Yesterday I was part of a group of volunteers at my son’s school who made a record (for our school or maybe there is World Record for making cannoli shells?) 2700 cannoli shells in preparation for a stall we hold annually at our local festival. It occurred to me that it has been almost a year since Lisa Michelle
of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives  challenged us to prepared cannoli. At that stage I had only been blogging for a month and had been a member of the Daring Bakers for 5 months. Since that time I have enjoyed a years worth of challenges, learnt so many techniques, made wonderful friends with other like minded people and had so much fun. Thank you to everyone who reads Marcellina in Cucina and for so many kind comments. So I didn’t exactly celebrate a “blog anniversary” but it is a milestone which when recognised makes me realise the rewards that have come my way in the past year.
Anyway, onto the main reason for this post. Our challenge this month involved deep frying as did those cannolis last year. This  make many a baker uncomfortable as we are “bakers” not “fryers” but that is the whole point of a challenge. 
The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.
Lori gave us the option to make yeast or cake doughnuts, fried or baked. The only mandatory requirement was that we were to use one of her recipes of which Lori provided four – Yeast Doughnuts,Bomboloni, Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts and Pumpkin Doughnuts. I wanted the real deal so I opted to the yeast doughnuts DEEP FRIED! Mmmmm!
Also coincidentally I had recently bought cardamom pods in order to recreate Finnish Sweet Bread and Finnish Jam Doughnuts I yearned for from my childhood. I was raised in a multicultural area where my mum befriended other women from various countries around the world and loved swapping recipes.My Italian mum became a true Finnish woman when she prepared her sweet Pulla (Finnish Bread).  Sadly, my mum passed away before I was old enough to learn from her. Though I have tried her recipe and recipes given to me by the dear Finnish ladies, I haven’t ever replicated Mum’s delicious Pulla. Mum’s Pulla was baked with love and to the child in me, the taste will never me replicated.
As wonderful as Mum’s Pulla was she never attempted Hillomunkit (Finnish Jam Doughnuts) which we children devoured at our Finnish friends birthday parties (yes, they were some birthday parties!). So here was my opportunity. Alton Browns Yeast Doughnuts seemed similar to Hillomunkit recipes I had seen. 
So the Challenge was on!     
 
Alton Browns Yeast Doughnuts:
Preparation time:
Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
Rising time – 1.5 hours total
Cooking time – 12 minutes
Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size
Ingredients
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)  I used butter
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz  I omitted this
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
Directions:
1.Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
2.Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
3.In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
4.Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
5.Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
6.Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
7.Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size
8.On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
9.Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. 
Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

 

I divided the dough in half before the first rising. Allowed it to prove and then shaped one half into doughnuts with holes as above. To the other half I added 1 tablespoon of freshly crushed cardamom seeds and allowed it to prove (rise). I cut rounds with a 2 inch cutter , plopped a small teaspoonful of raspberry jam into the centre and brush the edge with water.I topped this with another round and sealed the edges well.

With some I tried cutting a large round, plopping on the jam and then gathering up the edges to seal in the jam. Both ways worked well, though the second method was more difficult to seal.

Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
10.Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
11.Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown
12.Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.
The Hillomunkit were everything I remembered and transported me back to those parties running under the cool shade trees.

At my son’s request I glazed some of them and though the glaze never really set like I would have wanted it to, they were better than anything I have taste from the doughnut franchises popping up around our part of the world. The great thing is that I found all the varieties could be frozen successfully. Just zap in the microwave to warm when the Doughnut munchies hit!
Thank you  Lori! I enjoyed this challenge soooo much!  Check out Anakalia and Almost Bourdain for some great doughnuts and Audax for great tips on doughnut making!