Currant Affairs (BBB December 2018)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: recipe for Baked Currant Doughnuts; rationing; sharing; late again; information about Bread Baking Babes;

Well. I’m only one day late. It’s not entirely my fault. (Actually, it is… :lalala: …one of these days I might learn to plan ahead.) If only the BBB dough had taken just 3 or 4 hours to rise – as per the recipe, I might have been on time. Still, better late than never for:

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Baked Currant Doughnuts

“Nearly eleven o’clock,” said Pooh happily. “You’re just in time for a little smackerel of something.”

BBB December 2018

We are the fortunate ones; there are so many traditional yeasted delights to bake in December: Lucia Buns, Finnish cardamom bread, Brioche Flowers, Clark’s Bread, Stollen, Panettone, Babas au Rhum, . . . And then there are the non-yeasted delights too: scones, various kinds of shortbread, vinarterta, fruitcake, chocolate bark, cherry snowballs, crescents, cheese biscuits, . . . .

And now, thanks to Pat (aka Elle), we will have currant doughnuts – baked (Yay!), rather than deep-fried – to add to our feasts as well.

Here’s how things went with making these doughnuts:

BBB Baked Currant Buns diary:

1 November 2018, 11:54am I love currants in bread! I also really like the idea of doughnuts that AREN’T deep-fried. What an excellent choice for December!

11 December 2018, 14:34 I just realized that this Sunday is the 16th! (How can that be?!) I think I’m going to make these doughnuts either tomorrow or Friday….

Being the measuring freak I am, I have once again converted the volume measures to weights. (I also added the amount for the granulated sugar, as per the instructions.)

I’m afraid I had difficulty with the salt though (Ha! You know me. I’m really a freak about measuring salt!)

From the internet, a teaspoon of table salt weighs 5.69, 6, 6.1, 6.24 OR 6.33 gm. I only found one measure for one teaspoon of Kosher Salt: 3.5 gms.
 
– me, blog from OUR kitchen | salt is salt, right?
2 teaspoons kosher salt
 
– from BBB recipe for baked currant doughnuts

Two teaspoons of kosher salt, eh? According to various searches on the internet and what kind of kosher salt is used, two teaspoons of kosher salt could weigh 6, 7, 7.5, 10, OR 11gm.

Scrolling down on Dad Cooks Dinner | Salt by Weight, there is a handy chart showing the various weights for different salt:

  • Real Salt Kosher Salt: 2tsp = 11gm
  • Morton’s Kosher Salt: 2tsp = 10gm
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt 2tsp = 7.5gm

Salt affects dough texture, making it stronger and less sticky […] Typically the amount of salt in a dough is between 1.8 and 2 percent of the amount of flour, by weight. If there is a large proportion of other ingredients, such as seeds, for which salt also enhances flavor, the percentage of salt could be a little higher.
 
– Susan, The Role of Salt in Bread, Wild Yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour (I added about another 1/2 cup in 1 tablespoon increments)
 
– from BBB recipe for baked currant doughnuts

With 375 grams – plus a possible extra 63 grams – all-purpose flour called for in the recipe, I’m thinking that 6gm or 7.5gm makes the most sense for a 1.6%-2% Baker’s Percentage of salt. I’ll probably end up using 8gm salt if I up the amount of flour the way that Elle did. (For more raving about measuring salt, please see salt is salt, right?)

12 December 2018, 14:23 Did I say I was going to doughnuts today? Ooops!!

14 December 2018, 13:09 I just mixed the dough. Slack, isn’t it? And I haven’t even added the salt and the pre-soaked currants yet!

13:41 Adding the salt and the currants was a breeze. I’m going to pretend that the slackness of the dough doesn’t matter. We’re headed out on our bikes to – already! – replace our Magic Bullet. ( :stomp: Cheap thing only lasted 7 years! :stomp: )

17:21 Oh dear. The dough doesn’t appear to have budged.

Cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 hour. Punch dough down, form into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover and let stand until billowy, 1 hour.
 
-BBB baked currant doughnuts recipe
Allow plenty of time for making the dough, […] Rising time is a little over three hours, too.
 
-Elle, in message to BBBabes

Let it stand in a warm place “until doubled in bulk, 1 hour”? Then “until billowy, 1 hour”?? “Rising time is a little over three hours”?!?

Hahahahahaha. As if. It’s already been 4 hours and I see no sign of any bubbles at all. I’m doomed. This always happens when there’s so much butter and sugar in the dough. And I even reduced the amounts of both!

I suspect we may be leaving it on the counter overnight and baking doughnuts tomorrow morning.

21:32 Virtually no movement at all! But it is a little bit puffier and it’s very very warm to the touch. There is also a quite alarming smell of possibly too much nutmeg and cinnamon – I even reduced the cinnamon too!

But something IS happening. It’s clear that the yeast isn’t dead. After some discussion, we decided to leave it overnight in the oven but because it’s so warm in there now, we’d turn the light off. If nothing much has happened by morning, we’ll just turn the light on again.

15 December 2018, 09:16 It’s billowy!! It’s billowy!! There is an added bonus that the overpowering smell of nutmeg and cinnamon has dissipated. Yay!

BBB Doughnut Dough

09:46 The doughnuts are preshaped now. Maybe we’ll be having freshly baked doughnuts for elevenses!

10:08 I had a bit of a dilemma about what to use to make the holes.

[P]ress each ball into a flat 4-inch disc. Using a 1 1/4-inch round cutter stamp out center of each disc. – BBB baked currant doughnuts recipe

BBB Doughnuts

All of our round cutters are way too big. I thought that some lovely fluted cutters would work but decided the holes would be way too small. I ended up using an eau-de-vie glass (about an inch in diameter). The doughnut holes might end up being still be too small, but I’m hoping they’ll puff out a bit. The doughnuts and their holes are now in the oven with only the light turned on. Fingers crossed that they will have “risen slightly” when I check on them.

11:02 I’ve decreed that they have “risen slightly” now. (I’m hungry….) The oven is preheating.

11:29 Wow!! Something smells fabulous! The doughnuts are half done; I just turned the trays around in the oven. And oooops!! When I say “doughnuts”, I’m using the term lightly. They have all pretty much closed up….

11:53 Well. If it were still Daylight Saving, we would be right on time for our elevenses.

Slathering melted butter on the just baked buns and holes was child’s play. Initially, I overturned them onto a saucer of sugar. That turned out to be a little annoying. So I put the buns and holes onto a large plate and scattered the sugar overtop. Once the doughnuts and holes are eaten, we’ll recycle any sugar on the plate.

We served the doughnuts with creamy goat’s cheese (T added butter and black currant jam as well) and big bowls of cafe au lait.

BBB December 2018

Wow! They taste JUST like doughnuts: the good kind of doughnuts. Even though I reduced the sugar and butter, they’re still beautifully buttery and exactly the right sweetness. They’re soft and pillowy, but not too soft or too pillowy. They’re ju-u-u-st right!

BBB December 2018

Many thanks for choosing Currant Doughnuts, Elle! This recipe is a keeper!

Here is the BBB recipe for Baked Currant Doughnuts that we were given. And here is what I did when I halved that recipe to make them:

Baked Currant Doughnuts
adapted from a recipe by Robert Jorin, of the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY

makes 6 doughnuts

  • 72gm dried currants + enough hot water to cover
  • 3gm active dry yeast
  • 25gm water (from soaking above currants) at body temperature
  • 8 gm powdered skim milk + 95gm boiling water (the full BBB recipe calls for “3/4 cup milk, warmed [173gm]”)
  • 30gm (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, plus 30gm (2 Tbsp) melted butter (the full BBB recipe calls for “1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus 4 tablespoons melted butter [for the topping]”)
  • 1 egg, room temperature (the full BBB recipe calls for “1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk”)
  • flour (the full BBB recipe calls for “3 cups all-purpose flour ([Elle] added about another 1/2 cup in 1 tablespoon increments) [375gm + 63gm]”)
       » 185gm unbleached all-purpose flour
       » 25gm 100% whole wheat flour
       » 4gm wheat germ
       » 4gm flax seed, finely ground
  • 10gm granulated sugar (the full BBB recipe calls for “[1/4 cup] granulated sugar [50gm]”)
  • scant 1gm (3/8 tsp)freshly grated nutmeg
  • 0.4gm (1/8 tsp) ground cinnamon
  • 4gm kosher salt + 10gm water (the BBB recipe adds ALL the liquid earlier and doesn’t hold off adding the salt)

Topping

  • 15gm (1 Tbsp) melted butter
  • sugar
  1. Currants: Heat cold tap water in a kettle. Put currants into a medium-sized bowl, cover them with hot water and set aside until softened – about 20 minutes. Drain the currents (save the water!) and set both aside.
  2. Activating the yeast: Put yeast and 2 tablespoons body-temperature water (use the currant water) into a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the yeast. Set aside on the counter.
  3. Mixing the dough:
    1. Butter and egg: Bring 105gm water to a boil and pour into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in powdered milk. Cut the 2 Tbsp butter into the hot milk mixture to melt. The cold butter should bring the temperature down to around body temperature. Whisk in egg and spices.
    2. Add flours, wheat germ, flax, sugar, and yeasted water to the large mixing bowl and stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon to make a rough dough. Note that the dough will be pretty slack.
  4. Kneading, adding the salt and currants:
    1. Use one hand to turn and fold the dough as if you were washing and squeezing out socks. Do this until the dough seems quite smooth – about 5 minutes. Cover with a plate and set aside in the oven with only the light turned on for 30 minutes.
    2. adding the salt and currants: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt and water into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than a horrible separated glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 20 minutes.
    3. stretching and folding the dough and adding the currants: Dump the drained currants on top of the dough and turn it by repeatedly folding the dough over onto itself into the center. Cover with a plate and leave in the oven with only the light turned on to allow the dough to double.
    4. panicking after 3 or 4 hours: Stretch and fold the dough over onto itself into the center a few more times. Try not to cry or scream too loudly at the mocking words “doubled and bulk”, “1 hour”, and “billowy” in the recipe instructions. Instead, as you’re stifling your blubbering tears, comfort yourself with the knowledge that bread wants to be bread – eventually. Cover with a plate and leave in the oven with only the light turned on to allow the dough to double when it decides on its own when it’s good and ready. (A good way to tell if the dough is reading to shape is to run your index finger under water, then poke a hole in the center of the dough. If the hole disappears immediately, the dough still need to rise. If there is a slight whooshing sound and the hole remains in place, the dough has probably over-risen. If the hole very very gradually begins to close, the dough is ready to shape.)
  5. pre-shaping: When the dough has finally doubled, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scatter a dusting of flour on the board and gently place the dough on the flour. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a sphere. Put them seam side down, well apart on the baking sheets. Cover with a clean tea towel and let spheres rest for about 10 minutes.
  6. shaping: Flour your hands lightly and press each ball down to form a “flat 4-inch disc”. Using a small round cookie cutter, punch out a hole in the center of each disc. Place the holes, well apart, on the parchment paper. There should be 6 doughnuts and 6 holes in all. Cover with a tea towel, followed by a plastic grocery bag and leave in the oven with only the light turned on for about an hour, until risen slightly.
  7. baking: Preheat the oven to 400F with the rack on the top shelf. Put the trays with the doughnuts and holes on the top shelf of the oven (to prevent burning on the bottom). Immediately turn the oven down to 375F and bake for a total of about 25 minutes, turning pans around to account for uneven oven heat. They are done “when they are golden and puffy and when the internal temperature at thickest part registers 200 degrees F”.
  8. topping: Pour some sugar onto a saucer. Brush the just-baked doughnuts and holes with melted butter and turn the buttered pieces over onto the sugared saucer.

Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with coffee. Or tea.

Notes:

Flour: The BBB recipe simply calls for all-purpose flour. I cannot stop myself from adding at least a little wheat germ, whole wheat flour and/or flax seed.

Butter and Sugar: The BBB recipe calls for considerably more butter and sugar. But, knowing from experience that these ingredients can really slow down the rise, I reduced the amounts. I doubt that it makes much difference in the final flavour. Except that our doughnuts won’t be cloyingly sweet.

Rising Time: If you are planning to bake these on the same day as mixing the dough, make sure to start early. The rise times (at least in our kitchen) are considerably longer than the times noted in the BBB recipe.

Cutter for Holes: Don’t be afraid to use a LARGE cutter to punch out the holes. The holes will close up as the doughnuts are baking. :lalala: [P]ress each ball into a flat 4-inch disc. Using a 1 1/4-inch round cutter stamp out center of each disc. – BBB baked currant doughnuts recipe

 

BBB December 2018

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Get Baking

Baked Currant Doughnuts

Pat (aka Elle) is the host of December 2018’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

While browsing through a Food and Wine Holiday Recipes book, I saw this recipe for baked currant doughnuts and decided that this would be a fine recipe for December. […] With the granulated sugar coating they also look sort of chilly or covered with frost…seasonal. You can use a different dried fruit instead of or in addition to currants, you can play around with the flour and how you treat them once they are baked, but do make them as baked donuts, preferably with holes.
 
– Pat (aka Elle), in message to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make Baked Currant Doughnuts too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the doughnuts in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 December 2018. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ December 2018 Baked Currant Doughnuts.

 

 
feed the hungryAbout Sharing

As usual, it appears we are becoming ever more complacent and/or willfully ignorant.

…let them eat cake

Of course, it’s fictional that Marie Antoinette said those words. Thinking about who exactly may have said them – and when, I’m immediately put in mind of the preface John Steinbeck wrote: “Readers seeking to identify the fictional people and places here described would do better to inspect their own communities and search their own hearts, for this book is about a large part of America today“.

But this is not about fiction. This is reality. Indeed, it is about an increasingly larger part of the world today.

Paul Taylor, executive director of Foodshare Toronto […] argues food banks have created a secondary food system for impoverished people, when what’s needed are long-term solutions to address the root causes of poverty. He believes the best way to address food security is to increase basic incomes through such measures as raising minimum wages and building more affordable housing.
 
– Duncan McCue, CBC Radio |
Food banks no solution to rising cost of groceries in Canada, argues anti-poverty advocate, 9 December 2018

Whether or not the government’s decision to cap the minimum wage and/or fuel prices are causing greater poverty, it still remains that support of the food banks is needed more than ever. It’s essential that those of us who can, must share our wealth by donating to at least one of the reputable Food Banks in our communities.

Our supermarket has a rewards program that is “unlike any other. Tailored specially for you, with exclusive events and offers on the items you buy the most. From things you need to the indulgences you love, get rewarded for being you”. I bet that there is something similar where you live.

Following our friend R’s lead, rather than using the points just for ourselves, we use them to buy our groceries BUT make note of the amount and send an equivalent amount to our local foodbank for them to use as most needed.

There are many reputable aid agencies working to help feed the chronically hungry worldwide. Here are just a few of them to help you to help others. Please look in your community for others.

 

(If you have something to add or say about stopping world hunger, please remember to post your thoughts and ideas on your blog, facebook, at work, etc. etc.)

 

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8 responses to “Currant Affairs (BBB December 2018)

  1. Karen

    I wish I had sprinkled the sugar instead of dredging. Either way, these were good, weren’t they? Nevermind the holes!

    edit: Yes, Karen, they were delicious! I’ve already forgotten the lack of holes. In fact, thinking about it, forget making the holes… I bet these could be turned into fantastic jelly busters. -Elizabeth

    Reply
  2. Kelly

    Mine was sluggish on the first rise too. I gave it 15 extra minutes and a little boost over steam for half a minute. Cheating I know, and not great for flavor development, but oh well. It hadn’t doubled that’s for sure. But I folded it and started the timer again and by the end of the second rise, it was very happy! I did use the full sugar, but only 75% of the butter.

    edit: I didn’t even bother with a second rise, Kelly. When I pushed it fractionally down around 9pm, I considered the continuation overnight as part of the 1st rise. And, if the dough hadn’t doubled by the next morning, I was planning to bake the doughnuts anyway. :stomp: -Elizabeth

    Reply
    1. ejm Post author

      Hmmm…. Now that makes me wonder if it’s the sugar or the butter that slows things down. Except I always thought that sugar would make the yeast go crazy.

      Reply
      1. Kelly

        Well since they make yeast specifically for sweet dough, it must have some effect, though many (most?) sweet doughs are also enriched with fat or eggs or milk. Hmmm. I have always tended to like less butter in a brioche dough, I think it still tastes divine, but also doesn’t stale as quickly. More like a challah but with fewer eggs. But our family has always liked egg bread so maybe that’s where my preference comes from.

        Reply
  3. Tanna

    Who needs holes when you get soft and billowy like that. Mine were too dense.
    Very lovely!

    edit: I wonder if the soft and billowy was because of the long long long rise. I was amazed when we tasted them. I confess that I was expecting the worst – I’m generally not the biggest fan of doughnuts (but then, I’ve rarely had home-made doughnuts) -Elizabeth

    Reply
  4. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    Soft and billowy indeed! Love that crumb! I’ve never made home-made doughnuts either, but I think these are a keeper.

    edit: Me too, Cathy. They remind me of the Polish jam-filled doughnuts that appear on Fat Thursday (just a few days before Mardi Gras and Pancake Tuesday). One of the Polish delis in our neighbourhood always brings in freshly baked paczki on the Thursday before Lent starts. They buns are usually filled with plums OR plum jam and they are amazing. I knew that they are deep-fried so it never occurred to me that we could make them at home. Ha! Now we can! -Elizabeth

    Reply
  5. Elle

    Great write-up as usual Elizabeth. Amazingly long time for the dough to rise, but worth it – your donuts are lovely. The lack of holes means less area for the jam to seep through. :-)

    edit: Thank you, Elle! It was indeed an insanely long time. (I had the same problem with our molasses fennel rye bread – I’m beginning to wonder if our commercial yeast is past its prime.) Good idea!! Next time we’ll be sure to make even smaller holes so that there’s no temptation at all for the jam to stray. :whee: -Elizabeth

    Reply
  6. Katie Zeller

    We get food bank ‘bags’ this time of year, to fill along with our regular shopping. It’s kept separate at check-out (we pay, of course) and there is a drop-off at the door. Simple but effective.
    Your donuts look lovely, despite being a day late…. That probably made them tastier. But I would have wanted wine with my goat cheese so we would have had them in the afternoon…. In front of the fire.

    edit: We used to buy things to put into the food bank bins at the front of the store as well, Katie. But I know the food banks need fresh produce too, so now that it’s simple to make a cash donation online, we choose that method.
     
    Wine with currant doughnuts? Oh my. But I do like the idea of being served warm currant doughnuts while sitting in front the fire. Hmmm. I may have to make more doughnuts so we can invite ourselves over to friends’ house that has a fireplace. I wonder if it’s asking too much for the fire to be lit when we arrive….
     
    -Elizabeth

    Reply

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