Fathers Day Breakfast: Sherry Yard's Brioche Doughnuts

So for Fathers Day, I was going to give my husband a clean house. A week later, guess what -- it's still not perfectly clean. But I have to resign myself that it's not going to happen for awhile and get back to blogging.

On Fathers Day, my husband slept in. While we were having breakfast, he opened his gifts. My sons proudly gave him a card they had made together. They had worked together on the card with the door closed for at least an hour the day before (it was bliss). It was a booklet of letter-size paper, folded in half, and looked like a series of cartoons. As my husband looked at it, he saw that it really was a coupon book (as you can see, they aren't the world's greatest spellers).

"Clean our rooms," my husband read with surprise. My eyebrows shot up to my hairline, because getting my sons to clean their rooms verges on the impossible. I've tried cajoling, threatening and even bribing. All it took was Fathers Day?

"Clean a bathroom," he read, and my eyes got wider. My sons stood there with huge smiles on their faces.

"Dust the living room," my husband read. I was flabbergasted. It was like I went to bed with my kids and woke up with kids that were straight out of Family Fun magazine. You know -- the ones who ask for money for orphans in Africa instead of presents at their birthday parties. I was always convinced those kids would wind up in therapy ... "my Mom convinced me to have donations sent to the orphans in Africa ... I really wanted baseball cards, but I couldn't admit that to her because she'd think I was selfish ... ever since then I haven't been able to speak up for my own wants and needs..." Well, those children WERE real! And they were MINE! All my lectures about kindness and thoughtfulness -- not to mention my own shining example -- had finally sunk in!

"Wait, what's this small writing ...," my husband said.

"Not valid on days ending in "y," he read, as my sons started to chuckle.

"Expires June 14," he read as they laughed harder.

"Not valid on any state that we're in," he read as they just about rolled on the ground.

Yep, those are my boys ... hey, at least we got an hour without bickering out of them ... and I haven't given up hope that a kind or thoughtful trait will emerge one of these days...

At any rate, I attempted to be thoughtful. I wanted to start the day with a special breakfast, and I was stumped -- until my husband recalled, for the ump-teenth time the wonderful donuts we had been served at a party at one of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants. It was 2004 and we were in Hollywood for the Pillsbury Bake-off contest. Sherry Yard made an appearance -- and I missed her! But those were the best dang donuts we had ever had -- warm, sugary spicy, and melt-in-your-mouth. Shortly after that, I bought The Secrets of Baking, and although I've referred to it from time to time, I haven't actually made a recipe out of it. I decided to start with her Brioche Donuts. I used the Food Blog search (on my sidebar) to see if any food blogger had made them. Sure enough, Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups had made them and raved about how delicious they were. That made me confident to try them myself.

I made the dough and let it rise on Saturday evening. I popped it into the fridge, where it had its second rising. On Fathers Day morning, I let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then rolled, cut and fried the dough. It was easier than I expected, and the donuts were tasty. My husband (and the whole family) enjoyed them -- BUT -- they weren't the donuts we remembered from the restaurant! Bummer! I've seen recipes for Sherry Yard's Buttermilk Donuts floating around the internet. Maybe those are the donuts we remembered, so I may have to try those next.

Sherry Yard's Brioche Donuts (she spells them Doughnuts)
Adapted from The Secrets of Baking, by Sherry Yard

For the sponge:
3/4 ounce fresh yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (I used 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar

For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (I wasn't sure my family would like this so I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
4 large eggs, lightly beaten (I used 3 extra large eggs because those are what I had in the fridge)
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 quart safflower or sunflower oil for frying (I used organic sunflower oil from Wegmans. I wasn't sure about springing more than $5 for the bottle, but it was worth it. I agree with her note that the oil didn't give the donuts an oily flavor. )

Cinnamon & sugar topping:
Combine: 1 cup sugar & 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Glaze (1/2 recipe) - (if you'd rather have glazed donuts instead of cinnamon & sugar - we preferred the cinnamon & sugar)
Combine: 1 cup powdered sugar + 2 Tablespoons milk + 1/ teaspoon vanilla

Sponge: Combine the yeast and milk in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the flour and brown sugar, forming a (relatively) thick batter. Cover with plastic film and let rest at room temperature for 30-45 minutes, or until bubbles form.

1. Add the flour, salt, cardamom and cinnamon to the sponge, then add the eggs. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, or until the eggs are absorbed. Switch to the dough hook, increase the speed to medium (#4 on my Kitchenaid) and knead the dough for 5 minutes, or until the dough begins to slap around.

2. On medium-low speed, add the butter, 2 Tablespoons at a time. Stop the mixer and occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Knead until the dough is shiny and smooth, about 5 minutes. (I needed to turn the mixer to a higher speed in order for the butter to be incorporated into the dough.) Scrape out the dough, wash and dry the, and coat it lightly with oil. (I transferred it to a Pyrex measuring bowl so that I could see when the dough had doubled.)

3. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and turn it so that the top is coated with oil. Cover with plastic film and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. (Mine rose in about 45 minutes.)

4. When the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down by folding it two or three times. Cover with plastic film and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. (Instead, I popped the dough into the refrigerator overnight. In the morning it had risen by more than double. I let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.)

5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin with handles, roll it out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. If the dough is difficult to handle after rolling, place it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Cut the dough using a donut cutter or two round cutters of graduated size. Dip the cutters in flour each time to make it easier. Once cut, the dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 week. Defrost in the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before frying.

6. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet, wide, heavy saucepan, or deep fryer over medium heat. Insert a candy thermometer. When the oil reaches 350 to 360, carefully place 4 or 5 doughnuts in the oil. Fry for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon to flip them over carefully. Fry the other sides for 1 minute, then flip the doughnuts again and fry for 30 seconds more, or until dark golden brown. Remove the doughnuts from the oil and drain them on paper for 30 seconds before coating them with the sugar. (I found the cinnamon & sugar coated the donuts better if they were tossed in the cinnamon & sugar right after frying. If you don't want cinnamon & sugar, put the doughnuts on a rack and drizzle with the glaze.) Repeat with the remaining doughnuts. Serve immediately. Fried doughnuts stay fresh for only about 2 hours.


Lisa said...

These look delicious! Your sons crack me up!

Anonymous said...

First of all D spelled coupon wrong. Not me.

Second we are not from a Family Fun magazine.

Third you have to admit it was pretty funny.


Emiline said...

Ha! That's so funny. I used to make coupons for my mom too, and I would never follow up on them. They were always for "free backrubs".
The donuts sound really good. I've been craving donuts lately.

Karin said...

And I thought they were going to sign the copon book "love, Mom."

Tracy said...

Lisa, Thanks!

B, yes, it was funny. Thoughtful would have been pretty cool, though.

Emiline, I probably did the same thing with coupons -- made them and forgot them.

Karin, don't give them any ideas! LOL!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Tracy your boys sound like wonderful fun and made for a Father's Day to remember! And the doughnuts look and sound grand.
Like your style.

Veronica said...

Wow-impressive...homemade donuts and kids who say they will clean their rooms (sort of). I'm with Karin I thought the coupons were going to say "...if in the event these tasks are not completed by us, mom will just have to do them-it's the thought that counts"

Karyn said...

This is so funny! I'm so excited to come see you guys! xx

Anonymous said...


Yup ...the recipe is the same as the doughnuts you are at Spago.
We even use the recipe from the book when we need to make small batches!
I like to spell it dough-nuts because of the effort it takes to make the dough. To me donuts are the baking powder quick variety!

Keep on Rolling!
Sherry Yard