Street lights happen to be just like moments – Doughnuts à la vanille

[Vanilla doughnuts]

It’s been raining a lot these days.

And the night has been falling late in the morning; leaving very few hours for the light to turn from golden to blue.
It feels like I’m learning to read the time again. Except, not with numbers, but colours.

I’ve been frying a lot of doughnuts these days.

In a small pan over my gas stove, and in the large deep-fryer of a kitchen made of stainless-steel and bright halogen lamps.

Some were eaten by lunchers along with a chocolate crémeux and a quenelle of banana sorbet. Or like a couple of days ago, on top of a verrine filled with chocolate crème pâtissière, yoghurt foam, and caramelised cinnamon ice-cream.

Others were eaten plain. With a maple syrup glaze and bits of bacon, or just rolled in sugar.

And believe me, warm doughnuts eaten with your fingers are the best kind. They feel like biting lips. The ones that are coated in sugar and belong to your favourite boy.

Doughnuts à la vanille
Adapted from Lara.

My way of making doughnuts certainly isn’t right. I knead the dough like I would with brioche – using this technique, which is nicely demonstrated here by Richard Bertinet. Let it rest in the fridge for one day. Then roll, cut, and fry.
Straight away. At 170°C.

Maybe I should let the doughnuts proof. But somehow, the result feels perfect and the dough so much easier to handle.
I guess it’s one of those things that will be discovered with time. And even though, a couple of kilograms of flour have already been turned into plump little doughnuts – whether at home or at work – I’m hoping I’ll find the time to experiment with yeast and sugar again.

So far, I’ve tried a couple of recipes. And this one – adapted from Lara – is my favourite. I think it might be the use of egg yolks only which gives them the perfect texture.

Doughnuts à la vanille

makes 10

100g plain flour
250g milk, at room temperature
one tsp instant yeast

180g plain flour
40g caster sugar
a pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
seeds from one vanilla bean

70g butter, at room temperature

oil, for frying
caster sugar, to coat

Place 100g of flour in a bowl along with the milk and instant yeast, mixing with a whisk. Cover loosely with a tea towel and allow to proof for 30 minutes.

Mix in all the remaining ingredients, except for the butter. The dough will feel very sticky. Transfer it to a clean work surface – ideally made of marble – and keeping your left hand clean, incorporate the diced butter as if you were digging into earth with your hands.
Then, using a scraper, get the dough back together and start kneading until it feels smooth and no longer sticky.

Lightly flour a container, place the dough inside. Dust some more flour and clingfilm to the contact. Chill overnight, up to two days.

When you’re ready, heat some vegetable oil to 170°C. Flour your work surface and place the dough on it. Punch it gently to get rid of some of the air, then roll out to 2cm. Cut into the desired shape and deep-fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until nicely brown. Drain on paper towel, then coat in caster sugar.

14 thoughts on “Street lights happen to be just like moments – Doughnuts à la vanille

  • Jessie January 16, 2011 at 8:26 am

    congratz on your new blog, fanny! happy new year :)

  • valerita January 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    congratulations for your new blog: i love your picture style (and your recipes too, obviously:)
    wish you a happy new year!

  • christelle is flabbergasting January 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Tu viens de toucher à un culino-blocage : la friture. J’essaye d’en faire le moins possible, mais pour ce genre de beignets (ou pour les épinards croustillants ou les arancini… rien à voir), j’essaye de faire des exceptions. Ils ont l’air presque aérien et pas *si gras*. T’aurais pas des trucs de pastry chef pour me débloquer (et pour qu’enfin je fasse des churros at home) ? Merci !!!

  • Clara January 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    i’ve learnt to love pastry from your blog more than i could from school. i guess you can learn a lot from passion and adorable polaroid-like photos. they just make you want to get your kitchen top full of flour and orange zest :D thank you!

  • emily January 17, 2011 at 2:03 am

    “They feel like biting lips. The ones that are coated in sugar and belong to your favourite boy.”

    I absolutely LOVE this description. Such a fantastic simile. It makes me want nothing more than warm doughnuts and kisses!

  • joey January 17, 2011 at 5:11 am

    A warm, sugar-coated, perfectly fried doughnut is indeed like a the sweet lips of a favorite boy! What a perfect, perfect description! I am always lazy to deep fry but these would make it so worth it…

  • Carlotta January 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm


  • Aïda January 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    C’est presque meme de la magie je trouve!

  • Sarah January 17, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I love your blog! I, too, am a pastry chef. Working in lovely Portland, Oregon. Every time work becomes overwhelming and frustrating, I read your blog(s) and immediately feel relaxed and am reminded of how much I love my job and why I do it. Thanks and keep baking/pastrying/writing/photographing! Inspiration!

  • saer {craven maven} February 12, 2011 at 5:23 am

    This has to be one of the best descriptions I have ever heard and felt:

    “And believe me, warm doughnuts eaten with your fingers are the best kind. They feel like biting lips. The ones that are coated in sugar and belong to your favourite boy.”

    Love it.

  • Alastair February 14, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Congratulations! This post was nominated for School of Food’s Food Post of the Month Award – and it won.—january-2011.html

  • Luciana April 19, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I’m totally doing these!!!! I haven’t had a doughnut for a while mainly because the ones in Madrid are not good. Thanks for sharing! Lovely blog :)

  • Cristina June 29, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    I made these just right now right now and I must say they are absolutely delicious. Although mine came darker then I would have liked. I need to invest in a better thermometer that’s a fact. xoxo

  • Mykelin August 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I made these as part of a doughnut comparison yesterday, and they were the undisputed winner! They were so soft, and had a delicious flavor…. thank you so much for sharing these!!!

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