Over the past couple of months, I have become obsessed with making doughnuts. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I use the term "obsessed" either, considering I can't remember the last weekend where I didn't conduct some sort of doughnut-related experiment in my kitchen. Quite frankly, if I could get away with it, I would be experimenting during the week days as well. It's gotten to the point where people are telling me to just open a doughnut shop already, so I could at least make some money doing this.
The funny thing is, I can't even remember what set off this bizarre preoccupation with fried circular pastries with holes in the middle (or delicious filling inside). I started with cake doughnuts because they seemed easiest to do, and they were pretty addictive, but I don't remember why I wanted to make doughnuts. Eventually I got tired of cake doughnuts and turned my baking prowess towards yeast doughnuts, and that is when the madness truly took over.
The first stage of my obsession involved finding a decent yeast doughnut recipe, which was actually much harder than I anticipated. Most of the recipes I found included potatoes, which (even though I found it strange) I tried anyway. Unfortunately, either I didn't execute these recipes correctly, or they weren't very good, because the end results where downright inedible. I actually threw out several batches of dough rather than subject anyone to doughnuts borne of it. About a month after multiple failed attempts, I found an awesome recipe on the Internet that allowed me to make delicious (but not too sweet) yeast doughnuts.
My next course of action was to find ways to dress up my doughnuts. This part was surprisingly easy, considering how long it took me to find a decent recipe for the doughnuts. In one weekend, I was able to fine tune both a plain glaze and a chocolate icing, and in yet another weekend I learned to adjust the icing recipe to allow for peanut butter icing and vanilla icing.
For a brief while, I was happy with my doughnuts, since I was only making regular ones (aka the ones with holes in the middle) but as you can probably guess, I eventually got curious again. I decided to look into the most delicious doughnuts of all...filled doughnuts. I found that the actual process of making filled doughnuts isn't that difficult, you just don't cut out the middle, but then I hit a bit of a wall...what to fill them with?
There's an Amish-run store in my neighborhood that sells fruit fillings that are perfect for filling doughnuts, but my mom is partial to angel creme filling, so I decided to find a recipe for that. I fired up my good friend Google and started searching.
I found absolutely nothing. Well, at least nothing good, anyway.
There were many recipes on the web for angel creme filling, but they were all horrible. I didn't even have to make them to know they would taste horrible because most of them went like this:
1 cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup regular sugar
Now, I may not be professionally trained in baking, but even I can tell that if you don't add any sort of flavoring to that mix, you're going to get well acquainted with the taste of shortening. Not to mention the fact that since you're using regular sugar, which is somewhat coarse, it's gritty as hell. Obviously, I decided to pass on this recipe, but it seems like this is literally the only recipe for angel creme filling known to man. I couldn't find anything else; well, anything else that wasn't ridiculously complicated.
At first I thought that I was stuck, but then I realized, why not use this recipe as a base to make my own? So the other day I started the great experiment.
Right off the bat, I traded out the regular sugar for some more powdered sugar, so it wouldn't be gritty. I kept the shortening and mixed everything together, adding a teaspoon and a half of vanilla extract, because I have common sense. The filling was pretty thick and sticky, and while it didn't taste too horrible, it didn't taste very good either. From that point on, I just winged it and added two tablespoons of milk, one tablespoon of melted butter, and a couple pinches of salt. The end result was pretty decent, if a bit thick, sort of like an icing. I suspect if I mixed it enough with the mixer it would fluff up a bit. My captive guinea pigs, aka my family, have concluded that it tastes good and, although I plan on making some adjustments to further improve it, I'm pretty happy with my recipe.
And in case you want to try it out, here's what I wrote down in my notebook:
1 cup shortening
1 tbsp. melted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. milk
2 pinches of salt
This makes about 2 cups of filling if I had to guess; I didn't actually measure or anything. Plus, if you add a half cup of smooth peanut butter, you get a yummy peanut butter filling. If anyone actually tries this, let me know how it turns out for you. I'm definitely open to feedback since I want to get this right.
I guess I should have waited until later today to post this because I made an adjustment on the fly again and it turned out even better. I tried a half cup of shortening and a half cup of softened butter instead (leaving out the one tablespoon of melted butter of course) and it turned out pretty awesome. So here's my new version:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt
2 tsp milk