This post is brought to you by The Next Iron Chef. Last night's episode featured the secret challenge ingredient of coffee and doughnuts. Best of luck to this season's chefs!

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[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

We all know that coffee and doughnuts are a fantastic combo, but recently I was day-dreaming about coffee doughnuts, doughnuts infused with the rich flavors of coffee. It seemed like a great idea but one that I'd never seen in all of my years of doughnut eating, obviously a doughnut experiment was in order.

I started out with a basic yeasted doughnut recipe and added instant coffee to the dough, but after a moment or two of consideration I decided to incorporate two other coffee-friendly flavors—orange and cardamom. I left the dough to rest overnight and woke up the next morning looking forward to freshly made doughnuts.

After finishing the dough with egg yolks and melted butter I fired up the oil and rolled out the doughnuts. But before any frying could happen there was the matter of topping the doughnuts. I toyed with the idea of a coffee scented chocolate glaze but I was worried that it might overpower the delicate flavors of the doughnuts. In the end I opted for a simple sugar coating mixed with orange zest in the food processor.

Once my doughnuts finished cooking, I sprinkled them with the orange sugar mixture and waited until they were cool enough to taste—well, almost. The two-part dough recipe yielded doughnuts with an exceptional texture, light and incredibly fluffy. The combination of the coffee, cardamom, and orange was subtle but worked together beautifully, warm and rich with little bursts of exotic flavors.

If you have never made doughnuts at home, I highly suggest giving it a try. Watching perfectly formed doughnuts puff and brown in the fryer is thrilling. Of course the other benefit of frying your own doughnuts at home? At the end of the day, you are left with a big plate of, well, doughnuts, which is always a good thing.

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