There are some pleasures in life that can only be described as guilty. You know they aren't great, in a technical sense, and yet, they are still so good. Among them, in my life: Beautician and the Beast, vanilla tootsie rolls, birthday cake from the grocery store bakery, Gossip Girl, and Vanilla Kreme Donuts from Dunkin' Donuts.
These super-sweet treats are a beautiful thing: rich in butter "kreme" filling, weighing about as much as a brick, and garnished with pretty rainbow sprinkles which sometimes changed colors during holiday seasons. They were my favorite as a child, and they are my favorite today. This is a sweet love which is perhaps not so guilty: it has been immortalized in love letter form, and I will proudly declare my love to anyone who asks.
And yet (proof that I am a complex person) I very much enjoy and appreciate a homespun treat, made with ingredients that I can pronounce. So I was particularly proud to have created a homemade version of the vanilla kreme donut.
It's inspired by the Dunkin' creation, but made with "eat local" sensibilities: I made my own confectioners' sugar, used local butter and eggs; I used good quality flour and sugar and fried the doughnuts myself.
The resulting rounds of dough were truly a treat: a lightly crisp exterior and ethereally light interior, which I anchored right back to earth by piping a healthy amount of rich vanilla buttercream inside each donut. Finished by dusting the works with confectioners' sugar, piping a "puff" of buttercream outside of the hole and garnishing it with rainbow sprinkles, these donuts certainly fulfill the nostalgia part of the equation, with a more nuanced, "adult" flavor which will satisfy childhood Dunkin' Donuts lovers who have grown up into foodies.
Donut stop buying the real thing (I know I won't) but please, do enjoy this tip of the hat to a favorite "fast-food" treat in homemade form.
Homemade vanilla kreme donuts
makes about 18 (printable version here!)
- 2 cups (about 8 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup (about 1.58 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- enough vegetable oil to fill a pan at least 3 inches deep
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- 3 cups vanilla buttercream
- rainbow sprinkles
- Place the flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, and butter until the butter has melted, or the mixture reaches about 105°F. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs.
- Add the wet mixture to the dry, and using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium-high, and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, five to seven minutes. It will still be somewhat sticky. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Near the end of the rising period, prepare your work area. Dust a work surface with flour, and place the dough on top. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2- or 3-inch round cutter (or even a floured drinking glass rim, or the top of a wide mouth mason jar top, as I did), cut out as many circles as you can and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps and continue cutting out circles until you've used all the dough. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap and again let them rise, this time for about 30 minutes.
- Place paper towels under a wire rack. Have it near your frying surface. This is where you'll put the doughnuts to cool off.
- It's time to get frying. Heat your oil in a large deep skillet or deep pan until it has reached 350°F. 7. Transfer the rounds a couple at a time (you don't want them crowded) and fry until browned—about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip, and remember the second side takes less time to fry. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the wire rack. Continue frying until you've finished them all.
- By the time you're done frying, the first of the fried doughnuts should be cool enough to handle. Using a chopstick, make a hole and slightly "shimmy" it without enlarging the hole too much, to make more space in the doughnut for the filling.
- Load up a piping bag with your buttercream, and pipe as much as will possibly fit in each doughnut. (You can also spoon it in if you prefer, slicing the doughnut in half and putting a layer of frosting inside, then sandwiching it. Pipe the sides to make it look pretty.) Dust with confectioners' sugar. Finish a pretty puff of buttercream with a star tip outside of the hole in which you piped, and garnish with rainbow sprinkles.
What's your favorite commercial donut?