Citizens, I write you with great excitement now from 39,000 feet in the air, on a flight from Finland to Norway, to tell you about a magnificent treat I first tried yesterday in far northern Finland!
I was eating at the cafeteria of the University of Oulu, when a beacon of heavenly northern sunlight arced through a window to highlight a humble sugar donut.
Sensing the undeniable hand of divine intervention, I bought it. Tasted it…and fell in love with a fantastic cardamom-scented sugar donut worthy of TFD’s unmatched palate!
In Finland, donuts are called monks (munkki, in Finnish). They are so named as a reference to tonsures, a hairstyle often worn by monks. It is called so because the tonsure is a hairstyle where hair goes all around the head but is bald on the top, thus referencing the shape of the ring donut.
The cardamom flavor is what makes this donut truly special – I’ve made a few tweaks to the classic recipe by using Finnish birch syrup as a unique sweetener (maple syrup is also effective) and using vanilla sugar instead of regular granulated sugar.
This is a fantastic dessert, Citizens, worthy of your collective sweet tooth! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
15g / 2 (.25oz) bags of dried, active yeast
1 dl/ ½ cup water
3 dl / 1.5 cups 2% (kevytmaito) warm milk
1 dl / ½ cup birch syrup (preferred) or maple syrup
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ teaspoons ground cardamom
50 g / ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
12 dl / 6 cups flour (higher protein bread flour preferred, though all-purpose is traditional)
Vanilla granulated sugar (preferred) or regular granulated white sugar
Pour the water into a large mixing bowl or into the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. Allow the water to absorb the yeast for 5 minutes. Add the milk, maple syrup, salt, cardamom, eggs, butter, and 3 cups of flour. Mix with the flat beater in a stand mixer until well-combined or with a regular hand-held mixer.
Continue to add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl. If you are using a hand mixer, you will need to finish this process by hand, on the counter, kneading the remaining flour into the dough. Be careful here: your goal is a nice soft dough that is slightly sticky. You may not need all of the flour – aim for between 5.5 – 6 cups total.
Once the dough is smooth and elastic, grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, flipping it once to grease both sides. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place, until doubled in size: 30-45 minutes.
Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Flour your rolling pin and roll the dough out into 1/2″/ 1.3cm thickness. Cut out donut rounds using a donut cutter.
You can reroll the dough scraps to make more donuts, or cut them into small pieces, roll them into little rounds, and let them rise, and them fry them like donut holes.
Cover the donuts with a clean dish towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes.
Frying the donuts:
Line two baking pans with parchment paper and set a wire rack over the top to of each to catch the drips.
Pour ½ liter/½ quart of oil into a 3 liter/3 quart heavy-bottomed pot (a cast iron pot is ideal). You can use a larger pot, but you’ll need to add more oil to get the right depth. You want 2-3 inches/5-8cm of oil in the pot.
Heat the oil to 175°C/350°F. Fry a test donut to make sure the oil is at the right temperature. You’ll know it’s ready when a donut hole dropped into the oil browns in about a minute.
Fry 2 – 3 donuts at a time. Donuts take 1-2 minutes per side to fry, and are done when they are a dark golden brown. Flip, and fry the other side. Fry 2 – 3 donuts at a time. Using a slotted spoon, remove the donuts from and place on a wire rack. Once cool enough to handle, put granulated vanilla sugar (or regular) in a plastic or paper bag, or in a small bowl, for coating the donuts.
If you put the sugar in a bag, you can add the hot donuts, fresh from the oil, and shake it. If you choose to put the sugar in a bowl, you can quickly turn the donut in the sugar, effectively coating the whole thing.
Allow to cool to room temperature and devour with sima or coffee. They can be also be frozen.