Friday, October 08, 2021


I have written before about how impressive baking is, and always has been to me; how fascinating I find all of the creative freedom it gives, and how many different things it can craft by using the same ingredients. A tiny cake of fresh yeast, a handful of flour, and a splash of water can create so much.
That is why I firmly believe that everyone should try their hand at baking, even on the most elementary of levels. Just to feel the dough under the fingertips and be able to shape it into any form desired. To experience the absolute bliss of millions of tiny bubbles bursting as the dough is kneaded.
Few things bring as much comfort and cosiness as homemade pastries do, especially in the colder periods of the year. And simply because I love my traditions, chillier days, especially in early autumn, will always be reserved for baking.
These doughnuts are made of my trusty yoghurt dough. In all my years of baking, it has remained one of my favourites, simply because it is supremely soft and airy, and the doughnuts stay soft even the next day.
Combined with a luxurious white wine and pumpkin filling, these are the epitome of the season. I flavoured them lightly with cinnamon and cloves, as I love how they pair with pumpkin; however, adding a bit of freshly grated orange zest could only make the filling brighter in flavour.
The topping is optional, but I do recommend adding it; that tiny crunch of the sugar crystals adds so much to the overall enjoyment of eating the doughnut.
As always, I serve them with freshly brewed strong coffee, but a mug of hot chocolate would be just as lovely.

For the dough
550 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
75 grams light brown sugar
150 millilitres warm water
30 grams fresh yeast
150 grams vegan vanilla yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
45 millilitres vegetable oil, divided
For the white wine pumpkin custard filling
250 millilitres unfined white wine
150 grams pumpkin purée
100 grams light brown sugar
40 grams cornflour
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
small pinch of ground cloves
For the topping
50 grams vegan block butter, melted
75 grams light brown sugar
10 grams ground cinnamon

Start by making the white wine pumpkin custard, as it needs a bit of time to cool down. Take about 100 millilitres of the wine and set it aside. Pour the rest of the wine into a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add in the pumpkin purée, vanilla, and the spices, and mix very well. Place the saucepan over medium heat, and let it slowly heat up. Take the reserved wine and whisk it together with the cornflour and the sugar. As soon as the white wine mixture starts to steam, start whisking. Let it come to a boil, pour in the cornflour mix, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2-3 minutes, until it starts resembling a glossy pudding. Remove from the heat, cover the top with cling film, and let it cool down to room temperature.
To make the doughnuts, sift the flour into a large bowl, add in the salt, whisk very well, and set it aside. Crumble the fresh yeast into a separate bowl, add in the brown sugar and the warm water, and set it aside for about 10-15 minutes so the yeast can activate. Once it is bubbly and ready, make a well in the centre of the flour, add in the yeast, yoghurt, vanilla, and the oil, and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms. It should not stick to your hands, but if it does, let it rest for about 15 minutes, and then knead it again. This way, the dough, and the baked doughnuts, will be fantastically soft. Place the kneaded dough into a large clean bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise, at room temperature, for about an hour, or until doubled.
When the dough is ready, transfer it to a lightly floured surface, and knead it briefly. Divide it into 16 equal pieces, shape each of them into a ball, and arrange them on a large baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Let them rest and rise, covered, for about 30 minutes more. Just before baking, brush them with the reserved oil, and bake in a preheated oven, at 200°C, for about 12-15 minutes. Make sure they do not overbake, and they stay soft. Once baked and done, remove them from the oven, and let them cool down a bit, as you prepare the topping.
Melt the vegan butter over low heat or in the microwave, and let it cool down slightly. Take each of the doughnuts, brush them evenly, and immediately roll them in the mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Be generous, as there is plenty of topping. Set each coated doughnut on a wire rack to cool down just a tad more, and as they are cooling, vigorously whisk the custard filling so it becomes smooth, place it into a piping bag fitted with a large doughnut nozzle, fill each doughnut generously, and serve immediately. Yields 16 servings. © TINA VESIĆ 2021