Thursday, May 16, 2013

Brown Sugar Maple Pecan Donuts

Homemade brown sugar maple pecan doughnuts
Brown sugar adds deeper, richer lovin' to the maple icing
I love bacon as much as the next girl, but I have to wonder if the recent bacon craze is getting a little out of hand. For instance, now you can slurp a maple bacon lollipop, wash it down with maple bacon tea, all while wearing your Edward Baconhands t-shirt.

I'm not saying that I'll never make a maple bacon donut, I'm just not ready to jump on that bandwagon yet. It was such a brilliant idea when it first emerged, but it's been done by everyone and now it's old hat. I would rather make a classic combination like maple pecan before I venture into the ridiculously creative. There are definitely some ridiculous ideas in my back of my head, but there's something to be said for laying a solid foundation first.

Brown sugar maple pecan donuts

I used the regular cake donut recipe from the Top Pot Doughnuts cookbook, but after making maple bars, I thought the maple icing needed to convey some deeper lovin', so this time I added some brown sugar. It was a successful experiment. Blair took them to work for his Monday morning group meeting, and he said people from other groups came directly to his desk before the meeting to swipe donuts.

Chop the pecans finely and sprinkle to avoid a mouth full of nuts

To see a technique for icing and nutting the donuts, check out this video of Paula Deen making sweet potato donuts, I just love how she ices the tops and dips them upside-down in a bowl full of nuts while cackling, "Ooops! It fell in the NUHHTSS!! Yahharhahahr!!" But as much as I love that woman, I would actually recommend chopping the pecans really small and sprinkling them on top of just-iced donuts instead of dipping them upside-down. That gives you just the right amount of pecan-hinted crunch instead of a mouth full of meaty nuts.

INGREDIENTS for 24 smallish (2.5") cake donuts

Donuts (This cake donut recipe was adapted from Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp unsalted Irish butter
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
2/3 cup whole milk
lots of canola oil for frying - enough to fill your pot 2" deep

Brown Sugar Maple Icing
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure maple extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup boiling water

Nut Topping
1 cup finely chopped pecans, y'all


  1. In a large bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp ground nutmeg. Whisk to combine and aerate and set aside for a sec while you do the next two steps.
  2. Pop on the paddle attachment to your mixer and blend the 2/3 cup sugar and 2 tbsp butter at medium speed until you have fluffy sand.
  3. Add the large egg and egg yolk and mix again on medium speed for about 1 minute.
  4. With your mixer speed turned down to low, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the whole milk. Mix until just combined.
  5. Throw the dough in a bowl, cover it with plastic and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. The dough is sticky and needs to be well chilled so you can handle it...kind of like pie crust.
  6. Once your dough is chilled, you can roll it out and start cutting some donuts! Roll to 1/2" thick and go to town with your 2.5" donut cutter. Place each donut on a floured cookie sheet but don't wait too long to fry. As the butter in the dough comes to room temperature, the donuts will get sticky and soft and they'll be harder to get into the oil without bollocksing the shape. Re-rolling the scraps and rings will get you two dozen donuts, but if you want the holes, that's cool too! Obviously, you'll just end up with fewer rings (about 18 instead of 24).
  7. Lug out your big stock pot and fill it 2” deep with canola oil, turn the heat on to medium, stick in a thermometer and wait for the oil to heat up to 370° F. Unload your dishwasher or do some other multi-tasking that keeps you in the kitchen so you can check the oil temperature frequently.
  8. Once your oil reaches 370° F, it's fry time! Using a metal spatula, lower each ring into the hot oil. The donuts will sink to the bottom at first, then pop up to the top. Cook them for 40 seconds then flip and cook the other side for 40 seconds or until the donuts are golden brown and then transfer to a wire rack.
  9. While the donuts are cooling, the last step is to make the maple icing. Put on a kettle of water to boil and while you're waiting for it to heat up, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp light corn syrup, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp pure maple extract and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in the bowl of your mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.
  10. When the water comes to a boil, dissolve 1/4 cup packed brown sugar into 1/2 cup of boiling water in a small bowl. No biggie if not all the granules dissolve, they'll add a little sugary grit to the icing, which is fine. It will emphasize the brown sugar theme!
  11. Pour the water/brown sugar solution into the mixer bowl with the powdered sugar and other icing fixings and blend on medium-high speed until smooth, scraping the powdered sugar off the sides of the bowl.
  12. When your donuts have cooled completely, dip them in the maple icing and immediately sprinkle with the finely chopped pecans. Place them on a wire rack until the icing is set and you're done!

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