November 21, 2008

Bomboloni con Crema di Vaniglia

Studying abroad in Florence a few years ago introduced me to a myriad of food delights: the fresh produce at Il Mercato Centrale, tomatoes that tasted like tomatoes, juicy blood oranges that I purchased 2 kilos at a time, the panini bollito at Nerbone, good cappuccino, gelato, gnocchi, mozzarrella di bufala... The list just goes on and on.

One of my favorite treats though, was the bomboloni. It just might trump gelato, although just barely. By a smidge. Nothing was better than picking up one on my way to class, sinking my teeth into the tender, soft dough, the rich custard oozing out, brushing the sugar away from my lips. Heaven. (The Florentine version is covered with sugar, but I omitted them from mine because the dough and custard are sweet enough, really.)

I've been nostalgic over the past few weeks and suddenly had a hankering for bomboloni. I absolutely HAD to have some, and in the spirit of DIY that has bitten me lately, I turned to the internet and found a recipe. These didn't taste exactly like the ones I had in Italy, and the custard was too thin to inject into the doughnut, but they were addictive nevertheless.

I highly advise using a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the oil for frying. I didn't have one and guestimated: the first two sacrificial lambs promptly puffed up and turned black within 5 seconds.

Bomboloni con Crema di Vaniglia
recipe halved, slightly modified, original by Gina DePalma via Leite's Culinaria
I ended up with about 18 doughnuts

Vanilla Custard:
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
6 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of salt

1/4 cup warm water
2-1/2 teaspoon (1 package) active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon + 1/4 cup sugar, divided
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon milk, warmed
2 eggs
4 tablespoons butter, softened

Vanilla Custard:
Mix milk, cream, vanilla bean seeds (scraped off pod), vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup sugar into a small saucepan and set over medium heat.

While the milk mixture is heating, place the egg yolks, salt, and remaining sugar into a large bowl and whisk. When the milk mixture starts to boil, remove from heat and slowly pour a small amount into the eggs, whisking the entire time--don't pour too much at once or you'll end up with scrambled eggs. Continue adding the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking, until incorporated. Then pour everything back into the saucepan and set over low heat. Make sure to whisk continually to prevent the custard from scorching. It's delicate.

When the custard has thickened a little, remove from heat and set over an ice bath to chill, whisking occasionally. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Dissolve the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in the warm water. Let the yeast proof until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, spices, and remaining sugar. Add the yeast, warm milk, and eggs, and mix until the dough is smooth. Mix in the butter, then mix until a smooth, soft, and somewhat elastic dough forms, adding additional flour if needed.

Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover with a slightly damp cloth or plastic wrap. Set the bowl in a warm place free of drafts and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough until 1/2 inch thick, and using a 1 to 1-1/2 inch cutter, cut out the doughnuts. Place them on a floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let them proof while the oil heats.

Heat oil in a pan to a depth of at least 2 inches to 360°F (182°C). Fry the doughnuts a few at a time, turning them until they are golden brown on both sides.

Drain the doughnuts on paper towels. Roll them in sugar while still warm if you like. Best if served warm with the vanilla custard for dipping.


Patricia said...

Remind me again, WHY we don't live in Italy? Because that is where we need to be. pronto.

Christina said...

And before Venice sinks!

marissa said...

I can't stop looking at this... I think it's time for me to go back to Italy. Shucks.

Christina said...

It's always time to go back to Italy!