“Lessiez les bon temps rouler” or “Temptation of the pineapple doughnut.”February 20, 2007
Today is Mardi Gras. For many, it’s the last day before Lent and its traditional sacrifices until Easter. Hence why Mardi Gras (translated as “Fat Tuesday”) is so important to revelers: It’s the last day you can gorge on delights that will be shunned for the forty days that make up Lent.
So today I bring you something to really challenge you during Lent, something terribly difficult to give up, something to make you truly appreciate the day. No, it’s not some beautiful king cake or similar dish. I give you beautiful, tropical pineapple doughnuts.
And because my wife is under doctor’s orders to avoid simple sugars while pregnant, she is sidelined from this recipe. Today it’s a solo act. Sure, it’s a much less entertaining dog and pony show but, alas, what am I to do? She also wants me to point out that she’s got a head start on Lent because for two months she has gone without sweets. Oh, what we do for our children! But at least when my son is able to eat solid foods, he’ll eat well.
So, on to the substance of these pineapple doughnuts. These are cake doughnuts, which are built like quick breads with chemical leveners (baking soda and baking powder), similar to muffins and pancakes. This means they have a nice density to them and can be prepared relatively quickly because they don’t have to rise like a brioche or my pecan beignets (a take on a New Orleans classic).
To me, what clinches this dish is the flavors — coconut milk and pineapple. In fact, I almost called this a pina colada doughnut. The coconut appears in the glaze and the body of the doughnut, and gives this breakfast treat that extra something special. But it was those pieces of pineapple stratified in the doughnut’s layers that are really king: Hence, pineapple takes top billing in the name.
A few technical notes: First, the doughnut’s hole is important. It allows the doughnut to cook up quickly and evenly. So while you can skip this step, I would recommend the hole for more then just authenticity’s sake — it makes a better doughnut.
Second, I use canned pineapple in this recipe. I’m 99% positive you would have excellent results if you used fresh pineapple. I chose canned, though, because of its ease of use and because of its syrup, which I wanted to harness in making both the dough and glaze. Nevertheless, I encourage you to work with fresh if you want.
Finally, one of the first steps in this recipe is reducing the syrup from the canned pineapple. I did this because I wanted the flavor, but not the volume of liquid. However, I think you would have excellent results without this step. So if you are hurried for time, feel free to skip this and follow the measured amounts.
Before I go off merrymaking on this day, I have to ask for a ruling from the reader: Is it doughnut? Or donut? Both are correct according to both Webster’s and Oxford American dictionary.
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
1 20 oz. can pineapple (diced or tidbits)
1 14 oz. can coconut milk (light is an option)
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Oil for frying
1. Strain the juice from the can, and set in pot over medium low heat. Should be about 1 cup. Reduce over low heat for about 5-10 min or until you have approximately 2/3 of a cup.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and ground cloves.
3. In a separate large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer with paddle attachment, add the eggs and egg yolk and beat until it lightens in color. Add the sugar, 1/3 cup of your pineapple syrup and 3/4 cup of coconut milk and mix together until fully integrated.
4. With your mixer on slow or by hand, add the flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time. Allow the first half batch to be wet before adding the next. Once you’ve added about 3 cups of the flour, add 3/4 of the pineapple from the can. Continue to add the flour mix. What you are looking for is something about the consistency of heavy biscuit dough. It should be the entire amount of flour; however, you may need to stop around 4 cups or add some more.
5. Once the dough is completely mixed, turn it out on a well-floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough about 1/2 inch thick. Using two sizes of circular cutters, cut out the doughnuts. You should be able to squeeze about eight out of the first roll. Place the doughnuts on parchment paper, silpat or other non-stick surface. Knead the excess dough and then roll and cut as before.
6. In a large dutch oven or fryer, heat oil to 360F. Once the oil is to temperature, add two to three doughnuts to the oil. (Gently place them: If you drop them, very hot substances may splash and burn you!) Once in the oil, the doughnut should drop to the bottom and then slowly rise to the surface. Let fry for about 2 to 3 min per side or until golden brown. You can flip them and remove them by sticking the end of a wooden spoon through the doughnut hole. Place on a rack or paper towels to drain and cool. Let the oil return to 360F before continuing to the next batch.
7. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining pineapple syrup, 1/2 cup of coconut milk and the powdered sugar. The result should be a sweet, tropical-smelling glaze. It shouldn’t be too thick. Dip each doughnut in the glaze and let rest on a rack for at least 10 min to allow the glaze a chance to soak in. Best served warm. Enjoy!