Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lemon Rosemary Donuts with Honeymilk Glaze

I've been experimenting in the kitchen lately; building recipes from scratch and turning flavor ideas into actual donuts.  I call it Thursday Night Test Kitchen- the perfect night because Thursday is trash night and I can make all the horrible, soul crushing donut failures disappear by morning.  The "just okay" (edible donuts that are really failures in my heart) come with me to work the next day so I can collect feedback while I get rid of them.

Wow, that got negative fast.  

I have to keep reminding myself that these are experiments; that not every donut is going to instantly turn out perfect and wonderful.  Pete says I'm too hard on myself, but I say that it is good to aim high, isn't it?  Every time I scoop a cup of flour mix I expect the best to come out of it, dammit.  Otherwise I would have never created my new pride and joy: Lemon Rosemary Donuts with Honeymilk glaze.

It was a bumpy road.  The flavor came to mind when I was looking around my kitchen for ideas.  I was on a savory donut kick, and I thought a nice herb donut would do the trick and that a tart citrus would be just the right thing to round out the flavor.  So I threw it together.  It was pretty, but the texture was too heavy for my liking.  The rosemary wasn't cut fine enough, and I didn't like the feeling it left in my mouth.

Look away, I'm hideous: attempt #1 and attempt #2 respectively
The second time around the lemon was too intense and I was too heavy handed with the flour.  One thing I have learned through these experiments is that to get a lovely airy donut you must use less GF flour than you would regular wheat flour.  So attempt #2 produced some nice lemon donut shaped biscuits, which was a step backwards from attempt #1.  Ugh.  Back to the drawing board.  

Thinking back to when my baking adventures weren't so disappointing, I remembered one of my recipes: Michael Chiarello's Olive Oil Cake.  A sweet yet savory recipe, Chiarello's cake produced the same flavor and texture I was after.  So I pulled from his recipe and combined it with my tried and true old fashioned donut recipe.  I was at work when this lightbulb went off- I jotted it down on a scrap of paper and just looking at it made me feel deep down inside I created a success.  I suffered through the rest of the work day until I was finally able to run home to the test kitchen.

I used olive oil instead of butter or shortening, so the batter was wetter than the previous attempts.  So instead of rolling it out I piped the donuts out onto squares of wax paper.  I used a giant #9 french star tip, which added to the fanciness of the donut.  The moment the donuts hit the oil, I knew I'd done good.  They were so light I worried they would soak up too much oil, but one bite proved me wrong.  The endless days of sweat and tears paid off, and I could finally bring some decent donuts into work.  Thanks, Chiarello.

Lemon Rosemary Donuts with Honeymilk Glaze
(adapted from Michael Chiarello's Olive Oil Cake via Food Network)

2 1/2 cups gluten free AP flour (I suggest a rice flour/potato starch based mix)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
2 eggs, beaten until frothy
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (I used Meyer lemons)
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp orange brandy (any citrus liquor will do, this is what I had on hand)
2 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tbsp crushed anise seed
canola oil for frying

Glaze ingredients:
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbsp honey
almond milk
lemon juice or extract 


In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.  
In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and oil together until they create a sandy texture.  Add eggs, buttermilk, lemon juice, zest, brandy, rosemary, and anise seed.  Mix until combined.
Add flour mixture a little bit at a time, mixing until well combined.  Cover bowl and let dough set in the refrigerator for an hour.  
After setting, transfer dough into a piping bag.  On 4x4 squares of wax paper, pipe out donuts.
In a heavy bottomed pot, heat oil to 375 degrees, using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.  Fry the donuts two or three at a time, making sure not to crowd the pot.  Fry each side for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the donut from the oil.  Drain on a cooling rack over newspaper.  
Allow donuts to cool.

(Okay, here's where I get sloppy.  I didn't really measure out the glaze ingredients, just combined them until I got a taste and texture that I wanted.  Sorry.  Just go off my measurements of the sugar and honey, add the almond milk by the tablespoon until you get your desired texture.  I threw in the leftover lemon juice from my Meyer lemons.  If you find your glaze went too thin, add more confectioners sugar.  Easy peesy lemon squeezy, yo.)

Dip cooled donuts into glaze and return to cooling rack to dry.  



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