black and white donuts + behind the scenes of a blog post!

Happy Tuesday, friends! Today I’m taking you behind the scenes of a blog post because behind the scenes stuff has always fascinated me and also because sometimes I get asked what a typical work day is like and by the time I’m finished explaining my answer I’ve usually lost whoever I’m talking to because it takes too long. My days are always different, one day I might be watching TV all day and making cake, other days I might be lying on the floor with all of my cookbooks open, reading about chicken. Ideally I’m wearing sweatpants but sometimes I brush my hair and put on lip gloss and we will get into when and why. Even though each individual day is different, the arc of creating a blog post, which typically happens over the course of a few weeks or months, is generally the same and fun though! So hold onto your butts because we’re about to get detailed. 

I’m partnering with Intel® on this post because their new Intel NUC Mini PC has helped me streamline the blog post writing process and make it even more fun and organized. 

Phase 1: brainstorming and research. I keep a list on my phone of recipes I want to make and add to it often. These are recipes that are inspired by my heritages, my travels, things I’ve learned about around town (like Funeral Hotdish!!), upcoming holidays, seasons, nostalgic food I grew up with, new ingredients, things I see on Instagram, and things I’m just really gosh darn craving. I schedule them out for blog posts based on what makes sense for upcoming holidays and seasons, and if there’s a recipe I want to make but there are already a million recipes for it on the internet and I don’t feel like I have anything to add to the world of, say, pumpkin blondies, I get rid of it.

When I commit to a recipe, I have a brainstorming session of what the outcome should be. It looks like me sitting on the couch, meditating on the theme of… well in this case, the donut. I think about how it should taste, what it should look like, ideally how it should be made, and, importantly, why I’m evening daring to take up space on the internet about it. Each recipe should serve a purpose, whether it’s to share a new idea or new-to-me ingredient or technique, tell a story, create a new design, or put my spin on an already existing idea. 

In the case of these black and white donuts, I’d never seen a black and white donut before and they sounded tasty and cute looking, so that’s the purpose! In terms of flavor, they should reflect the black and white cookie, which is cakey and flavored with vanilla and lemon, maybe a tiny bit of almond, and has a light tang thanks to either buttermilk or sour cream in the batter. The glaze should be thick and it should dry nicely, providing a sweet delicious shell.

Also coinciding with this brainstorming session is a research phase where I read all about black and white cookies and their history, as many recipes for them as I can find, I look at the #blackandwhitecookie hashtag to get design inspiration, and basically try and do everything short of rewatching the entirety of Seinfeld in order to find the black and white cookie mentions, because at that point that’s safely considered *getting sidetracked*. 

Basically I become one with the black and white cookie/donut. 

And then I write a first draft of a recipe, buy any necessary groceries, and start the best part, phase 2: making stuff!

What used to be constant battles of Molly versus the missing/oil-stained post-it note with all of the recipe scribbles or Molly versus counter space versus a laptop that’s balanced on top of the flour canister is now a streamlined system of pulling up the recipe on my TV screen, which is hooked up to the NUC Mini PC. (You’ve rarely seen my TV screen because I always hide it when my photographers, Chantell and Brett, come to photograph recipes! But it’s how I stay sane working by myself most days, because I can have Bojack on in the background and then toggle over to my word doc to make recipe notes.)

I make a version of the recipe according to the draft, taste it, record any notes, and then copy and paste a new recipe draft with any recipe changes in bold. And I also bring in backup in the form of Eggboy. He may not know the first thing about making a donut but he is a really good taste tester! He is not afraid of telling me when a recipe sucks and is articulate in telling me what needs to change. And then it’s up to me to figure out how to achieve those changes. So then I get back to work and continue to test until it’s basically so good that Eggboy just doesn’t have any words and continues to take bites because he can’t help it and it’s as if the donut has taken over his brain. It might take 26 versions, it might just take 3 or 4.

This recipe didn’t take too many versions because I already had a vanilla baked donut recipe that I liked (in Molly on the Range) and my primary focus was on sneaking in the lemon flavor and paying close attention to how that added acidity affected the rise of the donuts. I honed in on baking soda amounts and played around with a few different measurements there. I also tried a couple of different methods of glazing the donuts and found that a combination of dipping the donuts into the glaze and using a spatula to help it onto the donuts created my fave aesthetic.

After this testing period, leftovers get wrapped up and given to people or stuck in the freezer. These donuts will get defrosted and put out for beet harvest next week!

Once the recipe is where I want it to be, I move on to phase 3: prepping its photo shoot. I write down any particular steps I want to document, think about what angles will make the finished product look the best, pick out props and a wardrobe that will match everything, clean the kitchen, prep ingredients and complete any steps of the recipe that I won’t be showing on camera. For these donuts, I made some finished donuts, some unglazed donuts, some that just had white glaze on them, and a bowl each of chocolate and vanilla glaze. This prep usually happens the day before a shoot and I typically am prepping a few recipes at a time since shoot days often include a handful of recipes. I often have an assistant help with this but my kitchen assistant, Grace, just moved to Michigan :(

Phase 4: photo shoot! The morning of a shoot, I brush my hair and put on makeup! The first time in probably a while. And then Chantell and Brett arrive from Fargo and we get to work! Shoot days are fun because it’s so satisfying to play with finished recipes and we listen to music or have movies on in the background and at the end of the day I try to send them home with as many donuts and cakes as they’ll allow me to give them. 

Once I receive the photos, I sit on my couch and do phase 5: write the post. This is great because it’s cozy and also because I can have the NUC Mini PC hooked up to the hot tub-sized TV that Eggboy *had* to get last year to watch bike races. It’s great though because it’s big enough to see clearly from my couch and the NUC is powerful enough to deal with tons of photos on a regular basis without slowing down.

By this time I’ve been thinking about whatever my post is about for so long that ideally the words just flow right out. Sometimes—ok a lot of times—they don’t though and that might be when I get up and walk to the refrigerator, eat a piece of cheese, take a shower, or look at my phone. This is when 90% of procrastination happens. It’s gotta happen sometime!

Once the post is written, I organize which photos I’m going to use and how they’ll be laid out, and edit the recipe. Those get put into the backend of my site either by me or my assistant Hillary, along with any tags and links. And then it’s posted!

Ta da!

*Eats a donut*

black and white donuts

makes 12-16 donuts

Ingredients

Donuts

1 3/4 c (228g) all-purpose flour

1 c (200g) sugar

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 large egg

1/2 c (120 ml) buttermilk

1/4 c (50 ml) flavorless oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 c (59 ml) water

Vanilla Glaze

2 1/4 c (270g) powdered sugar

1 tb light corn syrup

3-4 tb whole milk or buttermilk

A pinch of kosher salt

A splash of vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze

2 c (240g) powdered sugar

1/4 c (20g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tb light corn syrup

3-4 tb whole milk or buttermilk

A pinch of kosher salt

Clues

To make the donuts: preheat the oven to 375ºF. Coat a 12-cavity donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and zest. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, almond extract, and water. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Fill a piping bag or ziploc bag with a corner snipped off with the batter and pipe the batter into the donut pans, filling each cavity halfway. If you have any remaining batter, you can bake it in a second batch.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool completely. (A mini spatula helps remove them from the pans!)

To make the glazes, first make the vanilla glaze: mix together the sugar, corn syrup, 3 tablespoons of milk, salt, and vanilla. Add additional milk little by little until the mixture is pourable (you might not need the full remaining tablespoon). You want to be careful not to add too much milk because you want the glaze to be thick and opaque, but if the glaze is too thick it will have a hard time sticking to the donuts. You can always make adjustments by adding more powdered sugar to make it thicker or more milk to thin it out. Place a baking sheet or piece of parchment paper underneath the rack with the donuts and dip each donut halfway into the vanilla glaze, scraping off any excess glaze from the bottom and returning to the rack to dry. Let the vanilla glaze dry, 20-30 minutes if you’re impatient like me, but more like an hour or so if you want it to really be nice and solid, and then make the chocolate glaze.

To make the chocolate glaze, use the same method as mixing the vanilla glaze, and then carefully dip the unglazed half of the donuts into the chocolate glaze. With the chocolate side, I find it’s helpful to use a spatula to help the glaze nudge right up against the vanilla. Scrape excess glaze off of the bottom, place back on the rack, and let dry.

Enjoy!

These are best the day of, but can be kept for an additional couple of days at room temp in an airtight container.

-yeh!

photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen

Thank you, Intel, for sponsoring this post! The Intel NUC Mini PC is a small but mighty computer that is shorter than a tennis ball and ready to make photo editing and content creation a breeze. It’s equipped with Windows 10 and the latest Intel Core processors, and videos and movies can be viewed in 4k Ultra HD!

saffron baked marzipan

I witnessed the most Minnesotan thing in the world this weekend: at our lil hotdish Hanukkah party, there were just enough pigs in a blanket to take us until the last hour or so. And then for the last hour there sat exactly one pig in a blanket in the center of the tray. Nobody would take it. I couldn’t believe my eyes: the best food in the world was left there out in the open and no one was taking it, but of course, this is how things go here. In any other situation I would have taken it, obviously, but I was curious to see how long it would go and also I had already had like a million, so I just watched it for a while as I sipped my vodka-y hot chocolate and thought about how you would never ever in a thousand years find one single pig in a blanket all by itself at a party in New York. Am I right??? Here, there’s this system. Someone might come over to take half of it and then someone else would come over to cut off half of the remainder and then another person would cut off half of that, etc., etc., to infinity until nothing but a microscopic dot of a pig in blanket was left. This pattern, the non-finishing of a dish by many people who refuse to have the last bite, is one truly charming phenomenon of Midwestern party food.

[Finally I opened my big mouth and addressed it so that we could discuss this single pig and then Ben From Wisconsin bit off half and handed it to me. I bit off half of that and then handed it back, excited that this was about to become a thing, but then because apparently he was feeling sassy and in the mood for a laugh he popped the rest in his mouth, just like that. People cheered, I frowned.]

Which is all to say that we threw a lovely party, complete with fireside chats and lefse, old friends and new, and I didn’t even have a headache the next day. 

Who all is ready for a holiday break?? I am! Not in like a burnt out way, just in the way that I would kind of like some time to binge Mrs. Maisel and fold laundry. I would also like more time to make boxes of colorful cookies as that’s become one of my favorite holiday things in the last few years. This season I’ve been filling boxes with a lot of sandwich cookies and wreath cookies and of course there always has to be marzipan in some form. 

So today I have for you something that’s inspired by three different cookies: these almendrados, a chewy baked marzipan that Alana and I had by a pool in Malta a long time ago, and the marzipan balls from Breads Bakery that look like they’re going to be boring but taste freaking fantastic. Usually when you think of marzipan you think of kind of a raw dough situation but imagine now that it has a crisp exterior shell and a little more chewiness, thanks to some quick time in the oven. So satisfying! I love these little guys, you can just pop them in your mouth or pile them high into a cookie box because they are so sturdy. 

Making them is a very simple process: whereas most homemade marzipan recipes call for blending nuts into oblivion in a food processor, this recipe skips that step and uses Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour, which is just blanched almonds blended into a fine meal. So no need for a food processor. (If we were making marzipan cake decorations we would want to go the food processor route since the end result is a much smoother dough but in this case, the slightly coarser texture works beautifully.) Saffron adds a bit of very special saffron-y-ness, and they’re actually not complete without a swim in some sprinkles. Sprinkles aren’t optional, you need that extra sweetness and crunch for these to be at their height of tastiness. If you’re fresh out of sprinkles, a coating of turbinado or granulated sugar will be fine too. 

saffron baked marzipan

makes about 50 little balls

ingredients

1/8 tsp saffron, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tsp hot water
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 c (224g) bob’s red mill almond flour
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 large egg

sanding sugar or other sprinkles, for topping

 

 

clues

in a small bowl, combine the saffron, hot water, and almond extract and set aside to steep.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. add the egg to the bowl with the saffron and whisk to combine and then pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture and mix together to form a dough. It might seem like there isn't enough egg mixture to bring it all together at first but just keep on mixing. 

Press the dough into a ball, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll heaping teaspoons of the dough into balls and dip them in sugar. Place on the baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bottoms of lightly browned. Let cool and enjoy!

-yeh!

Thanks to bob's red mill for sponsoring this post!

rose jam sufganiyot with vanilla glaze and pistachios

2017: the year I used up all of my rosewater

I never thought I’d do that because when I first bought it I’d occasionally add a couple of drops here and a couple of drops there but over time I learned to just start pouring in it. Or maybe it was that over time my one bottle of rosewater started weakening and I needed to be adding more. Oh shit. 

(No, I think it’s ok, its expiration date wasn’t until like 2019...)

I’m going to order some of this rosewater now which was recommended to me twice in one weekend, by Maureen and then by Zach, two people I’d trust my floral water life with.

This is part two of my sufganiyot double feature (see part one, starring savory onion jam sufganiyot here) and it contains a dough that you will want to poke your nose straight into. It’s a buttery rich dough scented with cardamom, cinnamon, and orange zest, and after getting fried and filled with raspberry rose jam, it gets a vanilla glaze and crushed pistachios. And rose petals because we are getting fancy. The flavors are inspired by malabi, a Middle Eastern milk custard that’s topped with rose syrup, pistachios, and sometimes a little cinnamon, and I will never stop singing praises about this combo. It is floral and warm and I love it.

A couple of notes:

Rather than piping in the jam from the side, I'm opting to go the top-down route for two reasons, 1) they looks like boobs and you get to call them boobganiyot, and 2) if your jam is on the thinner side, this is a great way to prevent it from spilling out all over the place. 

And just like the onion jam sufganiyot, these are indeed best within a few hours of being made, so for tips on making this as easy as possible and doing prep work ahead of time, see the notes in that onion jam sufganiyot post.


rose jam sufganiyot with vanilla glaze and pistachios

makes 18

ingredients

2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast

1/2 c (120g) warm milk, 105º-110ºf
1/4 c warm water, 105º-110ºf

1/4 c (50g) + 1 teaspoon sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

3 1/2 c (448g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Zest of 1/2 an orange

1 large egg + 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

6 tb (85g) unsalted butter, softened
canola or vegetable, plus more for frying

Filling:
1 c (304g) raspberry jam
1 tb rosewater

Glaze:

1 1/2 c (180g) powdered sugar
2 tb whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
A pinch of kosher salt

Topping:

Crushed roasted pistachios
Dried rose petals

 

 

clues

in a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, 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 the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the salt, flour, cardamom, cinnamon, orange zest, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. add the eggs, vanilla, and yeast mixture and mix to form a very very stiff dough. it will seem like the dry ingredients aren’t all going to get incorporated but try as best you can. knead for a few minutes and then with the mixer on, begin gradually adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon. this, too, will seem like it isn’t going to incorporated into the dough but keep on mixing for about 8-10 minutes more, scraping down the dough hook occasionally, until your dough is smooth and slightly sticky. transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature (or in the fridge, see notes) until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. 

turn the dough out onto a work surface and roll it out to 1/2” thickness. cut out 2 1/2” circles and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment. when re-rolling scraps, first press them together and then allow the dough to sit for about 10 minutes before proceeding. cover the circles with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rise for another hour, until doubled. 

in a large heavy pot fitted with a thermometer, heat 3-4” oil to 350ºf. fry the donuts in batches of 3 or 4, for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. transfer to a wire rack to cool.

meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the jam and rosewater. Taste and adjust as desired. Fill a squeeze bottle or piping bag with the jam. 

To make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth. It should be the consistency of a slightly thicker glue, if it’s too thick add a little more milk, and if it’s too thin add a little more powdered sugar. Dip the cooled donuts into the glaze and let any excess drip off (if the glaze has a hard time sticking to the donuts, that means it’s too thick and that you should add more milk). Stick the squeeze bottle straight down into the center of the donut, wiggle it around to make space, and fill it up with jam. Top with a sprinkle of pistachios and rose petals and enjoy!

-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!

p.s. some quick things!

-i have joined the lineup of speakers at pesach on the mountain, in whistler! i'm so stinkin excited and have made a promise to myself to get o.k. at skiing by then. so if you need me during any weekend over the winter, i will probably be at the bemidji ski hill. and if you are looking for an amazing passover program, i have heard such amazing things about this one. so let's hang out!

-tickets for my class in sioux falls, south dakota are now on sale. i cannot wait to visit the other dakota for the very first time! 

 

onion jam sufganiyot with za'atar, sumac, and yogurt powder

Hello! How was your weekend?? We had such a jolly holiday time tooling around town. We saw the community theater’s performance of White Christmas, had a great brunch at the town fancy restaurant that just started brunch, and did the holiday home tour where you get to tour a bunch of houses that are all dressed up for the holidays. It was so lovely and especially educational in our house planning stage. Eggboy got one of those laser measuring devices so anytime we found ourselves in a nicely sized living room, not too big/not too small/just the right amount of cozy, he would inconspicuously measure it go-go-gadget laser style. It was so cool. Then we came home and drew on graph paper and made hot cocoa with our espresso steamer. Excellent chill weekend!

Welcome to my first annual sufganiyot double feature, starring one savory recipe, one sweet recipe, and one silly sweater that I rented from the internet! Today I’m sharing the savory recipe which includes a buttery garlicky za’atar speckled dough that’s filled with sweet onion jam and dusted with vinegary sumac and yogurt ~powder~ that I had leftover from yogurt book testing. Yogurt powder is a lot like macaroni and cheese powder but tangier and less salty (but do you know what would work great in the absence of yogurt powder, should you not have time to amazon it?? Macaroni and cheese powder.) 

This one is for those people who would rather have a pile of cheese fries than a birthday cake (me). Or who want a next level garlic knot or savory monkey bread or any round bulbous soft hot bread thing (me me me). 

Early next week, right in time for Hanukkah, I’ll be sharing a rose jam sufganiyot recipe that follows the same general method so that you can get two great flavors for the price of one deep frying session. How long has it been since I complained about deep frying, am I due for a kvetch?

Actually on second thought, no time for that, I have to go order some books for Eggboy. The other day I half jokingly suggested that we do “Book Hanukkah” and gift each other one book for each night of Hanukkah (new, used, homemade… I think those are all the options). It was after we drew a two-story library into our home plan. I forgot about Book Hanukkah until a huge Amazon box arrived yesterday that was filled with books that I wasn’t supposed to see. So, ok, gotta go figure out what Eggboys read!!

A couple of notes:

-These are by far the best within a few hours of making them so if you’re looking to prep ahead, here are some tips: make the filling in advance (this can be made a few days in advance). For the first rising, the dough can stay in the fridge for a good day or two. Let it come to room temperature before stamping out your circles. Once you have your circles stamped, you can keep them in the fridge for up to 3 hours. Fry them right before your party, and then maybe hand off the job of filling them to that friend who arrives at the party looking for a job to do in the kitchen. 

-I like frying in cast iron! It does a nice job of maintaining the temperature of the oil.

-You can use any onion jam of your choosing here. I've linked to a super tasty recipe that tastes rather sweet on its own, but once it's in the donuts, it really balances out quite nicely.


onion jam sufganiyot with za'atar, sumac, and yogurt powder

makes 18

ingredients

2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast

1/2 c warm whole milk (105-110ºf)

1/4 c warm water (105-110ºf)
2 tb + 1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt

Black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tb za’atar
3 1/2 c (448g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 large egg + 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
6 tb (85g) unsalted butter, softened

canola or vegetable, for frying

filling/topping:

about 1 c onion jam

a few tb yogurt powder, for dusting 

sumac, for dusting

clues

in a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, 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 the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the salt, a few turns of black pepper, garlic powder, za’atar, flour, and remaining sugar. Add the eggs and yeast mixture and mix to form a very very stiff dough. It will seem like the dry ingredients aren’t all going to get incorporated but try as best you can. Knead for a few minutes and then with the mixer on, begin gradually adding the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon. This, too, will seem like it isn’t going to incorporated into the dough but keep on mixing for about 8-10 minutes more, scraping down the dough hook occasionally, until your dough is smooth and slightly sticky. transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature (or in the fridge, see notes) until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. 

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and roll it out to 1/2” thickness. Cut out 2 1/2” circles and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment. When re-rolling scraps, first press them together and then allow the dough to sit for about 10 minutes before proceeding. Cover the circles with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rise for another hour, until doubled. 

In a large heavy pot fitted with a thermometer, heat 3-4” oil to 350ºf. Fry the donuts in batches of 3 or 4, for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, fill a piping bag fitted with a large round tip with the onion jam. Using a skinny knife, poke holes into the tops of cooled donuts and rotate the knife to create space for the jam. Pipe the jam into the holes. Dust the donuts with a light dusting of yogurt powder and sprinkle with za’atar and sumac. Enjoy! 
 


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!