National Doughnut Week
Doughnuts are our "smile food" - we always smile when we see one. Whether it was the box of brightly coloured ones that we devoured whilst driving down Route 1 in California, the old school jammy ones that we love to eat on a Saturday afternoon with the children without being allowed to lick our lips, or our all time favourite... the St John ones filled with vanilla custard. I'm smiling.
My love for St John Bread and Wine – London’s finest eating and drinking establishment in my opinion – goes back years. I had an office above Smithfields Market and every day I would have a coffee in the courtyard area at the front of the restaurant. I loved the unapproachable nature of the place. The staff were achingly cool and I didn’t want, nor have to engage with them. I could just sit and have a coffee, dog at my feet and find my daily motivation. As the years went on I would have numerous lunches, drinking sessions and suppers at the restaurant and every time it delivered the same, simple magic I experienced the first time I set foot in there.
Alex and I would treat ourselves every now and then to one of the freshly made doughnuts, filled with creamy vanilla custard. It was a joy every time. Whenever I am in the neighbourhood I will pick up a couple and transport them back to Warwickshire for my wife and reminisce about the “good old days”. On one recent visit to London I have been ordered (not asked) by Alex to grab her two doughnuts – she was eight months pregnant, emotional and in need of a sweet treat. I arrived at St John and enjoyed a drink at the bar before walking over to the bakery to ask for a couple of doughnuts -“Sorry, we have run out” was the reply from the very handsome and charming and talented and utterly wonderful baker man! I told him my dilemma and without a thought he turned slowly on his heels and made two immaculate vanilla filled doughnuts, popped them in the bag and said “on the house!” with a knowing nod of a man who has suffered at the hands of a pregnant wife.
My love for St John could not be higher and my love for their doughnuts will make me smile forever.
Daniella has fallen for these doughnuts by Minimalist Baker and with the help of her new coffee grinder she can vouch that these are DELICIOUS!
- 2 cups milk or plant-based milk
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1tsp salt
- 4 – 4 1/2 cups flour (give or take)
- 1 shot quality espresso or strong coffee
- 4 cups icing sugar
- Boil the milk, oil, maple syrup or agave, and sugar.
- Once boiling, remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm or 110 degrees F / 43 C (30 minutes)
- Once cooled, stir in yeast and let set for 5-10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add flour and salt, then add to wet mixture and stir, mixing well, then cover with a towel in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Once doubled in size, add the remaining flour (1/2 cup as original recipe is written // or until the dough is no longer incredibly sticky). Mix well and then let the dough sit for about 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and cover with light towel while warming.
- On a floured surface make about 2-inch balls and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving room for expansion.
- Bake for 10-11 minutes.
- Prepare glaze while baking. Once donuts are done, let them cool slightly and then dunk in glaze.
- Serve immediately for best result, or store in air-tight container for up to 2 days.