Thursday, 16 February 2012

Doughnut Day!

The last Thursday before the Ash Wednesday is called "Fat Thursday" in my country. It is the last Thursday of carnival, and it used to symbolise the end of the period of fun, partying and feasting, as Lent, the period of somberness and fasting was about to begin on Ash Wednesday. Long time ago, our ancestors had savoury doughnuts, made with pork fat and bacon and would consume them with large quantities of strong alcohol. The tradition of eating doughnuts on "Fat Thursday" has prevailed till this day, and there is even a superstition that if you don't have a doughnut on Fat Thursday, the rest of your year will be full of misery and misfortune!

Thus, all diets have a "day off" and everybody indulges themselves in doughnuts, faworki, carnival roses and other sweets. There are long queues outside cake shops (they take orders for doughnuts a week or so in advance) and every grocery will have a good supply of doughnuts and faworki on this day.
The only downside of the "Fat Thursday" goodies is that they're fairly time-consuming and not that easy to prepare, but I promise they are well worth the effort!

Polish doughnuts are a tad different from their American cousins - the dough is slightly different, and they are ball shaped, without a hole in the middle, but stuffed with yummy jam instead. They're also covered with glazing, and some have candied orange peel on top, but I'm not a fan so I gave it a pass.

To make Polish style doughnuts you need:
1 heaped large cup of flour
20 grams of yeast
3 yokes
3 table spoons of icing sugar
2 spoons of butter
4 full spoons of full fat milk
a pinch of salt
2 spoons of alcohol (e.g. vodka)
jam (my favourite dougnut filling is rose hip jam)
3-4 cups of icing sugar and water for the glazing
about 1 kilogram of lard for frying

Mix the yeast with lukewarm milk and leave in a warm place to grow. Mix the yokes with icing sugar using a mixer, until they are smooth, add the yeast mix, alcohol and stir it all well. Add flour, salt and knead the dough well. (It does take a fair bit of kneading - great as an arm and shoulder workout!). When it finally is smooth and soft add warm butter and knead once again, until all the ingredients blend. Place the dough in a bowl, cover it with a tea towel and put in a warm place to grow. When the dough has doubled in volume we can start dividing it into individual doughnuts and fill them with jam. For each doughnut take a spoonful of dough, make a flat sphere of it on your hand and place a drop of jam in the middle. (Jam shouldn't be colder than the dough).

Close the dough around the jam (roll the doughnut in your hands well, to hide the 'seams'). When ready, place the doughnut on a floured surface and prepare the remaining doughnuts. Wait until doughnuts grow (they should be twice their original size), then heat the fat and fry the doughnuts on both size until they are light brown. Take them off the pan and place on kitchen roll-covered plate to cool. Place icing sugar in a bowl and add a few spoons of water. Stir the mixture until it's smooth, then cover the doughnuts with the glazing. You can wait until the glazing dries, or you can enjoy the doughnuts straight away!

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