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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts

Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts
This month's theme for #TwelveLoaves is ORANGES. The first place my mind went was to Orange Rolls. They're a family favorite and Christmas morning tradition around our house. I thought maybe I'd toy with a new recipe or put them in a different form like monkey bread (Iwasthisclosetomakingmonkeybread,really), pull-apart bread, or a swirled loaf. I went back and forth trying to make up my mind.

And then I shifted directions entirely.

You see, I found something that I'd been looking for forEVER. Sugar-coated fennel seeds. Seriously, I should have bought the small pack that I saw in the candy section when I staked temporary residence at Eataly in January. But there were just so many other things beckoning me from all around, that I forgot about them.

So, I proceeded to call all of the specialty markets and Italian deli's in town looking for some. Not only did they not carry them, they hadn't heard of them. What!? Yes, I could have ordered them from Amazon, but holy shnikeys - the shipping is insane. As I browsed the different offerings on Amazon, something finally clicked in this overloaded brain of mine. Each and every one listed was shipping from a seller with an Indian name. Hello! So, I looked to see if we had an Indian market anywhere close. Lo and behold - we do! Let's just call that amazing discovery number two.
Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts
I called. They carried them. I made the short trek to the store that had apparently been there for quite some time. It was tucked behind an Indian restaurant that I just sort of looked past every time I drove by it. It's on a road that I use for a thoroughfare. I'm always telling my kids to look up, look out the window, see what's around you! Apparently I don't take my own advice very well.

I guess the seeds are not necessarily an Italian thing like I'd thought they were. So, with my long-coveted colorful candied fennel seeds now in hand, I knew that I had to use them. Orange and fennel it was! Since they mimic sprinkles (though you wouldn't want nearly as many decorating your sweets), I wanted to make a bread with sprinkles. Doughnuts it was!

I adapted a basic cake doughnut from the Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts cookbook. They turned out pretty awesome! Flecks of orange zest run rampant throughout the cake, giving it a bright fresh orange flavor in every bite. I also added ground fennel seed, which I adore, to the dough. The mild anise-scented addition is not at all overwhelming, and entirely welcome.

Since I wanted to use the fennel seeds, I made an orange glaze to help them stick. But I decided that I also wanted some rolled in a sugar-fennel mixture. Honestly, I couldn't decide which version I liked best. The rest of the family (even those black licorice haters I call my kids) felt the same way.

Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts
These Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts are flecked throughout with orange zest and the faint, black licorice-taste of ground fennel seeds.
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Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 20 minutes (hands-on) + up to 24 hours (unattended)
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Keywords: fry bread breakfast dessert nut-free soy-free vegetarian fennel oranges doughnut

Ingredients (6-12 doughnuts + holes)
    for the doughnuts:
    • 420 grams cake flour (~3 3/4 cups) + more as needed
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
    • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • finely grated zest of 2 large oranges (heaping tablespoon)
    • 130 grams (2/3 cup) granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons shortening
    • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
    • 165 ml (2/3 cup) whole milk
    • canola or vegetable oil, for frying
    for sugar-fennel coating:
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
    for the orange glaze:
    • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1 large orange)
    • 350 grams (3 1/2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
    • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • sugar-coated fennel seeds, optional
    Set a medium-mesh sieve over a large sheet of parchment paper (or a bowl) and sift the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and ground fennel together; set aside.

    Beat together the orange zest, sugar, and shortening until sandy. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix on medium until light and thick, 1 minute or so. On low-speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk, until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough will be loose, wet, and sticky. Scrape it into a clean bowl, cover with a piece of plastic wrap that is pressed directly on the surface of the dough, and refrigerate 4-24 hours (this helps develop the flavor and makes it easier to work with).

    Clip a candy thermometer on to the side of a deep, heavy pot. Add 2-inches of oil, heat to 370° F. Line one baking sheet with a few layers of paper toweling. Set a wire rack on another.

    Make the sugar-fennel coating and/or the orange glaze right away, as you want them ready when the hot doughnuts come out of the oil. For the sugar-fennel, simply stir them together in a medium bowl until well combined. For the orange glaze, heat the orange juice in the microwave until hot. Stir in remaining ingredients until you have a smooth glaze. Set aside, you want the glaze to be warm when dipping (reheat in microwave if it cools down too much).

    Now, generously flour a work surface, scrape the dough out onto it, and pat to about 1/2-inch thickness. Keep extra flour on hand, as this dough is very wet and sticky. Flour a doughnut cutter (or two round cutters) and cut out portions. Bring extra dough back together as needed, re-pat and cut more. Once you have too little dough to cut any more doughnuts, make an extra doughnut hole or two.
    making Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts
    When the oil is up to temperature, dust excess flour from dough and carefully lower a few doughnuts or holes into the oil, being careful not to crowd them (fry in batches). Remember, this is a soft dough, so they probably won't keep their perfect round shapes. Once the doughnuts float, fry them for about 60 seconds per side, or until deep golden brown all around. Lift them out and set on the paper towel-lined tray. Wait for the oil to come back up to temperature before adding the next batch. Repeat until all the dough is fried.

    Between batches, as soon as you are able to handle the hot doughnuts, either roll them in the sugar-fennel mixture, or dip them into the warm glaze (one or both sides, it's up to you - I do both); set on the tray with the wire rack to cool. If using sugar-coated fennel seeds, scatter a few across the just-dipped glaze doughnut immediately.

    I have a pretty large doughnut cutter, ~3-1/2 inches across - this gave me 6 doughnuts. If you use a smaller one, 2 to 2-1/2 inches across, you should get a dozen.

    If you are planning on dipping half of the doughnuts in the sugar-fennel coating and half in the glaze, you'll probably want to half the recipes for those.
    Orange-Fennel Cake Doughnuts
    The #TwelveLoaves theme for April is: ORANGES! Any form of orange can be used (fresh orange juice or zest, orange marmalade, candied orange, etc), and it could be in the bread dough itself, in a glaze or icing, or both - but it must be an ingredient in the recipe. Head into your kitchen and bake some bread (yeasted, quick bread, crackers, muffins, braids, flatbreads, doughnuts, etc.) - let's have a delicious month of bread with ORANGES. Have fun and let's get baking!

    #TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Savoring Italy, and runs so smoothly thanks to the help of the lovely Renee from Magnolia Days and Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen.

    If you missed any of the beautiful breads posted last month (theme: Strawberries), be sure to drop by and check them out here!