Quarantine Cuisine: DaiLo chef Nick Liu’s deep-fried glazed doughnuts
We’re asking Toronto chefs to show us what they cook up using basic pantry supplies while they self-isolate at home
Like many of us, chef Nick Liu is confined to his home. We asked the social-distancing chef to whip something up with ingredients he already had on hand. His recipe: glazed doughnuts.
Chef Nick Liu thinks we all deserve a treat, especially in the thick of a pandemic. His go-to sweet? Deep-fried yeast doughnuts. (And it turns out he’s not the only one craving them.) “These are soft, melt-in-your-mouth goodness,” he says. “They’re like puffy clouds of sweet and crispy dough from a majestic world where all is good.” For Liu, the doughnuts have been a tasty labour of love. “I’ve been developing this recipe for years. Every time I make it, I try to improve on it,” he says. “And now, with all this extra time on our hands, we can all make the best doughnuts possible.” These fluffy fried wonders are the quintessential comfort food for Liu. “My mother is Chinese–South African, so when I was growing up she would make koeksisters, which are South African twist doughnuts.” Liu loved them, and his mom only made them a few times a year, so they were extra special. He also thinks there’s something so perfect about a doughnut’s shape. “I love the way they look—they’re so freaking cute.”
For those who have reservations about deep-frying at home, Liu has a few words of advice. “Use a small but tall pot, and only fill it about a quarter of the way full with oil or shortening. Fry on low to medium-low heat, and wear an apron and latex gloves to protect yourself. And make sure you have a slotted spoon on hand and a paper towel–lined baking tray all ready to receive your finished product.”
Note: This works best as a two-day recipe. Make the dough the night before and in the morning, fry up your doughnuts for a decadent breakfast. The following recipe makes a dozen doughnuts, but it can easily be doubled. (Just in case you plan on having an epic end-of-social-isolation brunch for all your family and friends when we’re through this.)
Ingredients for the doughnuts
½ cup and 2 tbsp whole milk
½ cup full-fat sour cream
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 ¼ tsp yeast
2 large eggs
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
5 tbsp Crisco shortening
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Dash of salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pound of Crisco shortening for frying. Depending on the size of the pot you are using, you may need more or less of it. If you don’t have enough, you can top it up with vegetable oil.
A candy or oil thermometer
Day one: the dough
Heat the milk, sour cream and half of the sugar until it reaches 97°F to 99°F.
Mix in the yeast and activate the mixture in a warm place until it starts to look frothy.
Meanwhile, melt butter and Crisco in a pot or in a microwave-safe bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and the rest of the sugar together. Add in the salt and vanilla. Then, very slowly whisk your melted butter and Crisco mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. (If you don’t go slowly here, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.)
Add the yeast mixture to the butter mixture in a large mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. No paddle attachment? No problem. You can mix by hand using a rubber spatula.
Add the flour, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough comes together. Mix for three to five minutes.
Finish kneading the dough by hand into a smooth ball. Then put it in a Ziploc bag and leave it to proof in the fridge overnight.
Day two: The doughnuts and the glaze
Roll out the dough until it’s about an inch thick. Cut out the doughnut shapes using a circular cookie cutter or the mouth of a glass jar. To make the doughnut hole, you can use a bottle cap.
Place your rings on a parchment-covered baking sheet approximately two inches away from each other, and cover with plastic wrap to proof for about 20 minutes.
Melt shortening in a pot on medium-low heat until it reaches 350°F. Carefully add your proofed doughnuts to the melted shortening. Fry for two to three minutes, flipping them over every 30 seconds so they cook evenly.
Remove them from the oil and place on a cooling rack. (Tip: the oil can be reused many times, so don’t throw it out. Consider making some French fries when the doughnuts are done.)
Ingredients for the glaze
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tbsp whole milk
A few drops (¼-½ tsp) vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
The glaze recipe
Start with the icing sugar in a bowl, whisking in a little milk at a time until you get a runny glaze. Add the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.
Dip your doughnuts, placing them back on the cooling rack for the glaze to set.