Brioche Doughnuts with Caramelized Apple Compote
Every year as a kid I celebrated Chanukah with the traditions of candle lighting, traditional games, family time and feasts. My grandparents, Rabbi Judah and Martha Nadich, always hosted on the Sunday night of the holiday. They were the most amazing people, bringing happiness and joy to the community on a public level and so much love and tender care to the family on a personal level. Their Chanukah feast would include dreidel matches, other games and, of course, delicious food—latkes, homemade applesauce and sufganiyot—not to mention many other delicacies that my grandmother prepared.
As a chef, I actually don’t love fried food so much. But there are exceptions! This brioche-turned-doughnut is one of my favorite dishes and one of the most delicious approaches to making sufganiyot. Rather than have applesauce with latkes, I prefer making apple compote, a richer, more caramelized version, and then using it to fill these doughnuts. I know that if my grandmother were still alive, she would have approved of this recipe; it’s time consuming, but worth every second. Photo by Anthony Jackson.
- 7 large eggs
- 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon whole milk
- 7¼ cups King Arthur Bread Flour
- 3½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (approximately 3 packets) instant/rapid-rise yeast
- 1 pound unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened at room temperature
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar
- Neutral oil, such as canola oil, for frying
- Apple compote (recipe below) or very high-quality store-bought apple butter
- Doughnut sugar (available online) or confectioner’s sugar
- Apple Compote
- 3 pounds honeycrisp apples
- 1½ cups sugar
- Doughnuts: In the bowl of a stand mixer, hand whisk together the eggs and milk. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and yeast, reserving the sugar. Add all the dry ingredients and ¼ of the butter into the stand mixer bowl, and use the hook attachment to mix on low speed for 5 minutes, until all the ingredients are combined well. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Switch the mixer to medium speed and mix until the dough detaches from the bottom of the bowl. Then slowly add the rest of the butter piece by piece, adding more only when the dough has emulsified the butter that had been previously added.
- Finally, when all the butter is in the dough and emulsified, lower the mixer speed to low and slowly sprinkle in the sugar while mixing. When all of the sugar is added, mix on low-medium speed for 5 minutes.
- Place the dough ball in a sprayed or oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and proof in a warm, non-drafty spot for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Then place in the refrigerator overnight.
- The next day, remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface, push the dough down into a rectangle and fold the dough in half over itself. Roll out the cold dough between two pieces of parchment or waxed paper into a sheet that is an even ½ to ¾-inch thick. Use a little flour between the parchment papers and the dough if needed to keep the dough from becoming sticky. Return the dough to the refrigerator to cool down.
- Using a 2½-inch round cutter, evenly press out pieces of dough. Collect the scraps, form them back into a ball, re-roll into a sheet and repeat. Keep the cut-out doughnuts in the refrigerator, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap until all the doughnuts have been cut/shaped.
- Organize the doughnuts on a silicone sheet-lined sheet tray that is sprayed well with nonstick spray. Then spray the tops of the doughnuts as well, cover with plastic wrap and proof for 2 to 3 hours. Once the doughnuts have proofed, gently press down on the surface until the doughnuts are ½-inch high, taking care not to deflate them any further than that.
- Fill a large frying pan with oil 2 to 3 inches deep, and heat to 350 degrees. Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Prepare a cooling rack over another sheet tray. Then gently place a few doughnuts at a time in the oil, flipping them every 1 to 2 minutes. The doughnuts should be golden-brown on both sides. To be sure they are cooked through, you can probe one doughnut to make sure the internal temperature is 192 degrees. Once fried, place the doughnuts on the rack to cool.
- While warm, inject the insides with apple compote (instructions below; prepare in advance) and dust the top of the doughnuts with doughnut sugar. If you can’t find doughnut sugar, which is preferred as it won’t dissolve, use confectioner’s sugar, but dust just before eating.
- Apple Compote: Preheat oven to 300 degrees (275 degrees on convection). Peel, core and chop the apples into large chunks.
- Take a very large pot, place on the stovetop and turn on to high heat. After 2 minutes, start sprinkling the sugar into the pot. If the sugar turns right to caramel, add more sugar immediately to minimize smoking. If nothing happens, wait a minute longer until the sugar dissolves. As the sugar dissolves into itself and darkens, add the rest of the sugar until it is all dissolved and lightly caramelized.
- Deglaze the caramel with the apples 1 cup at a time on low-medium heat. Wait 30 seconds in between each addition, mixing well to deglaze the caramel without seizing it. Once all the apples are added, cook for 2 minutes.
- Pour the entire pot out into a hotel pan or baking pan, and place in the oven. Every 15 minutes, mix the caramel apples. After 2 to 3 hours the apples should have reduced dramatically and caramelized into the color of tart Tatin. At this point, they are done. Remove the pan from the oven. While warm, use a blender to puree the apple compote. Add a bit of water if the apples are too dense, but be careful not to add more than needed. Puree completely on high speed. Strain the mixture to remove any clumps. Cool to room temperature.