I have constantly lived as an immigrant or expat. Having left Vietnam as a baby in 1978, growing up in Australia and working for stints here in Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Danang, London, Hong Kong and Singapore for several months or years a piece. Next year will mark 14 years abroad. I am always trying to satisfy some sort of craving from my many adopted homelands, places traversed and enjoyed. One of my secret pleasures to roam the aisles in markets far-flung, picking up local treasures. Spice mixes, bags of dried mushrooms, candies and jams, edible keepsakes that reveal their authentic flavors months from now back in my Saigon kitchen.
Though Ho Chi Minh, my current home of just over a year, does have an ever increasing number of good restaurants and providers making the cravings a little easier to satisfy. I feel lucky to be living here in easy reach of whatever my little heart and big stomach wants. So let’s begin. The last few weeks I’ve been yearning for doughnuts. Big yeasty rings with chocolate icing, batons of fresh dough rolled in icing sugar then split with cream and passion fruit, hot and fresh sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and a hint of nutmeg.
I’ve tried making these before in my youth, my three older brothers my taste testers likened them to fried bricks! But let’s have a go. I had some sour milk to spare so thought an old-fashioned non-yeast variety and a classic yeasted would hit all the targets required.
Sour milk doughnuts
4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
1 cup sour milk*
3 beaten eggs
1. Mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a medium bowl combine sugar, lard, milk, and eggs then add to flour mixture, mix well.
2. Roll on a lightly floured surface 1/4 inch thick. Cut with a large round biscuit cutter. If desired cut out centers with a small biscuit cutter.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When oil is hot add doughnuts and cook for 3 minutes flipping over halfway. Cool on brown paper or paper towels.
4.Serve with powdered sugar or cinnamon & sugar mixed.
210g strong white flour, plus extra to dust
7g dried yeast
½ tsp salt
15g caster sugar, plus extra to dust
20g unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped, plus extra to grease
65ml whole milk warmed
45ml warm water
1 egg, beaten
2 liters vegetable or sunflower oil, to cook
6 tsp raspberry or strawberry jam
1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Put the butter into a bowl with the warm milk and water, and stir to melt. Pour this into the mixing bowl, along with the egg, and stir until it comes together into a dough: it should be firm, but soft. 2. Tip on to a lightly floured surface, or into a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Put into a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (about an hour).
3. Shape into 6 balls of about 80g each, folding each side tightly into the center, in turn, moving on as you go, then turn the ball over and put it on a lightly floured baking tray or board, spacing them well apart. Cover and leave to rise again for 45 minutes.
4. Heat the oil in a large pan or deep-fat fryer to 160C. Cook the doughnuts in 2 batches for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden, then blot with kitchen paper and sprinkle with caster sugar. Allow to cool slightly, then make a small hole in the side of each, and use a piping bag to inject a splodge of jam. Eat immediately, while they’re still warm.