Latkes and Donuts – what says Chanukah food more than these two fried items?? Latkes you may say, to my unspoken query, I can do. Donuts, hmmm, not so much. They take too much time and demand a finesse I don’t have. At one time I might have agreed with you. Conventional donuts often call for two rises, making their pursuit time consuming. However, after several forays into making gluten-free donuts, I am proud to present to you donuts that are light and ethereal and only require a 45 minute proof.
The challenge first and foremost was how to get the lightness and bounce that characterizes a melt in your mouth wheat-based donut. I can remember that lightness, where the dough seemed to magically dissolve on your tongue. That was the texture I wanted to reproduce. So, armed with my culinary memory, I started to think about different flour combinations. I knew that I wanted to avoid almond flour. Although high in protein, it meant that anybody with a nut allergy couldn’t partake. So I opted to stay with brown rice flour and potato starch, but not too too much of the latter, lest I forfeit the lightness I was seeking. Although brown rice flour has been known to leave a gritty texture in baked goods, the frying seemed to alleviate this problem. Xanthan gum helped with the binding. I also purposely used a light hand with the sweetener and kept the donuts small.
Like all donuts, these are most satisfying and fresh tasting eaten within a few hours of them being fried. Some of my younger taste testers, though, were so thrilled by these confections, that they kept some to eat the next day, with nary a complaint or a grimace.
Be sure you get the little ones to help you cut out the donuts and donut holes and then round up the same brigade when it’s time to dip the donuts in chocolate or sprinkle them with sugar.
I like to place a few slices of carrot in the hot oil to help the oil stay clean.
3-1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch
2 tsp xanthan gum
2-1/4 tsp active dried yeast
1/3 cup raw organic sugar
1-1/2 cups warm milk substitute (rice, almond or soy milk)
2 large eggs
½ cup trans-fat free margarine (1 stick), softened
Oil, for frying
1. In a bowl, mix together the brown rice flour, potato starch, xanthan gum and salt; set aside.
2. In a separate small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and warm milk. Let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment, beat together the eggs and margarine until well combined. Pour in the yeast mixture. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Lay a dish towel on top of the plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area for 45 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a large deep pot, heat at least 3-inches of oil with the carrot slices over medium-high heat.
5. Transfer the dough to a work surface that has been lightly “floured” with either sweet rice flour or a combination of potato starch and brown rice flour. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness. Using either a special donut cutter, a plain cookie cutter or the bottom of a glass cup, cut out donuts. To create the center, use the top of a water bottle or a very small cookie cutter, reserving the holes for mini donut holes.
6. When the oil is at a light bubble, carefully add one donut to the hot oil. If it floats to the top, then the oil is at the ideal temperature. Add enough donuts to the pot so that they don’t seem crowded, keeping the temperature constant. Fry on one side until slightly golden. With a slotted spoon, turn over the doughnuts. Fry until golden on the underside. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain and cool. Repeat with any remaining donuts and donut holes.
7. Once slightly cooled, dip the donuts into melted chocolate or sprinkles or both. Sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over the donut holes.
Yields about 30 donuts.