Kamal Grant, a CIA trained chef, is the owner of Atlanta’s Sublime Doughnuts. His bakery has received many honors and has developed a large following of foodies. He writes, “I got into this business because I love sweets. Sweets make people happy, and my culinary career is dedicated to spreading joy and doughnut love.”
It was natural, then, for him to create a cookbook called, Homemade Doughnuts . Techniques and Recipes for Making Sublime Doughnuts.
With beautiful photographs accompanying each recipe, this cookbook is divided into nine chapters:
– The History of the Doughnut
– Doughnut Basics, Ingredients, & Equipment
– Doughnut-Making Techniques
– Doughnut Recipes
– Glazed and Icings
– Around the World in Doughnuts
– Creative Doughnut Combinations
The heart of Homemade Doughnuts is the chapter containing the base recipes. The formulas here go beyond the old standbys of cake and yeast raised doughnuts to include fritters, funnel cakes, fried hand pies, gluten free doughnuts, and more.
In testing the recipes, the yields stated in the recipes were not always what I got. A whole batch of the plain yeast doughnuts is supposed to yield only 12-15, but I always ended up with more than that. The yield was never less than stated.
Who Should Have This Book
Kamal Grant has written an excellent book with Homemade Doughnuts, but it is not necessarily for everyone. The recipes are clear, concise, and delicious, but they are written in the professional baker’s tone. All recipes include the ingredient’s weight in grams as well as volumetric measurements. A few recipes give baker’s percentages rather than cups and tablespoons with which most home-cooks are accustomed. The instructions are reminiscent of the textbook style of many of the Culinary Institute of America’s books. For the most part, I found the directions sufficient, but to someone new to baking, they might seem a bit sparse.
For example, Mr. Grant gives a thorough explanation of the reason to scald the milk used in his recipes, but he does not mention at what temperature this happens. While this is not difficult information to discover, it is part of the base knowledge assumed of the reader.
When serving a Spanish themed dinner to our staff, we made the churros for dessert. They rank as one of the best things we tasted this summer. The instructions call for a pastry bag with a star tip. We discovered the hard way that a normal, disposable pastry bag is not meant to cope with a stiff filling of such high temperature, and the bags bulged alarmingly before splitting open. I had a cloth pastry bag stashed in a cupboard and so was able to rescue the situation, but not everyone is so lucky. Many books aimed at home cooks mention things like this.
Mr. Grant is a highly capable chef, and most of these recipes are taken from those used in his bakery. This is a delight, but not all of them are well suited to the average home-cook’s equipment. A full batch of the standard yeast raised doughnuts (also excellent) is a fairly stiff dough that calls for nearly 2 pounds of flour and needs to be beaten on medium speed for 10 minutes or more; this should probably not be attempted in a non-commercial grade mixer. Even a half batch is right at the resistance limit of a 6qt. KitchenAid.
The glazes and icings section is first-rate. Here again the recipes are designed for large- scale operations. After all, 4 cups of peanut butter icing, however tasty, is more than most situations require. However, with measurement provided in grams, the ease of scaling the recipes in this book surpasses most home cookbooks.
The Sweetest Section
One of the best features of Homemade Doughnuts is Grant’s list of “Creative Combinations”. This is where all of the book’s recipes are showcased in inspiring and alluring synthesis. These range from classics like a milk chocolate glaze with coffee custard filling, to intriguing pairings like salted caramel icing and a balsamic vinegar reduction. Forty eight combinations are pictured, and the recipe to create each one is listed below the photo. For example, to make “Kentucky’s Best,” you use the Plain Yeast Raised Dough (page 32), the Bourbon Icing (page 107), and the Apple Butter Filling (page 113).
Real Bottom Line
After being ushered into the wondrous world of doughnut love by Homemade Doughnuts, I give it a hearty recommendation to anyone with a solid grounding in baking. However, if you are looking at this book as an early foray into pastries and baking rather than as an expansion into doughnuts, you may find some aspects of it daunting and therefore frustrating. – by Spencer George, RFT Contributor and Chef, Latigo Ranch