There is something so irresistible about fresh, buttery dough, fried and topped with sugary goodness! Donuts are one of those tricky sweets you crave any time of day, year-round, your whole life. I'm convinced of it. I feel like some people have specific aversions to desserts, like one having a preference for cake over ice cream, candy over cookies, chocolate over fruity sweets, you get the idea. But very seldom do I meet someone who doesn't like donuts! They are delicious and there is always an occasion for them. Period. My husband and I argue constantly over who makes the best donuts in Portland, and though I have my preferences, there are really no "bad" donuts anywhere! Give me a donut and I'm a happy camper. I will say that there are lots of different styles of donuts and each shop we frequent does them unique to their liking, which makes it a lot harder to argue who's are best! If you aren't from around here and ever choose to visit, please spare yourself the 2-hour wait at Voodoo and check out some really good shops like Blue Star, Coco Donuts, or Pip's, just to name a few. If you have not tried Pip's Original Doughnuts, you must! They make wonderful little donuts using a brioche recipe and finish them with phenomenal toppings. They are the little devils I crave on a regular basis. Unfortunately, we live on the other side of town from said shop, so I decided to try my own brioche recipe. I wouldn't call this a "copycat" recipe, but these babies definitely hit the spot on a morning when I craved Pip's but craved my pajamas even more. So here you have it, my homemade Brioche Donut Holes!
4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 C warm whole milk
1/4 C granulated sugar
3 1/2 C bread flour (I used a mixture of half Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour and half Gold Medal bread flour)
1 1/2 tsp salt (I used Maldon flaked sea salt)
8 oz European style butter
Rice oil for frying (about 1/2 C)
Optional ingredients for topping:
cinnamon + sugar
Combine yeast, warm milk, sugar and only 1/2 C flour in a mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, until it's a little bit bubbly. Then, add flour and salt, mixing as you pour. After flour and salt are incorporated, add your eggs, one at a time. Mixing on low speed, add the butter (slightly softened) one chunk at a time. If you're using an electric stand mixer, use the bread hook attachment.
Knead dough for 5-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and has some elasticity to it. Add a little oil to your bowl, or grease down the sides, cover and let sit in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in size. I like to heat my oven to 100 degrees, then turn it off and let the bowl sit in there... works like a charm!
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a well-floured surface and roll it out until it's 3/4" thick. Cut small circles and place them onto a sheet of parchment. I don't have a doughnut cutter, but I used half of a metal tea strainer and it cut them very easily to the perfect size. Let doughnut holes rise for another 30 minutes on the countertop.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or high-heat pan on medium heat. Using tongs, drop donut holes in and fry until base are golden brown, then flip them over to brown on the other side. It only took me about a minute per side! You have to watch donut holes carefully because they cook way faster than regular sized donuts. Quickly pull them out and let them drain on a paper towel.
Now for the fun part. Prepare the toppings of your choice. In a small bowl, I combined some cinnamon and sugar and dipped the warm donuts into it. In another small bowl, I whisked together some Nutella and raw honey and drizzled it over a few, and then sprinkled a little sea salt over another few to have a little variety of flavor.
Since we were indulging, I made myself a delicious iced latte to go with them. Donuts are great. Donuts and coffee? Match made in heaven.
This batch yielded 100 holes, so I only fried a dozen for the morning and just popped the others into a ziplock freezer bag, lining them with parchment in between each layer of holes. Two days later, I took out another dozen and let them defrost and proof in a warmed oven for about 20 minutes while we had company and they fried perfectly all over again. Yay!