Afternoon Life Savers
I finally found some time to read through the new food magazine from SBS, Feast. It included a feature on doughnuts of the world that instantly reminded of the little doughnut shop on the ski-tube platform at Perisher Valley.
Every time we go on a ski trip to the Snowy Mountains, we’ll inevitably ski from Perisher to Blue Cow and return back to the car via the ski-tube at Bullocks Flat. As fellow skiers loaded up with poles, skis, gloves and boards amble on and off the train at the mid-way point that is Perisher, there is the opportunity only achieved with utmost precision planning that allows you to get off the train, dash to the counter of the doughnut shop on the platform, receive your bagged dozen of mini doughnuts as you throw them a fiver and then sprint back to the train just as the doors close shut.
Our little crew will cheer and then huddle around the courier to breathe in the sweet scent of cinnamon sugar that fills the damp carriage as other weary passengers look on in envy. The bag is passed around the group as each person takes out a warm, golden doughnut. The joy of simple pleasure takes over as it’s quickly gobbled up and the bag goes on for another pass around. For a moment the exhaustion felt from a day of skiing through gum trees and gulleys dissipates. We alight at the end of the line and trudge to the car, remembering that our journey has not ended – there’s still the drive back to Jindabyne. It’ll be a little while longer before we can finally fully relax under a hot shower and then in a lounge chair in front of a fire back at the hotel. Those little doughnuts act like a little life preserver, keeping us buoyed for the final leg home.
I’ve been pulling some favours from some very helpful people lately. While many of them would think nothing of it, there’s nothing worse than that niggling feeling of wanting to do something in return, but not being sure exactly what that could be. When I saw the recipe for Portuguese Doughnuts I had an idea to make up a batch and courier them to these wonderfully helpful friends and drop them off around afternoon tea time – just when they’ll need a little pick-me-up.
Portuguese Doughnuts (Bola de Berlim)
2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
75g caster sugar
125ml lukewarm milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
500g plain flour
vegetable oil, to deep fry
40g plain flour
80g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
½ vanilla bean, sliced lengthways
To make the crème pâtissière, using an electric mixer, beat the flour, sugar and egg yolks until think and pale (about 8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, place the milk and vanilla bean in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk the milk into the flour mixture until well combined. Remove the vanilla bean. Transfer to a clean saucepan, place over a low-medium heat and whisk constantly for 5 minutes or until thick, taking care it doesn’t burn on the base of the saucepan. Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Set aside to cool.
Place yeast, sugar, milk and 60ml lukewarm water in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles. Add eggs and butter and stir until combined.
Place flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour yeast mixture into a well and mix until combined. Knead dough in a mixer with a dough hook attachment until smooth, elastic and very soft (about 2 minutes) or by hand on a lightly floured surface (about 5 minutes). Lightly dust with flour, then transfer to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a draught-free place for one hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Line two trays with baking paper, then dust lightly with flour. Punch down the dough, knead gently and divide into 12 evenly sized balls. Place on trays and leave to rise without touching. Dust with flour and cover with greased plastic wrap, then a tea towel. Set aside for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
Fill a deep fryer or large saucepan one-third full with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat to 170C. Working in batches, gently drop balls into oil and deep-fry, turning halfway, for 4-minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Set aside. Make sure the oil does not exceed 170C otherwise you will end up with a doughnut very dark in colour.
Using a sharp knife, make a horizontal incision in each doughnut, taking care not to cut all the way through. Toss doughnuts in extra sugar to coast them, then spoon 2 tablespoons of crème pâtissière into each one. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Feast.Share this on: