Baked Sweet Potato Doughnuts (vegan) + Book Launch

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It has happened!!

It would be very hard to condense a bunch of profound emotions and thought trails into a single blogpost, and it doesn’t exactly help that even I haven’t properly digested the fact that something I wrote has been published and is available online for the whole world to see and buy. Yeah. CRUMBS, the book I’ve spent a substantial chunk of summer intensely working on, is now available on Amazon and Barnes &Noble! This is madness. This is redunkulous. You know it’s big when I use exclamation marks in blogposts, ha.

From my heart to your heart, from my kitchen to your table, from my oven to your oven. This is madness. There are over 40 pages of recipes, with multiple variations and detailed descriptions. Most have been modified from various sources, trimmed and personalised over more than 2 years of playing around with iPhone in hand, flour on my face, hopping about like a lunatic from oven to study desk just to check to check on a loaf of banana bread. All kept me going. Putting the book together has elucidated the nurturing, enlightening nature of solo fun in the kitchen, and I give a more personal account of my intentions and motivation regarding the writing process and recipe themes in the book itself. I am so grateful; none of this could ever have happened without a few key people who pushed me to do so regardless of what I thought. No, I always said. But the will emerged on top, and Crumbs was born. Watch out for a few more posts highlighting some book features and sneak-peeks. I mean, this blog itself is already a huge sneak peek, but there are some recipes in there that have been heavily revised and boosted for the book, for all of you.

A little present today, that’s by no means in Crumbs, but one so easy it deserves a place in the archives and not hurriedly scribbled in my notebook, inevitably forgotten and totally left behind.

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Vegan sweet potato doughnuts. I laugh at the thought of me a few years ago, cursing the word ‘vegan’ and anything to do with that category, always of the opinion that ‘such’ self-imposed, rigid health standards did no one good, oblivious to the ethical and moral reasons behind the movement. After watching too many a documentary and educating myself only years later, I now admire the tenacity in word-spreading and lifestyle change, not talk alone. There is indeed justified meaning behind all this buckwheat, sweet potato, corn and quinoa. Not only is all of it delicious, it’s also good for us, the planet and, heck, the future. There will always be so much controversy in this field, but that’s human nature for you, and where’s the harm in contributing that little bit for generations to come?

Alright, the condensed milk icing on top obviously isn’t vegan, though you can always leave that little bit, and mix some nut milk and icing sugar together for a similar effect. As always, super easy to put together– literally a matter of plopping wet with dry, mix mix mix, spoon into doughnut pan (something I think you all should invest in if you haven’t already, for the luxury of quick doughnuts without the guilt of pouring litres of oil into a huge vat just to fry some for a few guests, though of course that’s also perfectly acceptable and I should indeed get round to listening to my own advice once in a while.)

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Definitely not your typical cakey baked doughnut, but just as delicious, especially if you’re into the whole chewy-gooey groove. Chewy-edged, tender and sweet in the middle. Imagine biting into a chewy date bar, but this time you get the characteristic sweet potato flavour, caramelised and starchy. Yessss.

Vegan Sweet Potato Doughnuts (with a not-so-vegan glaze if you wish)

Ingredients

1 medium sweet potato  (a Japanese yam works well too, you will simply get a different colour result)

125g flour (I used a mix of plain and gluten-free, though you could use either or)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

50g coconut sugar (or use plain white/brown)

100ml coconut, nut (almond, cashew) or rice milk

2 tbsp coconut oil

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 200C and roast your sweet potato until tender, around half an hour. Leave the oven on but turn the temperature down to 177C after the sweet potato is done. Place the sweet potato in a bowl and mash it with the milk, salt and coconut oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar. Tip the wet mix into the dry and mix until you get a fairly thick but moist consistency, Add drops of milk until you get to this stage if your mixture is too dry.

Bake for 12 minutes. There will be no obvious browning because there’s no typical Maillard reaction going on– the milk and sugars used in this vegan recipe don’t produce the same effect, and the colour of the sweet potato is rather overpowering. Leave to cool for two minutes before icing; as said before you can use a mix of nut milk and icing sugar before topping with flaked almonds (I like the texture variation with that shy crunch), or make like me and dip in condensed milk before the nut splatter.

Hot Cross Cookie Butter Baked Doughnuts

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No, it’s not a traditional hot cross bun, even though it should be, even though most of you probably think I should stop taking shortcuts…? Yeah, something labelled ‘hot cross’ should be in line with tradition, but I don’t think the 1916 Easter uprising in Ireland, or the fact that speculoos biscuits are traditionally eaten in the Netherlands before St. Nicholas’ feast, affected my decision to make something easy, fun, and absolutely yum.

It was solid instinct, in the light of a recent family reunion, that drove me in this direction. Finally getting to see family after what seemed to be forever was enticing, and with my doughnut pan hauled all the way from Singapore just for me, memories of the first time I made baked doughnuts triggered the oven fun.

Speculoos (cookie butter) chocolate-filled baked doughnuts with a speculoos frosting and cream cheese ‘cross’. Lezzgo.

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The best bit of the recipe? Chucking the cookie butter into the microwave, then oohing at the melted, gooey mess before you. This is the gold of the recipe, what will send you over the edge as you mix the wet into the dry mix and bring everything together into the second round of fun gloopy mess.

So you make these doughnuts, then pour more gold on top. Golden, sweet and glistening. You get the rich, chimerical flavour of cookie butter inside and on the outside.

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There wasn’t a fluffier, more tender belly. There is some chopped chocolate in there because I thought why the hell not, but that’s optional, and if you wish you could chuck in some nuts and raisins (I didn’t because I was giving quite a few of these to some people who didn’t like either). So customise it, love it, make it again.

Speculoos is made with cinnamon and nutmeg, so the additional incorporation of those components in this recipe really enhances that natural flavour, and it does make me think of Easter. Full of spice and lots of warmth.

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Hot Cross Cookie Butter Baked Doughnuts (makes 8 doughnuts, adapted from here)

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

158g (slightly more than 1 1/4 cups) all purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

50g chopped chocolate (optional)

75g (1/3 cup) white sugar

1 egg

15g (1 tbsp) butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk

3tbsp + 8 tbsp (1/2 cup) speculoos cookie butter spread (3 tbsp for the doughnuts, 1/2 cup for the top

 

For the cream cheese cross:

5 tbsp cream cheese spread (or take some off a block, that works fine too), microwaved until softened

1 tbsp milk

3 tbsp icing sugar

 

Directions

Butter or grease a 6 or 8-doughnut pan (use the 6-doughnut one twice for this batch, of course) and set aside. Preheat your oven to 177C (350F).

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the chocolate.

In another microwave-safe bowl, add the one tablespoon of butter, half cup milk and 3 tbsp of speculoos spread, and microwave on high for 20 seconds, just until butter has melted. Leave to cool for a minute, then whisk in the egg and vanilla extract.

Pour the wet into the dry ingredients, and mix until everything is just combined. Pipe batter, or use two tablespoon measurements, into your greased doughnut pan. Bake for 8-9 minutes, no more no less. A wooden skewer inserted into the middle of one should emerge clean, but the doughnut should still feel soft and bouncy to touch.

While they’re baking, melt the rest of the speculoos spread in one bowl, and mix the ingredients for the cream cheese crosses in another. Put the cream cheese mix into a ziploc bag and snip off the end, in such a way that piping the cream cheese would have a flat ribbon effect, not a tube. I find it gives a more aesthetically pleasing result.

Once baked, remove doughnuts from the oven, let cool for a while and then dip into freshly melted speculoos spread. Don’t melt the spread too far ahead, else it will harden and it will be more difficult to dip into. Tip: dip the bottom of the doughnuts, not the top (the side you see when you open the oven), for the little airy pockets on the underside will absorb more of the spread when still a bit warm. Pipe the cream cheese crosses on your doughnuts.

These can be kept for 2-3 days at room temperature, but of course they’re best eaten immediately. Enjoy with a hot cuppa.

Spiced Nutella-stuffed Matcha Baked Doughnuts

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The longest flight cannot deter me from the baking buzz. Oh, sweet, unfailing kitchen and oven!

All at once, 2015 is behind my shoulder, at the top of my head, and heavy in my heart. As I was scrolling through my old posts and reading my personal diary, I realised how important and special this little place has become to me– never did I think it would grow into such a shrine of my passion. I’ve sometimes blurred the line between personal thought (which explains the existence of my diary, something I’ve kept for 10 years and counting!) and just rambling on about cake and anything to do with sugar, but I’ve learnt to embrace that once in a while, and it’s only enhanced my excitement over writing about anything in general. With a long, hard year ahead, I’m determined to keep it close, despite all the work I know I will face during the long run.

I don’t think this post would be complete without a little more on the main inspiration behind this recipe– Japan!

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Amazing food, small kitsch gadgets, overwhelming magnanimity. If there’s a country that’s got tourism down pat, it’s the Land of the Rising Sun. Oh, and not forgetting heated toilet seats. Really. That’s always a plus.

Afterwards– a solid, foreign calm. Back to the heat, the familiarity of my favourite tiny island, though admittedly, and as a friend put it so well, it feels so weird not to be held accountable for anything anymore, then suddenly be thrust into the routine of family fun. It does require some getting used to.

The taste of Japanese food after a good 3 months without the stuff was almost a spiritual experience. Just imagine– the freshest uni possible (mildly rough texture that gives way to buttery insides, mmph), slippery, thick slices of fresh pink otoro (fatty tuna), and of course… green tea.

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Green tea kit kat, green tea mochi, green tea… everything, really. We came across so many different varieties of matcha (the finely ground powder of specially grown green tea) chocolates, in other words the main inspiration for the final product:

fluffy matcha baked doughnuts, stuffed with nutella and covered in a matcha glaze.

You see it, I see it. It’s got all the goods, and anything stuffed with chocolate/hazelnut chocolate spread is a win. Based off my previous recipe for maple bacon doughnuts (I implore you to try these at some point in your life as well), the results were lush– fluffy, cake-like doughnut base, a slight twang of sponge in there, gooey nutella in the middle, and a glaze that speaks loudly of matcha instead of simply being a sugar overload.

The addition of spice is simply my excuse for not being around during Christmas do indulge in the usual Christmas baking routine, but it adds another level of flavour that propels this simple recipe to something that much more festive. By all means, leave the spices out if you prefer a more straightforward chocolate-matcha pairing.There’s something about the pairing of the mild bitterness present in all that matcha, and rich milky hazelnut chocolate that’s unbeatable on a Sunday afternoon, coffee and book in hand. Right, let’s do this.

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Spiced Nutella-stuffed Matcha Baked Doughnuts (makes 6 doughnuts)

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

125g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

75g (1/3 cup) white sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

120ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

28g (2 tbsp) unsalted, melted butter

~1/3 jar of nutella/melted dark chocolate (the quantity is up to you)

 

For the matcha glaze:

115g icing sugar

1 tsp matcha powder

2 1/2 tbsp whole milk

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 177C and grease a doughnut pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, matcha powder and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract. (tip: it helps to have all your ingredient at room temperature for even, stress-free mixing). Tip your dry mix into the wet mix and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until everything is well combined.

Take a tablespoon of batter and place at the bottom of a doughnut mold, spreading so it coats the bottom (you don’t want too many chocolate leaks) and goes about halfway up the side. Using two teaspoons or a piping bag (or use a small ziploc bag with the tip cut off), line the middle of each doughnut with nutella/any chocolate spread or even melted chocolate. Do this 6 times for 6 doughnuts, then place the molds in the preheated oven and bake for exactly 8 minutes. I find that the shape and size of the doughnuts are perfect if you fill the molds 3/4 of the way with batter, rather than all the way. Once you take them out of the oven, the doughnuts will feel soft and tender to the touch, with a gentle rise and the gentlest browning on top. Leave them to cool on a cooling rack while you make the icing (thankfully, it doesn’t take long).

For that, simply whisk together the icing ingredients and set aside to use once the doughnuts are cool, else it will melt everywhere. After 10 minutes, remove the doughnuts from their molds,and dip one side into the bowl containing the matcha icing, then place right way up again on the cooling rack to let any excess icing drip down the sides.

Eat right away, or store in an airtight container and keep at room temperature for 1-2 days, or the fridge for up to 4 days. The sooner, the better!

Coffee and Kaya Yeasted Doughnuts

Yeasted doughnuts filled with kaya and drizzled with a strong coffee glaze. 

A tribute to one of my all-time favourite morning traditions.

In other words– butter, kaya, bread and coffee. It doesn’t get any better, or simpler, than that. Sometimes it’s butter and honey, or butter and jam, but most of the time it’s butter and kaya. It’s really common here in Singapore, where you eat butter-kaya (a pandan-flavoured spread) toast from Yakun or some hawker stall with soft-boiled eggs, all downed with smooth, creamy kopi (local coffee made with condensed milk, AKA the best drink ever alongside teh halia… ok and maybe Coke). Yes, I’m talking processed white toast, pre-cut and plasticky; sometimes I get the fancy sort from the bakery if I feel like it, but usually it’s just that and not much more. The sort of bread you would squeeze and press with glee as a kid because the degree of artificiality pretty much makes it more playdoh than bread, and I know you know what I’m talking about.

Toast.

Let the Nespresso machine kick into gear. Slather two almost-burnt slices toast with salted butter, because I like my toast that way and because salty butter is a must in my morning regime. Anything else and I feel that I’m cheating myself of flavour. Salty and sweet forever, unless I’m baking, in which case I always stick with unsalted butter and add the salt myself.

(Yes, they were spread further away from each other after this shot.)

This recipe represents this magical, true-to-local-taste flavour combination. Doughnut form. I’ve been itching to make yeasted, fried doughnuts for quite a while now, and when I got my hands on Baking Illustrated, with all the recipes tested and compiled by America’s Test Kitchen, I couldn’t wait to try their version of it. After 2 trials, a bit of tearful upsets and a lot of joyous finger-licking, I think I fell in love with the fluff and harmony of the final product. Their recipe advocates the use of vegeetable shortening instead of normal vegetable oil, and although they state that Crisco (veg shortening) yields the best result, I used canola oil in the second trial and couldn’t detect any distinct change in flavour or texture, so I doubt the change would produce a drastic difference if you used either.

This was my first time making fried doughnuts, but definitely not my last. There’s a certain ecstasy involved in replicating something so ubiquitous, yet undeniably delicious. Perhaps I’ll test the recipe again with a different flavour combination, or just anything that involves a delirious sprinkling of icing sugar after everything is done and dusted.

Coffee and Kaya Yeasted Doughnuts (makes around 16 doughnuts, adapted from Bakers Illustrated)

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

450g (around 3 cups) all-purpose flour

2 1/4 tsp (1 envelope) instant yeast

6 tbsp white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

160ml (2/3 cup) whole milk at room temperature

2 eggs, at room temperature

85g unsalted butter, at room temperature

1.1 litres (6 cups) vegetable shortening like Crisco, or vegetable oil

For the filling and glaze:

1 cup (or more) of kaya, homemade or store-bought

4 tbsp freshly brewed espresso

160g icing sugar

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and instant yeast. Set aside for the time being. In your large mixing bowl fitted with a standard dough hook, mix together the eggs and milk. You could do this in another bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer such as a KitchenAid, just make sure the bowl is larger than the one in which you put the flour, and you will have to knead the dough for a little longer later in the process.

After mixing the milk and eggs, add the flour. Mix on low speed with the dough hook until you see a ball of dough forming. At this point, take your butter and add it in 4-5 additions, mixing well into the dough between each addition. The butter should be soft, not cold and hard, to make the process easier and faster. After all the butter has been added, mix the dough for another 3 minutes. If you’re doing this by hand, knead the dough for around the same time or longer, until you get a soft, plump and pale ball of dough. Have extra flour on hand in case you need more; you should have a soft but firm ball. Not too sticky, but not too firm, either. Shape your ball (remove the slightly stickier bits from the dough hook first) into a ball if it’s not like that already, then place back in the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, around 2 hours. It should be visibly voluminous when you come back to check on it later.

After 2 hours, check on the dough– press lightly with a finger, it should feel tender but still quite firm. If not, leave for another 15 minutes. When ready, flour your work surface and tip your ball onto the counter. Take your rolling pin and flour that too, to prevent it sticking to the dough. Roll the dough out until it’s around 3/4 of an inch thick. Take a 3-inch wide circular cutter (or in my case, a scallop-edged one because I was feeling odd) and cut out circles of dough. Take the scraps left over and re-roll, then cut more circles. Place your doughnut circles onto a floured baking sheet and let rise for a half-hour more.

In the meantime, heat up your oil in a deep and wide sauce pan, or large Dutch oven. Prepare another sheet that’s lined with paper towel, so you won’t get an oily counter afterwards. Stick a candy thermometer by the side of the pan and let it heat up until 375F, or 191C. Take your risen doughnut cut-outs and place gently using a spatula or large slotted spoon into the simmering oil, 4 or 5 at a time. Wait 20 seconds for the first side, then flip to fry the other side, which will take another 20 seconds. They will be golden-brown, puffy and all moreish-looking. Place the fried doughnuts onto the paper towel. Repeat until all doughnuts are fried. Let them cool on the paper towels for at least 15 minutes before filling.

To fill, place the kaya in a piping bag, or into a large ziploc bag and cut off one corner just before filling. If using the piping bag, insert the nozzle into the side of a doughnut, and then pipe until full; the kaya will leak a little around the side if you pipe too much, too fast. If using the ziploc bag, use a knife to make a small incision at the side, before inserting the corner of the bag into the side and piping until full. To make the glaze, mix together the freshly brewed espresso and icing sugar. Dip the tops of the doughnuts into the glaze and let some drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle with chocolate curls before eating immediately, or at least on the same day.

Keep these doughnuts at room temperature for up to 2 days, else they just won’t taste fresh!

Strawberry Chocolate Vanilla Bean Baked Doughnuts

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Somewhere in between rubbing fragrant vanilla bean into sugar and popping these guys into the oven, I found myself at the beck and call of Strawberry.

Out they came, and my heart was singing. A subtle burst of tang. Gooey bursts of warm chocolate dispersed throughout the batter, little nuggets of treasure. Plump, light-as-air cakey batter to encase everything. Two bowls, whisk, an oven, done.

I was skeptical at first. Initial thoughts gravitated to classic vanilla bean with a more exotic fruity frosting, or chocolate whatnots. Some people don’t like the combination of berry and chocolate, and I get it, but I just couldn’t help myself when I saw fresh, fat strawberries sitting, beckoning in the fridge, round-butted, the promise of sweet juice pulsating under firm and uneven flesh. I thought of strawberries dipped in melted chocolate, and couldn’t get the theme out of my head. So after my good daily dose of reading and writing, I jumped up and got to work. It had to work. And I’m glad it did.

You could say the addition of vanilla bean is pompous, but goodness does it add a whole new dimension of flavour and (slight) grandeur to the whole thing. The speckles are endearing, no? It’s exotic, it’s fearless. Each little doughnut is jam-packed with bits and bobs of strawberry and chocolate, so every bite is a great deal of wonder, a different experience, a slight surprise. In between, you can savour a dandy cake-like medium, the vehicle for all those pockets of tang and sweet. A standard batter so silent and unassuming it almost feels guilt-free.

What’s a doughnut without the glaze.

The magic lies in the incorporation of puréed strawberries, without which this recipe just wouldn’t be the same. J’adore. Pink isn’t my favourite colour, and never will be, but the muted tangy notes elevate this from airy-fairy to plain wicked. Despite my not being accustomed to having real chopped fruit in a doughnut glaze, or any topping for any baked good in general, the whole experience made me realise what a difference the real deal makes.

There’s something about a simple doughnut, enjoyed alone at home or at a coffee shop with a large cup of black coffee, which makes a breakfast get-up or solitary pondering session all the more sensual. It’s homey, and pretty bad, but pretty good.

Strawberry Chocolate Vanilla Bean Baked Doughnuts (makes 16)

Ingredients

For the doughnuts:

265g (slightly less than 2 cups) all-purpose flour

170g (3/4 cup) white castor sugar

1 vanilla bean

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

60g melted, unsalted butter

180ml (3/4 cup) buttermilk, or take a tablespoonful of white vinegar and place it in the bottom of your measuring cup before filling it up to the 180ml-mark with whole milk

70g chopped dark chocolate

2 eggs

170g (1 cup) finely chopped strawberries

For the glaze:

60g (1/3 cup) strawberries, washed and finely chopped

230g icing sugar

pinch salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and butter doughnut pans with melted butter. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, chopped chocolate and salt. In a separate, slightly smaller bowl, pour in your sugar. Take a sharp knife and run it firmly down the middle of the vanilla bean, then scrape out the insides. Dump the clumps of black into the sugar. With your fingertips, rub the vanilla bean into the sugar, so most of it is evenly incorporated into the white mass. Tip the vanilla and sugar mix into the bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk everything together well, for at least 30 seconds or so.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk (or milk and vinegar mix) and melted butter. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and mix everything together slowly with a wooden spoon until just combined. The batter should be a little lumpy and slightly thick. Not in the least bit liquidy. Pat your chopped strawberries with a dry paper towel just to remove excess moisture, then stir them into the mix. Using 2 tablespoons, dollop the doughnut batter into the greased doughnut pan(s) (I only have one so I did this in batches). Bake in the preheated oven for 15-16 minutes.

While they are baking, make the glaze- no electrical beaters needed!!

Purée the chopped strawberries in a blender, or you could microwave them and then mash with a fork. Put the strawberries into a large bowl, then using a tablespoon, remove any extra liquid that seeped out. It won’t be much, and you need not remove all of the extra juice. Add half of the icing sugar first and the salt, and mix together with the same tablespoon until you get a wet, dark pink mixture. Add the rest of the icing sugar and continue to mix until you achieve a thick, spreadable consistency.

Once the doughnuts are baked, leave to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before turning them out. Once fully cool (around another 15 minutes later), dip the tops of the doughnuts into the strawberry glaze, then let them rest on the cooling rack again. Store the doughnuts in the fridge, because the glaze doesn’t sit too well in a warm environment.

Pink kinda pleasure.