Salted Caramel Cinnamon Doughnuts

There is only one appropriate thing to do on a hot summer’s day: hide in your air-conditioned abode and fry up some doughnuts.

Now, I hadn’t tried Rise’n Roll’s Caramel Cinnamon Doughnuts before I made these. I had only heard my co-workers drool on and on about them; from what I had witnessed on Google, they looked like one bite would ascend you straight to heaven.

This past week, one office manager brought a box of Caramel Cinnamon doughnut holes from Rise’n Roll to share with the floor. They were dang good. I went with a lighter touch when I made these, but if I had absolutely drenched them in caramel and powdered sugar, they would’ve been spot on.

Salted Caramel Cinnamon Doughnuts
adapted from CHOW and Sally McKenney

For about 30 “pillows”, or 12 doughnuts and 12 doughnut holes:
For the dough:
2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup whole milk, warmed to 105°F to 115°F
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the salted caramel:
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (90g) salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt

For cinnamon topping:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the warm milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour and the butter and mix until incorporated. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough is soft and smooth (it will be slightly sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free place to rise for 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
  2. Lightly flour 2 baking sheets. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut 2×1-inch strips. (Alternatively, cut with a floured donut cutter, or a 3- to 3-1/2-inch biscuit cutter, using a 1-1/2-inch biscuit cutter to form the donut holes.) Discard the dough scraps, or cut into pieces to fry separately after the donuts are done, as snacks.
  3. Place the donuts and donut holes at least 1 inch apart on the baking sheets and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise a second time until they are puffy and nearly double in size, about 15 to 30 minutes. The donuts are ready when the dough springs back slowly after being touched with a fingertip (if it springs back at once, it needs more time; if it collapses, it has overproofed and you can reroll the dough and cut it once).
  4. While the donuts rise, fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of oil (the oil should not come more than halfway up the sides of the pan). Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 360°F. Using a spatula, carefully lower a few donuts into the oil; do not crowd the pot. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning a few times, until the donuts are a light golden brown and cooked through. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon, drain on a wire rack over a paper towel, and let cool slightly before glazing or tossing in sugar. Repeat with the remaining donuts and donut holes. Be sure to keep the temperature consistent while frying.
  5. After you have fried up all the dough, make the caramel sauce. Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  6. Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn. (This will take a few minutes.)
  7. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
  8. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.
  9. Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
  10. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.
  12. Mix the powdered sugar and cinnamon in a bowl while the caramel is cooling. Then, take each doughnut and drench it in the caramel. Finally, roll each caramel-covered doughnut in the cinnamon mixture.
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