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    Rhubarb & custard doughnuts

    by Martha Collison

    • Preparation time: 90 minutes + proving and cooling
    • Cooking time: 25 minutes to 30 minutes
    • Total time: 115 minutes - 120 minutes + proving and cooling

    Makes: 12

    Ingredients

    For the doughnuts
    75g unsalted butter, cubed
    125ml whole milk
    400g strong white bread flour, plus extra if needed
    ½ tsp salt
    7g sachet fast action dried yeast
    50g caster sugar, plus 3 tbsp extra for rolling
    2 British Blacktail Medium Free Range Eggs, beaten
    2L sunflower oil, for deep frying and oiling

    For the custard filling
    1 British Blacktail Medium Free Range Egg, yolk only
    15g plain flour
    25g caster sugar
    125ml whole milk
    ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
    75ml double cream

    For the rhubarb filling
    150g forced rhubarb, finely chopped
    30-40g caster sugar, to taste

    Method

    1. To make the doughnuts, gently heat the butter and milk in a pan, until the butter has melted and the milk is warm. Put the flour into a mixing bowl, add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Tip the sugar into the bowl and make a well in the middle of the flour mixture.

    2. Pour the warm milk mixture and the beaten eggs into the flour, and stir together using a round-ended knife, until all the flour is incorporated and forms a soft, sticky dough.

    3. Knead the dough on a lightly oiled work surface for 5-10 minutes, or until it forms a smooth ball. Add a little extra flour if it’s too sticky. It should spring back when you poke it with your finger. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size (about an hour).

    4. On a work surface, fold the dough in on itself a few times to knock out any large air bubbles. Divide into 12 even pieces and shape into small balls. Arrange on a piece of baking parchment, cover and leave for 30-45 minutes, or until noticeably larger. Meanwhile, line a baking tray with kitchen paper and pour the caster sugar onto a second tray.

    5. To make the custard, whisk the eggs, flour and caster sugar together with a splash of the milk. Pour the rest of the milk into a pan and add the vanilla bean paste. Heat until steaming, then gradually pour onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time.

    6. Once combined and smooth, transfer the mixture back into the pan and return to the heat. Whisk for at least 5 minutes, or until thickened. Spoon into a bowl, cover, cool, then chill until cold. Whip the cream to soft peaks, then add to the cold custard and fold together. Spoon into a piping bag.

    7. Make the compote by combining the chopped rhubarb with the sugar and ½ tbsp of water in a medium saucepan. Heat, stirring often, until the rhubarb becomes a purée (around 5-10 minutes), cool and adjust the sugar to taste, then chill until very cold and spoon into a piping bag.

    8. In a large heavy-based pan, heat the oil to 160°C (see my tip). Deep fry the doughnuts in batches, cooking for 1½-2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon onto the tray lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

    9. When the doughnuts are cool enough to touch, roll them in the caster sugar to coat. With a skewer, make a small hole in the side of each and move it about to form a cavity.

    10. Fill each doughnut with rhubarb compote, then repeat the process with the custard until every doughnut is filled. Best eaten immediately.  

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    Martha’s tip
    If the oil is too hot, the doughnuts will brown too quickly on the outside and still be raw in the middle. Too cold, and the dough will be greasy and oily. A sugar thermometer is the best tool to get things just right, but if you don’t have one, try dropping a small piece of bread into the oil. It should sizzle when it comes into contact with the oil, but take 1-2 minutes to brown.

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