The humble doughnut takes on many forms and many cultures around the world have their own version. Fundamentally all we have is a yeast dough that’s fried in oil until it’s puffed and golden. A liberal dusting with sugar or icing it with more ingredients takes it to another level, as does filling the doughnut.
What we have here is very much how you’d get a doughnut in and around Croatia and its Balkan neighbours. I remember eating these when I was young and also remember seeing them in my brief travels through Croatia over a decade ago. Golden pillows dusted in white sugar, with jam dribbling from a fissure in its side. Yes please!
The recipe I’ve provided comes from a Canadian blogger that shares a Croatian heritage as I do, and the only alteration I made to her recipe was by adding some vanilla paste. The flavour and soft texture of these doughnuts transport me back to being a kid again. These things are just beautiful.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave until tepid. Mix through the 1 teaspoon of flour and sugar and then the yeast. Set aside in a warm place for 5-10 minutes to proof.
Place the 500 g flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, zest and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk to incorporate the ingredients as well as aerate them. Lightly beat the egg, yolk and vanilla and add it to the flour mixture, followed by the milk & yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine then add the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of oil. Knead the mixture gently for at least 5 minutes until it’s smooth and comes away from the bowl. Leave in the bowl, cover with a towel or cling wrap and allow it to sit in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Dust your working surface with flour and turn out the dough. Roll it to 1½ cm thickness and cut rounds using a 6 cm cutter. Remove the off-cuts and roll them again to make more rounds. Allow the rounds of dough to sit, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Turn over and allow to sit for another 15 minutes.
Pour the 1 litre of oil into a large, deep pan. The oil needs to be about 4 cm in depth. Heat over a medium flame and then carefully drop a few doughnuts in at a time, allowing them to cook for up to a minute until golden on one side. Flip them over and cook the other side. Carefully remove them from the oil and allow to drain on absorbent paper as you cook the rest of the doughnuts.
Fill a piping bag with apricot jam and inject it into each doughnut before dusting with icing sugar.