Type "Field Guide" into the Amazon book search list, and you'll get, as of this typing, 39,688 results. These are the moments when we suspect the A Baker's Field Guide to Doughnuts, to be released in a few weeks, will come in handy. A little rainbow sprinkle, Boston cream, or old-fashioned buttermilk fuel to get through those endless textbook photos of reptiles, months and birds.
In the baking guidebook realm, author Dede Wilson has produced several field guides, among them a book on holiday candies, another on Christmas cookies, one devoted entirely to the chocolate chip cookie, and a new book on those single bites of cake that have become rather trendy of late (we refuse to use the term "cake balls," as it sounds like a really bad porn movie title). It seems Americans are a predictable baking bunch.
We normally wouldn't expect much more than a few cruller tips and spiced orange glaze (p. 36) ideas, given the book's parameters, but Wilson is a great baker. And in today's pastry chef bakeshop era, we should have known there would be a few revelations -- a pastry cream-filled yeast doughnut with a burnt sugar topping -- for the home baker here. Get more on the book after the jump, plus a recipe for peanut butter glaze.
The book begins with general doughnut guidelines and includes handy tips sprinkled throughout. For example, starchy potatoes such as russets work best in a potato-enhanced doughnut recipe, which Wilson proclaims her favorite plain cake-style doughnut: "crisp outside, tender and rich inside, with a slightly dense, velvety crumb." Yes, please.
Master recipes for ten doughnuts, both baked and fried -- including a "Krispy Kreme Kopycat" recipe -- get you started. In fact, you can create just about any doughnut with this book, as the basics are all here (that's what "field guide" means). Time to revisit those 10 Best Doughnuts in Los Angeles and get busy recipe testing. Spudnuts' chocolate chip, chocolate-glazed, chocolate doughnut (photo above) seems like as good a place as any to start.
From there, Wilson shows you how to turn those master recipes into apricot-cardamom sour cream doughnuts, blueberry-sour cream fritters, Grand Marnier glazed crullers and the like. As we're still in the Momofuku-inspired doughnut era, there are also recipes for grape jelly-filled doughnuts topped with a Kool-Aid glaze, a sugary breakfast cereal-topped doughnut, and of course, the ubiquitous bacon doughnut (here, maple-glazed).
Call us crazy Glazed Classicists, but the best-looking recipes are some of the more "basic" renditions, like chocolate-sour cream doughnuts, ricotta fritters, beignets and an old fashioned lard-fried doughnut. We'd be lying if we said we weren't tempted by those Nutella-filled doughnuts topped with Gianduja ganache. And we're equally partial to the peanut butter glaze on those jelly doughnuts. The perfect back-to-school excuse for a (deep-fried) breakfast PB & J.
Peanut Butter Glaze
From: A Baker's Field Guide to Doughnuts by Dede Wilson.
Makes: Enough to coat the tops of about twenty-four 3-inch doughnuts.
Note: Wilson uses this topping for jelly doughnuts; it would also be good on her chocolate yeast doughnuts (recipe here).
4 ½ cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter (such as Skippy; do not use natural)
2/3 to 1 cup whole milk
½ cup chopped peanuts (unsalted or lightly salted)
1. Place the confectioner's sugar in a large bowl.
2. In a small saucepan, heat the peanut butter with 2/3 cup of the milk over medium-low heat until the mixture is hot but not simmering. Remove from the heat and gently whisk the peanut butter into the milk so that it begins to soften - it will not dissolve into the milk, which is okay.
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3. Scrape the milk and peanut butter over the confectioner's sugar and whisk vigorously until smooth. Add the additional 1/3 cup milk only if needed to make a smooth, pourable glaze. Stir in the peanuts. You can dip the tops of your doughnuts right into the glaze or spread it on top of the doughnuts using a small offset spatula. (If the glaze drips off the doughnuts too readily, simply cool it a little before dipping.) Let the glazed doughnuts sit until the glaze sets, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
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