Friday, March 20, 2015

Sourdough Old Fashion Doughnuts

First off, Congratulations to Sourdough Surprises on their 3rd Anniversary!!  Without you the world would be a little less sour and I mean that in a good way, of course!  I've learned so much from baking along with the group for the last two years, and look forward to many more!

For this anniversary post, in which we all got to do our own thing, I decided to visit a challenge that occurred before I got hip to the group- Sourdough Doughnuts.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here.  First a little back story.

Did you ever wonder what people did before i-phones, twitter and Starbucks?  I'm not sure how they communicated, maybe wrote letters or talked in person?  But I know where they had their coffee- Chock Full of Nuts.  I know because we had one downtown and I met my sister there for coffee on more than one occasion.  It was a thing, believe me (You can still buy CFofN coffee at better markets everywhere).  And I did a little digging to find out more.  It's a true, if nutty, rags to riches story about an immigrant nut seller in Times Square who turned a chestnut into a chain of successful coffee shops.  But it leaves out one important and tasty bit of info.  Old fashioned whole wheat doughnuts. 

I had an old fashioned whole wheat doughnut every time I went to Chock, as we called it.  They came hermetically sealed, but I didn't hold that against them.  They weren't as cloyingly sweet as other commercial doughnuts and of course they were whole wheat, which you never saw back in the day.  And they weren't trying to impress you with the size either.  They were just the right portion for a couple of bites with a watered down cup of coffee. 

Spring forward a few years and here I am trying to recreate this treasured memory.  I gathered some inspiration from this recipe and this one then let my starter do it's magic.  

I was definitely tasting a little nostalgia along with the delicious fried dough and sugary glaze, so, needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed these doughnuts.  They were the panda's bamboo, as in I could have eaten them all day long!

sourdough old fashioned whole wheat doughnuts

1 & 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sourdough starter
oil for frying

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup hot water (or enough to make a thin glaze)
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl sift together flour, corn starch, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

In a stand mixer cream together butter and sugar.  Add egg and mix well.  Add flour mixture and wet ingredients alternately, starting and ending with flour until dough forms.

Wrap dough and chill for 1 hour or overnight.

Before cutting and frying doughnuts make glaze.  In a large bowl whisk together all ingredients until smooth and thin.

Heat oil in heavy bottomed pan to 325 degrees.  Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to roughly 7/16 of an inch.  Cut dough with a 2 & 1/2 inch round cutter.   Cut out centers with a 3/3 inch round.  Re-roll scraps as needed, batch should yield about 12 doughnuts and doughnuts holes.

Working in batches fry doughnuts and doughnut holes a couple at a time, flipping once or twice until lightly browned.  Drain on wire rack and dip in glaze while still warm (you may need to give the glaze a quick whisk if it sits too long). 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Not My Mother's Ricotta Cheesecake

Spring is on it's way and among the many joys this time of year holds I have one that is dear to my heart.  Every spring, well Easter really, my mother would make ricotta cheesecake.  As a child this was my least favorite of all the desserts she made.  It was unapologetically plain, rustic and not all that sweet.  I ate it anyway because dessert is dessert and it can't always be banana cream pie.

But as I got older I began to appreciate the humble ricotta cheesecake, plus how really luscious ricotta is in desserts.  It's light, full of texture and flavor. It has that continental pedigree that sets it apart from Philly cream cheese.  Suddenly ricotta cheese was so au courant and little Anna Rita had been using it all along.

Obviously mom's recipe was my starting point but she wouldn't have a hard time recognizing where I've taken it.  It has a crust of Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies,  I've added some of that good ole Philly too, tweaked it with a bit of orange rind and separated the eggs so as to whip up the whites.  But like her's it's super moist, not too sweet and radiant with nutmeg.

ricotta cheesecake


1 cup finely crushed shortbread cookies
2 tablespoons butter


1 15 ounce container of whole milk ricotta cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar, divided
rind of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl combine melted butter and cookie crumbs until moist.  Press into the bottom and part way up the side of a 6 inch cheesecake or spring-form pan.

Bake or 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Lower the oven to 300 degrees.  In a stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk whip egg whites and 1/3 cup of sugar until soft peaks form.  Transfer to another bowl.

Change out the whisk for a paddle attachment and cream the cream cheese.  Add ricotta cheese and 1/3 cup sugar.  Beat on low to combine, scraping the bowl as necessary.  Add orange rind, nutmeg and egg yolks; beat just long enough to combine.  Gently fold in whites with a rubber spatula.

Pour batter into crust.  Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until cake is firm but still bouncy.  (For best results wrap pan in tin foil and bake in a water bath.)  Turn off the oven and crack the door to let the cheesecake cool down slowly for about an hour of so.  Chill completely before serving.