challah donuts + australia

it was like i had traveled in time to get there! from sweaty picnics at ravinia with fresh tomatoes and basil to cozy mountain evenings by the fire with hot mugs of soup. so bonkers! but very welcome because you know how much i love the cozy indoors. 

each morning, pip and haddy and sophie were bustling about the kitchen by sunrise, roasting pumpkin and lighting the fire place. the smells, the energy, and the way the air felt were all identical to thanksgiving morning, i was in heaven. ooh and on one morning, maggie the farm dog and i took a little stroll to go find kangaroos! i saw three at a distance, hop hop hopping away. i squealed and giggled.

we spent our days in sweaters and scarves with cameras glued to our hands, outside was crisp like an apple, and when sufjan came echoing through the dining room i fully submitted to autumn and no amount of tweets out of new york with kvetchings about the heat could hold me back. 

should i get a summer home in australia so that i can have sweater weather all year round? i’ll add it to the chrismukkah list.

what surprised me most about my time in australia, however, were the similarities between here and there. the architecture i saw was so similar, and the surroundings in the city felt like san diego and boston and in the mountains, like wisconsin. the workshop attendees came from all over the country and it struck me how much we aligned with our values, backgrounds, ambitions, the things we liked and our humor… you know how sometimes you meet someone in another country and even though you might understand the words that they’re saying, you feel that they’re just speaking another language and culture entirely? it’s not a bad thing at all, but this was the opposite of that and completely unexpected. i wonder if it’s because our countries are about the same age and melting pot-y. i guess there’s the whole british history too.  it was just such a pleasant surprise to feel so at home so far away. 

ugh i’m getting so mushy, i know. but i really felt like australia was part of the u.s. and the u.s. was part of australia. with vastly different pronunciations of "tahini." 

of course, however, this whole cozy at-home feeling is also because of sophie and luisa, the masterminds behind the local is lovely workshop, who are two of my new favorite people in the whole wide world. they are so kind and smart and generous and the dynamic they created with the whole group of participants was so darn lovely. if you ever happen to be in the market for a food photography workshop, i would recommend theirs 110%. (skye mcalpine will be there in october!!! go go go!)

you know that maya angelou quote about how it’s not what people say that you remember, it’s how they made you feel? i’m going to have the best memories of this weekend because of all those warm fuzzy happy feelings fluttering about. so so great. 

one thing i loved about this workshop was the small group hands on time where all of the participants rotated through luisa’s tapas scene, sophie and pip’s bread and butter scene, and my donut scene. it was citrus season there, so i went wild with blood oranges and made a curd and glaze. the heart of this recipe is the challah dough, though, which can be fried and filled with any curd/custard/cream you’d like and topped with powdered sugar or any glaze. it’s a choose-your-own-adventure donut that can be adapted to the seasons, no matter where in the world you are.

challah donuts

makes 12


2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable, plus more for frying

i used this citrus curd, but you can also use buttercream or pastry cream or just leave them plain!

2 c powdered sugar
2 tb cream
blood orange juice (or other juice)


in a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar and give it a little stir. let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top. 

meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the salt, flour, and remaining sugar. in a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil.

when the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture immediately followed by the egg mixture and stir to combine. knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook for 7-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary (but try not too add too much), until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.

transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. 

fill a large heavy pot fitted with a thermometer with 2” of oil and heat over medium high heat to 360º f.

on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2” thickness. use a biscuit cutter to cut out 3” circles, re-rolling scraps until the dough is used up. cover the circles with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 more minutes. fry in batches for 1-1 1/2 minutes on both sides and use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a wire rack. let cool.

use a piping bag to pipe the filling into the donuts.

combine the powdered sugar, cream, and a splash of juice and mix until the glaze is a spreadable consistency, adding additional splashes of juice as needed.

dip donuts into glaze, add sprinkles or other decorations, and let the glaze set for a few minutes. serve and enjoy!