Lotus Paste & Salted Egg Doughnuts
Let me just begin by saying - doughnuts, not donuts. I won’t give in to the butcherised American way of spelling it, thank you very much.
To be fair, I don’t even know for sure if ‘donut’ IS an American spelling of the word, but for a country that turned ‘colour’ into ‘color’, ‘aluminium’ into ‘aluminum’, aubergine into eggplant, and worst of all - pronounces the word niche as ‘nitch’ (where is the ‘T’!?), the US sure makes for a pretty convincing candidate. Only kidding, I actually love America, despite its guns, Trumps, and idiosyncrasies. ❤️
Like any self-respecting geek though, to find out if the spelling ‘donut’ is really a product of American culture, I did some hardcore research. (Really it was just one Google search that spiraled into an hour-long dive into the annals of doughnut history. No doughnut-shape-driven rectal jokes please.)
Well, my suspicions were confirmed! Turns out the US was responsible for swapping out the name of the Dutch dish of olykoek - largely thought to be doughnut’s predecessor - to the more direct, but a lot less fun to say ‘doughnut’, as the shape of the doughy pastry resembled a nut (as in nuts and bolts). Then sometime in the early 1900s, they shortened ‘doughnut’ into ‘donut’, apparently for economic and linguistic reasons - the shorter spelling saved on neon signage costs, and was easier for non-English-speaking visitors to pronounce too.
Now I gotta admit, the reasoning for the simplified ‘donut’ spelling is a pretty sensible one. If it weren’t for my British education and the vestiges of Malaysia’s colonial past possibly at work, I’ll probably have adopted the simplified spelling years ago. I mean, it is admittedly a lot catchier, I’ll give it that. But for now, I’m still very much a doughnut-over-donut kinda guy. I’m also really tickled by the idea that the original spelling of ‘doughnut’ is just a typically snobbish, British response to the Americanised spelling - putting an ‘ugh’ in ‘donut’. Get it? 😛
Whichever camp you belong in though, I think we can all agree that doughnuts are the bomb! Very few pastry items can take on any flavour you throw in it and still taste great! Case in point - these lotus paste and salted egg yolks doughnuts, which are as far away from a traditional flavour as you can go.
Now you might be wondering, why lotus paste and salted egg? Well, with Mid-Autumn Festival having just passed, and the glut of mooncake posts flooding Instagram, let’s just say I was probably subliminally compelled to make a dish out of the classic mooncake flavours of… you guessed it, lotus paste and salted egg yolks!
And my god does it work! With the help of a solid doughnut recipe, and by adding some cream to lighten the usually thick and gummy lotus paste, it makes for a sultry combination of yeasty, airy fried dough and nutty, comforting filling, which I’m pretty proud to say, is unlike anything you can get at Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts. Plus, nowadays putting salted egg yolk on things seem to make it an instant hit, so you can’t possibly go wrong there!
These were so good that I’m willing to make the blasphemous admission that despite how much I love mooncakes (double yolk all the way), I’d pick these doughnuts over mooncakes any day! (Well maybe except for the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival; gotta tone down the heresy a bit before my parents disown me eh.)
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Lotus Paste & Salted Egg Doughnuts (a.k.a. Moon Doughnuts)
Makes one dozen doughnuts
50ml warm water
7g instant yeast
300g all-purpose flour
40g caster sugar
60g butter, softened at room temperature
50g caster sugar
Lotus paste filling
300g white lotus paste, I used store-bought, but you can make it from scratch too!
Salted egg yolk sauce
4 salted egg yolks
1 tablespoon (15g) caster sugar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
Making the dough: Put the warm water in a small bowl, and add in the instant yeast and a pinch of sugar. Give it a quick stir and leave it for 5 minutes to bubble and activate. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, caster sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and the activated yeast and water. Mix this on medium speed for 8-10 minutes, occasionally scraping the dough off the sides of the bowl. Add in the soft butter and mix for a further 5 minutes. The dough will be pretty sticky, which is a good thing! But if large chunks of dough still sticks to the sides, you can add in a tablespoon or two of flour to make handling the dough easier.
First proof: Cover the mixer bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap, and leave it to proof until it doubles in size. (This takes around 1 hour in a temperate country like Malaysia, but might take closer to 90 minutes in cooler climates.) After it proofs, punch down the dough (or mix it in the mixer on medium speed for 10 seconds), and transfer it to a well-floured bowl or container, cover it and keep it in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 24 hours.
Second proof: When you’re ready, divide the dough into 12 pieces (I made them 50g each), dust them with a little flour and shape them into balls. Then, place them onto a lined baking sheet, cover with a cloth, and let it proof until it doubles in size, which should take 60-90 minutes.
Lotus paste filling: While waiting for the doughnuts to proof, start on the fillings! To make the lotus paste filling, beat the lotus paste in a mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Then add in the milk and mix for a further 1-2 minutes. The filling should have a loose, peanut-butter like consistency. You can add more milk if it is still a little stiff. When it comes to consistency, transfer it into a piping bag. (A sturdy plastic bag will do fine if you don’t have a piping bag.)
Salted egg yolk sauce: For the salted egg sauce, steam the salted egg yolks for 15 minutes, then remove it from the steamer, mash it up with a fork, and transfer it to a saucepan. Add the butter to the saucepan, and heat on medium heat until the egg yolk combines with the butter and it starts to boil. Let it bubble for 1 minute, and then add in the cream, sugar, and salt. Bring this to a boil, then remove from the heat. If you want a super smooth sauce, pass it through a sieve. Place this in a piping bag.
Frying: When the dough is ready, prepare a pot of oil at least 4 inches deep and heat it up to 180°C. Gently pick up each piece of dough and slide it into the oil. The doughnut fries best when it has plenty of space to move around; So don’t overcrowd the pot. (I could fit a maximum of 3 in my wok.) Fry the doughnut for 1 minute, then flip it and fry for a further 1 minute, or until both sides are nice and brown. Remove it from the oil and leave it on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
Filling: Using a piping tip or a skewer, poke a hole, roughly 5mm wide, into the side of the doughnut. Then pipe in the salted egg yolk sauce, and then pipe in the lotus paste.
Eat moon doughnuts while contemplating how apt this would’ve been so apt for Mooncake Festival two weeks ago. Ah well, there’s always next year!