First there was the doughnut, then the donut and finally one deep-fried crispy confection to rule them all, the SpudNut!
The history and love affair that our country has had with the doughnut, the deep-fried, crispy, culinary, confection has had many twists and turns. From its original spelling of doughnuts or the more common abbreviated form, donut and finally to the regional gem, spudnuts changed the game by the addition of potatoes.
Most culinary eggheads feel the Spudnut or the potato doughnut was born out of the traditional cookery of a number of ethnic groups like the Pennsylvania Dutch who loved whipping up morning cakes chock full of the previous night’s mashed potatoes. This classic method makes great use of leftovers but didn’t seem practical for a commercial endeavor. That is probably when the mashed potatoes were replaced by potato flour not only streamlining the prep process but also offering smart business peoples a way to whip up a shelf stable mix and franchise!
The SpudNutz, (my spelling ;-) doesn’t seem to have really caught on, meaning it’s far from a nationally recognized treat. That being said it has legions of believers regionally and mini chains extolling its potato-ey pleasures.
My task was not only to bring this American passion to the page but to showcase how the move from mashed potatoes to potato flour streamlining the recipe was not that dissimilar to how the sous vide technique can achieve something very similar in the process.
In most cases proofing yeast can be a time consuming task often fraught with worries, is the water too hot or too cold for the yeast and where is my damn thermometer?! What if all of the liquid ingredients were vacuum bagged along WITH the yeast then placed in a 100°F or 38°C water bath? Well I'll tell ya, the liquids all rise to the proper yeast loving temperature and all that’s left to do is simply pour the warmed mixture over your dry ingredients, blend, and your off to SpudNut heaven!
One very simple yet often overlooked key to any doughnut or SpudNut is the glaze. Sure, chocolate and vanilla icing are nice but with all of the sweetness from the sugars and the richness of the frying oil my mouth screams for something to balance it all out and fresh fruit is the key! Any fruit in season, cleaned, stemmed and seeded if necessary is the perfect foil. Simply puree the fruit with the sugar until you get a nice thick, not too thick, more like pancake batter thick glaze that you can dunk your ‘nutz in!
The colors are vibrant and the fresh fruit outrageously delicious. I took the liberty of finishing my fresh cherry glazed donut with one of my girls favorite cereals, not dissimilar to the creations I tried at Voodoo donuts in Portland, Oregon a year or so ago - crazy cool and crazy delicious!
For the SpudNutz:
• 1 1/4 cups milk, whole
• 2 packages active-dry yeast
• 1/2 cup sugar superfine or granulated, but the superfine is preferred)
• 1 large russet (baking) potato
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
• 3 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
• Peanut oil for frying (vegetable oil is okay)
1. Heat the VacMaster SV1EU to 90°C/194°F
2. Peel the potato, with it laying its side cut it lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Stack the slices and cut them again lengthwise into sticks then cut across the sticks resulting in a medium to large dice.
3. Using appropriately sized VacMaster bag(s) add the potatoes in one thin even layer and using a VacMaster suction or chamber machine vacuum seal the potatoes.
4. Gently place into the SV1EU water bath and cook for 45 minutes and up to 1 hour or as necessary until the potatoes are extremely tender and easily crushed by your finger.
5. Carefully remove the hot potatoes from the bag and immediately push through potato ricer or food mill evenly spreading the potatoes onto parchment lined baking sheet(s) taking extra care not to compact them.
6. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled inside and out and repeat with any remaining potatoes, reserve
7. Heat the VacMaster SV1EU to 38°C/100°F
8. Using the VacMaster Bag Filler and an appropriate sized VacMaster bag add the milk, sugar, butter and eggs.
9. Sprinkle the yeast to disperse it as best you can.
10. Using a VacMaster chamber machine vacuum seal the mixture.
11. As milk expands during the vacuum process keep your eye on the level of the mixture and be prepared to hit the stop or seal button if the mixture gets too close to the seal bar.
12. Gently place the bag in the SV1EU and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the yeast begins to bloom.
13. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the dough hook, add the flour, mace, nutmeg and the riced potatoes.
14. Gently blend on low for 30 seconds or so to roughly combine.
15. With the motor still running slowly add the milk yeast mixture, until a stiff dough forms and continue kneading until smooth and elastic.
16. Remove dough to a greased bowl, covered with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
17. Punch the dough down and turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll to 1/2 inch thickness.
18. Cut the dough with a floured donut cutter or biscuit cutter.
19. Gently cover and let the donuts rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
20. Fill and heat a deep fryer according to the manufacturer’s directions or using a skillet or pot fill with 2 inches of oil to 375 degrees.
21. Fry the donuts in batches (don't overcrowd the pan), carefully flipping as needed until golden brown on both sides.
22. Drain a paper towel lined plate.
For the fresh fruit glaze:
• 1/2 cup fresh fruit, blackberries, cherries, blueberries etc., cleaned, stemmed and pitted if necessary
• 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
For the glaze:
1. Using a bar blender or immersion blender puree your fruit with the sugar until thoroughly blended and thick and place in a wide mouth bowl.
1. Dunk the warm donuts deeply into the glaze.
2. Let sit for 5 minutes to set.
3. Serve immediately.