times, I never want to see a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, vegan doughnut again. ….. Or for at least a week!!
If you are averse to deep-frying, stop reading now. There is no comparison to a baked doughnut and a fried one. None. Nada. Zilch. A baked doughnut would require a whole different recipe with more fat, more protein and more sugar. I shallow fried mine in a mix of coconut and light olive oil that was about 2 cm deep. I piped the mix directly into the pan, which is a bit tricky but provided you don’t have the oil too hot, not too difficult.
Milk does make a difference too. Dairy milk and home-made nut milk produced near identical results. Win!
I have added a little besan flour to the mix for both protein and colour. Depending on your flour, the doughnuts can end up being a little ‘ricey’ without it. You can try buckwheat or sorghum but I think that besan works the best. Also, refrain from eating them too hot – this can impact on the texture too – and also burn your tongue!! The addition of potato starch will make the doughnuts more tender but if you don’t have it, just use some more gluten-free flour.
Now GO FOR IT!
PS. Resting the mix does improve on the texture too, so don’t skip this step.
150g almond milk (or any homemade nut milk)
10g olive oil
pinch each of cinnamon & salt
10g sugar or a few drops of stevia
100g gluten-free flour (I used this one)
20g besan flour
10g potato starch
1 teas baking powder
½ teas apple cider vinegar
Oil to fry – (light olive oil, coconut oil, peanut oil or a mix)
70g caster sugar
70g Natvia* (optional, use 140g sugar if preferred)
1 teas cinnamon
Mix all of the ingredients well and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
The mix should be quite thick and firm and be able to hold itself up. Add a little extra milk if it is too thick. Gently spoon it into a zip lock bag and snip a 1.5cm corner off for piping. Try not to squash the air out of it.
I have used minimal sugar in the mix as the coating of sugar is plenty. I prefer to use stevia here. This also ensures that they don’t brown too quickly either, resulting in a raw middle.
In a shallow bowl, mix the sugars together and set aside.
Heat the oil in a small frying pan to medium heat and pipe a ring of batter into the middle. Keep a maximum of three in the pan. It doesn’t matter if they are wonky. Fry until lightly golden – the oil will be the correct temperature if they take about 45 seconds per side to cook. (My thermometer broke so I couldn’t measure the temperature.) Drain on paper towel and dredge in cinnamon sugar.
Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Must be eaten on the day – they are not so appealing cold…
*Chadstone Shopping centre, Victoria, pre-renovation in the early 70’s.