Old Fashioned Crème Fraiche Donuts

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Makes 10-12 donuts
Recipe adapted: Original provided by Clayton Chapman, Chef/Owner, The Grey Plume, Omaha NE

Tip: No matter how much you cook or bake, there is always more to learn and experience. I participated in a just-for-fun donut class last weekend where we made three types: yeast donuts, Italian Zeppolle and the old fashioned cake donuts I’m sharing here. The 12 “students” had widely varying levels of cooking experience and the instructor, an award-winning chef who clearly enjoys sharing his expertise, seemed to have a 6th sense about how much or how little to help each person. He was terrific. Do cook and experiment at home, but explore your options to keep learning. Among other things, I learned what hydrolyze means! 😉

4 tsp unsalted butter
¾ cup crème fraiche (sub sour cream)
2 large eggs, separated (see Prep notes)
½ cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
Canola or other neutral-flavored oil for frying
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tbsp whole milk
½ tsp vanilla extract

Separate egg yolks from egg whites; reserve egg whites for another use.
Bring egg yolks to room temperature.
Bring crème fraiche (or sour cream) to room temperature.
Melt butter.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in medium bowl.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk glaze ingredients by hand until smooth and thin enough for dipping the cooked donuts. Set aside until needed.

In large mixing bowl by hand, or in a stand mixer, whisk together melted butter with crème fraiche and egg yolks. Add sugar and continue to whisk until texture is light and frothy.

Add the dry ingredients and gently fold by hand with a silicone spatula until just combined. The dough will be sticky and somewhat difficult to fold in all flour. Do not knead the dough; fold and press gently with the spatula, turning the bowl slightly after each fold motion until flour is absorbed into the liquid ingredients. Cover and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This allows the dough to hydrolyze and relax. If the dough feels quite sticky after this rest period, sprinkle just enough flour on it to keep it from sticking to your hands as you remove it from the bowl.

While you roll and cut the dough, preheat cooking oil to 340 – 350 degrees F. in deep fryer or on stovetop in a deep cast iron skillet. Check the oil with a cooking thermometer and regulate heat as needed.

Sprinkle a light coating of flour on your rolling surface and gently roll the chilled dough to about ¾” thickness. Cut into donut shapes with biscuit cutters. The hole in the center facilitates even cooking. Donut holes can be cooked or gathered and rerolled for additional donuts.

Do a quick test by flicking a pinch of flour into the oil. It should sizzle and bubble rapidly if the oil is ready to use. Carefully lay the donuts into the hot oil, 2-3 at a time, and fry until side one is golden brown, then flip carefully in the oil to cook side two. This should take about 2 minutes per side, but watch closely so they don’t burn. Remove donuts from oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Cool until just warm enough to handle. Dip 1 side of each donut into glaze, place on a rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

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