I’ve been on a doughnut making kick this year, in case you haven’t noticed. There is nothing better than a homemade doughnut, still hot from the fryer. Doughnuts are particularly fascinating to me, because it seems that almost every culture has a different version of sweet, fried dough. Italians have bombolini and zeppole, the Greeks have loukoumades, the Spanish have churros dunked in hot chocolate (for breakfast no less!), and do I even need to mention the varieties of doughnuts that America has given us? The list goes on and on.
Recently I mentioned the amazing Turkish delight doughnuts that we had for dessert at Maha Bar & Grill in Melbourne, and I just had to try making them at home. Luckily, the recipe had been published in Gourmet Traveller back in April, along with the amazing 12-hour lamb with green olive tabouleh that I had for my main course at the restaurant. I thought that the doughnuts could benefit from a bit more filling but I loved the candied almonds (although I used pine nuts) and the subtle rose and honey syrup.
Until last year I wasn’t a fan of Turkish delight at all, until I tried some proper homemade stuff at Perama in Petersham. Lately I can’t get enough! The dough itself is simple to prepare and only requires a 15 minute rise, unlike a normal yeast dough which can take up to two hours. The result is a very light and fluffy doughnut, but the dough is a little tricky to handle. I found an ice cream scoop was the easiest way to shape the doughnuts, taking a scoop full of dough, pressing the Turkish delight in and then sealing over the gap with my fingers.
These doughnuts aren’t meant to be perfect, so the slightly scraggly, uneven edges from where the dough hits the oil are all part of the charm. I halved this recipe, but if you’ve got a big group of friends around go ahead and make the full batch. Like most doughnuts, these taste best on the day that they’re made, preferably within minutes of coming out of the fryer! If you can’t make it to Maha, these will definitely satisfy your tastebuds, and it’s cheaper than a flight to Melbourne!
Turkish Delight Donuts
Adapted from Shane Delia at Maha (Gourmet Traveller April 2010)
• 30g pine nuts, to serve
• 300g plain flour
• 15g dried yeast
• 2 teaspoons caster sugar
• 150g rose-flavoured Turkish delight, diced into 1.5cm pieces
• Vegetable Oil, for deep drying
• 200g honey
• 1 cinnamon quil
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 50ml rosewater
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Spread pine nuts on a small oven tray and roast, shaking occasionally for 5-10 minutes, or until golden. Cool, chop coarsely and set aside.
Meanwhile, for rose syrup, combine honey, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, add rosewater, set aside to cool.
Preheat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or deep-sided saucepan to 170°C (340°F). Combine flour, yeast, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl, and gradually whisk in 350ml lukewarm water until combined and smooth, then stand in a warm place for about 15 minutes or until swollen and foamy.
Working with one piece of Turkish delight at a time, take a scoop of dough with an ice cream scoop. Press Turkish delight into the scoop and use your fingers to cover over and seal the gap. Deep fry in batches, turning occasionally until golden, about 4-6 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper and then transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with rose syrup and serve hot, sprinkled with pine nuts.