Chris has been coming home with doughnuts every time he makes a grocery run. They seem to be his comfort food and he’s been seeking them out more during quarantine. Chris has done so much these past few months trying to plan “weekend adventures” (aka, running errands or picking up food/drinks) to keep us sane and not so stir-crazy that I felt it would be nice to treat him to some fresh homemade doughnuts.
Yeasted vs Old-Fashioned Doughnuts
While he says he loves both, I can tell Chris has an affinity towards yeasted doughnuts over old-fashioned. I’ve featured some old-fashioned doughnuts on my blog before and I honestly like making those more because there’s no yeast involved. Hence, no proofing time. Just cut and go.
Old-fashioned doughnuts, sometimes called cake doughnuts, are typically a bit denser and crumbly. The surface is usually craggy and creates those amazing super crunchy bits. There’s usually a bit of a tang as they’re often made with sour cream. They can be served glazed or plain and tend to be less sweet than their yeasted friends.
Yeast doughnuts, on the other hand, are very airy and light. Because of the proofing, the texture becomes almost chewy and pillowy. These are the types of doughnuts that are typically filled with jams or custards and glazed which can lead them to be a tad bit sweet. Think Krispy Kreme as they’re the most iconic yeast doughnuts we have in these parts.
There’s no rubric to grade these two types of doughnuts against each other as they’re drastically different in preparation. There are camps of people who are fervent fans of one over the other but I’d like to think we love all doughnuts but prefer one over another in certain settings.
Black Sesame Paste
I wanted a different flavor profile in these doughnuts and settled on black sesame as I’ve been trying to meld my Chinese heritage with foods (or cooking techniques) of my American upbringing. I made these doughnuts with a black sesame paste that I found at a local Asian grocery store. The black sesame paste can also be found it on Amazon. Black sesame paste is the star of the donut. It adds a toasty note of flavor but without too much sweetness to counter the glaze.
Before you ask, you cannot substitute tahini for sesame paste. Sesame paste is made with toasted sesame seeds whereas tahini is made with raw sesame seeds. Tahini will have a much more mild taste than sesame paste would. If you’re looking for a super robust sesame flavor, you may have to venture out for this specialty ingredient.
Or, you can do a simple ingredient swap. The doughnuts won’t have as much of a robust sesame taste but they can be made without any specialty ingredients. Instead of using black sesame paste, add 1/2 cup of black sesame seeds to a blender/food processor and process for about a minute. Also, optionally, add a drop of black food coloring to simulate that dark charcoal color in the doughnuts.
The Frying Process
Speaking of specialty items, I cannot stress more that every kitchen should have a thermometer. It’s so important to have the oil at the correct temperature to avoid under- or over-frying. When food is fried in less than optimal temperatures, the foods can absorb the oil and become super greasy. On the other hand, frying foods at too high temperatures will cause the foods to burn on the outside but stay raw on the inside.
I personally hate those thermometers that clip on the side of pots/pans. I find them in my way all the time. Not to mention I have to squint to read the dial. Instead, I use an infrared thermometer. Not an ad. Just sharing one of my favorite kitchen tools. I don’t recommend using this to take temperature of meats – you will still need a probe thermometer for that. But this is great when tempering chocolate, frying food, and doing any kind of sugar work. It also helps avoid making a mess since there’s no contact!
As usual, I try to decrease the amount of sugar in recipes because I don’t like overtly sweet foods. The glaze is already pure sugar and I think balances out the whole doughnut really well. With that said, if you have a notorious sweet tooth, feel free to increase the 1/4 cup of sugar to 1/3 cup or even 1/2 cup.
Black Sesame Glazed Doughnuts
- 1 cup milk, about 90F
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature and cubed
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, extra for dusting
- 1/4 cup black sesame paste
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup ground black sesame
- Oil for frying (I use canola oil)
- Step 1 In a stand mixer bowl, add warm milk and sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes. The mixture should become frothy.
- Step 2 Add eggs, sugar, salt, and sesame paste and whisk together.
- Step 3 Place dough hook onto the stand mixer.
- Step 4 Add flour and mix on low for about 2 minutes until the dough begins to come together.
- Step 5 Add butter one piece at a time until it’s incorporated.
- Step 6 Increase speed to medium and allow to knead for about 5 minutes.
- Step 7 Oil the inside of a large bowl and place dough into it. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to proof for 1 hour to 1.5 hours depending on ambient room temperature. Dough should have doubled in size.
- Step 8 Dust a working surface with flour.
- Step 9 Punch down dough and transfer to working surface. Roll out dough until 1/2 inch thickness.
- Step 10 Cut out rounds with a 3″ biscuit or circular cookie cutter and a 1.5″ biscuit or circular cookie cutter from the center.
- Step 11 Place cut doughnuts on a parchment lined half sheet. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel.
- Step 12 Roll the remaining dough together and allow to rest for about 10 minutes and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness and repeat with cutting out more doughnuts. Add to the half sheet to rise.
- Step 13 Proof a second time for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Step 14 In a large dutch oven pot, add 3-4 inches of oil and begin to heat over medium heat until 375F.
- Step 15 Fry each doughnut for 4 minutes total, flipping several times.
- Step 16 Place doughnut on a cooling rack to drip off excess oil and cool down completely.
- Step 17 In a large bowl, whisk all glaze ingredients together until smooth.
- Step 18 Dip doughnuts into the glaze and lift straight up. Allow excess glaze to drip off for a few seconds and then place on a cooling rack to allow glaze to set.
- Step 19 Doughnuts are best enjoyed on the same day of frying.