THIS recipe for doughnuts comes from my Hungarian grandmother, Agnes. It is quite simply the best doughnut recipe ever, and is absolutely charged with emotion for me.
The smell of the rising dough, the hot oil, the sweet yeasty toastiness of freshly cooked doughnuts and the naughty booziness of the jam all take me right back to my early childhood.
I remember Agnes as the warm, giving woman she still is today (sadly she hasn’t cooked for a while but thank heaven she’s holding in there and keeping us all happy – cheers, Agnes!).
I remember the time my mum had a Hannukah party for 100 people and I, aged 12, made enough doughnuts for something like 1,000 people – the dough rose and rose and rose like Paddington’s dumplings and overtook the kitchen.
That same party, my mum made a giant vat of punch from another recipe which holds many memories for me.
This bowlful of punch was filled with strawberries and pineapple chunks macerated overnight in rum.
The punch vat was about the same height as the children of my mum’s guests.
The toddlers descended on what looked to them like a perfectly innocent fruit salad, scoffed all the pineapple, and ended up in a little inebriated pile on the floor.
I remember making these doughnuts at Boulevard, in San Francisco, and being lauded as a genius – and taking such delight in passing the credit on to my gran.
I went on to make them at Bocca di Lupo, and now I think about it, I should probably put them back on the menu.
Of course, this recipe won’t come loaded with these memories for you. You’ll need to make your own to go along with it. They are guaranteed to be good ones.
Makes 16 small, or four large doughnuts
■ 140ml tepid milk
■ 280g plain flour
■ 25g sugar
■ 5g dried yeast
■ 4 egg yoks (yellow corn-fed ones if possible)
■ 1 tablespoon dark rum
■ Grated zest of half a lemon
■ A tiny pinch of salt
■ 50g melted butter
■ 60g caster sugar (mixed with an optional heaped teaspoon of cinnamon power to dust)
■ 100g raspberry jam warmed with two tablespoons rum, to dip
■ Make a sponge with half of the milk, including a good pinch of the sugar, flour and yeast.
■ Leave to rise until frothy, then knead in all the remaining ingredients bar the butter. The dough is wet so it may be easiest to use a mixer on the slowest speed if you have one – otherwise work by hand in a bowl.
■ After the dough has become smooth, glossy and elastic begin to slowly add the butter.
■ Leave the dough to rise in a warm place until at least doubled in bulk, just over an hour.
■ On a well-floured surface, roll it out (quite precisely) 1cm thick, rest the dough for five minutes then cut into rounds with a pastry cutter (anywhere from 3 to 9 cm diameter as you prefer).
■ Leave these to rise, lightly covered with a fine cloth or paper towel, for half an hour to two hours – as fits your cooking schedule.
■ The doughnuts should be fried in vegetable oil at 150-160 degrees C, for about three or four minutes on each side until golden. The moderate temperature ensures they have time to cook through before going too dark, as the sugar in the dough makes it susceptible to burning.
■ Fish the doughnuts from the oil, drain on paper, and dust them in caster sugar or caster sugar mixed with cinnamon.
Bocca di Lupo, 12 Archer St, W1D 7BB
To book, call 020 7734 222; Gelupo, 7 Archer St, W1D 7AU, call 020 7287 5555