It’s technically spring, so despite the weather, we’re rolling with it. Last week, we introduced a series of honest spring recipe collaborations with Sweets & Bitters. What makes these recipes “honest,” you ask? With ingredients like beets, citrus, cheese and green tea, these recipes celebrate what’s actually in season during this early spring window. See you soon, ramps.
This week, we’re harnessing our preserve-making powers to savor a favorite warm weather ingredient: blueberries. The chilliest months of the year are when we most appreciate our summer canning efforts and if you put back a few berries (or at least have a preferred store brand), then now’s the time to crack open those jars.
Sure, you could simply spread a smear on your toast. If you want to take your preserves into less-charted territory though, you can also pipe the jam into plump homemade doughnuts. And it’s not as challenging as it might seem.
These doughnuts are bready and almost savory, with a hint of summer sweetness from the blueberry jam. Preparation is easier than you might think; prepare the dough on a Friday night and you can serve these for brunch on Saturday morning. Once you get the hang of the frying, you’ll have fun watching them sizzle and transform into a deep golden brown.
Blueberry jam brioche doughnuts
Yields 8-12 doughnuts
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon yeast
3 eggs, plus 1 yolk
3 ½ cups flour, more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces butter, room temperature
Safflower oil, for frying
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon sugar
Blueberry jam for serving or filling
Preparing the dough
1. Make the dough the night before you plan to have doughnuts. Be sure you’ve set out your butter to allow it to soften at room temperature. Heat the milk so it is barely warm (if it is too warm it will kill the yeast). In your mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast before adding the honey. Beat the eggs and yolk, and then add them to the milk mixture.
2. Measure the flour by fluffing and then scooping it, or spooning it into the measuring cup; you don’t want it packed. Mixing with a dough hook, gradually add the flour to the wet ingredients. Sprinkle in the salt. Mix on medium speed for at least 15 minutes, or until the dough is one smooth mass and somewhat shiny.
3. Mixing on low speed, add a spoonful of butter at a time (it should be soft enough to spoon). Allow each piece to incorporate before adding the next. When all the butter is worked in, continue to mix with the dough hook for about five more minutes, or until the dough is glossy, smooth and cohesive.
4. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Stretch and pat it into a rectangle, then fold it in thirds like a letter. Turn the dough and fold it in thirds the other way. Return it to the bowl, seam side down. Cover the bowl with damp dishtowel, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for about an hour; a finger pressed into the dough should leave an indentation.
5. Repeat the process of stretching and folding the dough. Return it to the bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Making the doughnuts
1. About 2 hours before you want to have your doughnuts, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately ½-inch thick. Using a circle cookie-cutter or a glass (about 2 inches in diameter), cut out as many circles as you can. (Scraps can be pressed together and rolled out again, but the resulting doughnuts will be a different quality). Place the circles about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cover them loosely with plastic wrap of parchment and allow to rise for an hour or a little more, or until they double in height.
2. Fill a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot with about 3 inches of oil. The pot should have at least a few inches of headroom above the oil. Heat the oil gradually over medium-heat. Set a cooling rack (or several layers of paper towel) over a baking sheet. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside. You’ll want the oil to maintain a temperature of 350 degrees; when it’s just over that, you are ready to fry. (If you don’t have a candy/deep-fry thermometer, this will take some trial and error).
3. Place one or two doughnuts in the oil. They should sizzle and bubble immediately. Flip them after about 30 seconds. Continue to flip the doughnuts, frying each for about 2–3 minutes, until deep golden brown. Drain them on the cooling rack or paper towels for a few minutes, and then toss them in the bowl of cinnamon sugar. Return the finished doughnuts to the first cookie sheet. Continue to fry the doughnuts in batches, adjusting the heat so the oil stays at 350 degrees and the doughnuts take 2–3 minutes to cook.
4. Blueberry jam can be piped into the doughnuts using a pastry bag (poke it in from the side), or served alongside them. Serve right away, or at least during the same day.
Photo credit: Lauren Colchamiro