Monday, March 30, 2015

Maple Bacon Donuts

I'll start out by admitting that I've never had the famous maple bacon donuts from Voodoo Donuts that everyone has raved about for years. When I was a meat eater, it was low on my list of flavor priorities for donuts. I'm more of a cinnamon sugar or mint chocolate kind of guy. Strangely, it wasn't until after I went vegan that I started to wonder what they tasted like. Maybe it's the part of me that loves a challenge. Either way, these things are delicious.

These donuts may look complicated, but they're not. Don't be intimidated. The dough making and frying are the hardest part. They're admittedly time-consuming, but well worth the time and effort. If you want to impress an omnivore who thinks you eat nothing but kale, this is the way to do it.

The bacon recipe is from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's wonderful book, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. This stuff is easy to make and comes very close to the real thing, in both flavor and texture. It makes next-level BLTs as well. You can find the coconut flakes in the bulk section of most grocery stores. You're looking for the unsweetened, bigger kind. Some stores have the shredded coconut, which doesn't work well for this (trust me, I've tried).

For the donuts:
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup evaporated cane sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
4 tbsp Ener-G egg replacer
1 tsp salt
1/4 canola oil
2 quarts vegetable oil (or other neutral oil), for frying

For the maple icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
5-6 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp maple extract

For the bacon: 
2 tbsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp water
3 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the bacon: Do this first, because you may need the oven space for raising the donuts. In a large bowl, mix together the water, liquid smoke, tamari and maple syrup. Put the coconut flakes into the bowl and stir them around until they're well coated and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Pour them out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 25 minutes. Stir them around after 10 minutes and then again every 5 minutes while they're baking. By the end, they'll be crispy and browned up and the whole house will smell like bacon. Once they're done, set them aside to cool.

Make the dough: Pour the water into a bowl, then add the yeast and half the sugar. Stir it around a bit and then let it sit for 15 minutes. The yeast should bloom out like this:

Mix the flour, egg replacer salt and remaining sugar together in a large bowl. Add the oil and mix it in. Pour the yeast mixture in and stir it around with a sturdy wooden spoon. You could also attack it with floured hands, but be warned: it'll still be a mess at this point. Once it's kind of holding together, you can dump it out on a floured surface and knead it there as well. Work it around until it's smooth and holds together. Shape it into a ball, put it back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a towel and set it aside to raise for 1 hour. If your kitchen is cold, preheat your oven to 200, turn it off for a bit, and put the bowl in the oven.

After an hour, the dough should be raised, puffy and somewhat sticky. Punch it down, scrape it out onto a floured surface and knead it a bit. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out flat to 1/2 inch thickness. Use a donut cutter or wide-mouth glass to cut the shapes out. Place them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and set aside to raise again for 45 minutes. The oven is another convenient, out-of-the-way spot for them this time as well.

While that's going on, you make your icing and get your frying station all set up and ready to go.

Make the maple icing: In a medium bowl, mix the powdered sugar, maple syrup and maple extract with a whisk.

If you have a deep fryer, add the oil and set the temperature for 375 degrees. If you're frying on the stovetop, use a deep, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the oil and turn the heat up to medium high. Don't go higher than that initially, because you want the heat to be around 375. You can always turn it up, but it takes time to bring the oil back down once it's gone beyond that.

Once you're ready to start, carefully drop 2-3 donuts into the oil. Let them cook 3-4 minutes, checking the undersides to see if they're browning. Once they're done, flip them over and cook the other side.

After they've cooked completely, remove the donuts from the oil and set them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. When they're cool enough to handle, dip them into the icing and twist them around while you're pulling them out. They should be totally covered on top. Set them on a rack or a plate and sprinkle them with bacon bits. Repeat until you have this:

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