I spent the weekend in Orlando for the Food & Wine Conference by The Sunday Supper Movement and had so much fun. But that means I'm very behind in all things blogging. Funny how meeting other bloggers IRL and talking about how to make our blogs better made me completely slack off.
Anyway, I'm sitting in my mom's living room in West Palm Beach now, watching TV shows about making lasagna and eating a cupcake. Back to reality!
Before I left last week, though, I had some of my best friends over for a boozy brunch filled with baked goods. I'd spent Saturday making bread, a pie, choux pastry, pork buns and these pizza donuts. We pigged out and drank too much champagne and it was the perfect lil Sunday. Here's the recipe for the hit of the party; donuts filled with mozzarella and stuffed with marinara. We agreed that next time a touch of pepperoni wouldn't hurt, but that was after we finished every bite, so...
For Marinara Sauce
For Final Cooking and Presentation
- Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl. Add in 1 teaspoon of the sugar and stir gently. Allow to sit for 5 minutes to proof the yeast. By the end of the 5 minutes, your mixture should be frothy. If it's not, your yeast is probably dead (either you got a dud packet or your water was too hot). Try again if this happens!
- In a separate bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one, whisk together flour, salt, and remaining sugar. In a third bowl, whisk together egg and oil.
- Affix your dough hook to your stand mixture, if using. Add yeast to flour mixture and then quickly add in egg mixture. Turn on mixer and knead for 8 - 10 minutes, until you have a smooth dough that springs back when pinched. If you don't have a stand mixer and are kneading by hand, mix ingredients together with a wooden spoon and then turn out onto a floured surface to knead. You'll probably just about double kneading time if doing this by hand, 15 - 20 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Store in a warm place, away from direct sunlight and direct heat. Let rest until doubled in size, about two hours.
- Meanwhile, make the marinara! Heat a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven and add in a good glug of oil when hot. Chop up an onion and slice garlic cloves; add to pot. Sautee those for a few minutes, until softened. Add in oregano and tomato paste and cook another minute or two, until fragrant. Season generously with salt. Add in tomatoes all at once and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes uncovered, until much of the liquid has evaporated. Less liquid in the center of the donut is best; too much and you risk soggy donuts and watered-down flavor. So, boiling off most of the liquid here is key! When the marinara is done, let cool and then blend with an immersion blender or blender.
- When dough is finished resting, punch it down, turn it out onto a work surface, and divide into 8 balls. I like to use a kitchen scale here to make sure each one is the same size as the next! Pat each ball down to a 3 or 4-inch disk. You want enough space to put cheese in the center, but don't want to roll out dough too thinly. Place about an ounce of cheese in the center (about a tablespoon) of the disk and then pick up sides of disk and pinch together sides, forming each donut. Once all donuts are formed, set aside and let rest while you prepare your deep fryer.
- In a deep, heavy bottomed pot (again, I use my Dutch oven), add in lard and shortening. Heat over medium heat until completely melted. Using a thermometer, check the temperature of the oil and once it reaches 350 degrees, add in 4 donuts at a time. You should probably be smarter than I was an lower each donut in with a slotted spoon instead of throwing them in like I did, splashing hot oil everywhere. Fry 3-4 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Meanwhile, combine semolina and sesame seeds in a shallow bowl or plate.
- Remove donuts one-by-one using slotted spoon and tossing in semolina mixture. Then, place on paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil.
- Once donuts are all cooked, turn of heat on the fryer and let lard/shortening come to room temperature. Do NOT pour down your drain, but instead discard in an old container--I just pull out something from my recycling bin. You can do this later in the day.
- Finally, fill a sturdy pastry bag affixed with a wide opening or a wax paper piping bag* with the tip snipped off with some of the marinara. Using a chopstick, prick a hole in each donut and fill, using pastry bag, with marinara. You'll feel each donut plump as you fill it--try not to get addicted to that feeling, though it's hard--and give each one just a good squeeze (too much filling will cause donuts to burst all over your guests.
- Once all are filled, (you may have to refill pastry bag a few times) serve as soon as possible!
*I like to make a wax piping bag for this. Sometimes, if the marinara isn't super-duper blended, pieces of the marinara can get caught in the tip of the pastry bag, causing a backup and the bag can burst if you aren't careful (like me that one time!). The wax paper is more forgiving with lumps.