A single, golden zeppola would satisfy for dessert, but chef Bonnie Moore serves these with a spiked apple compote and brown sugar ice cream.
You'll need a 2- or 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter and chopsticks, and it’s helpful to have an instant-read thermometer to monitor the frying oil. The recipe can be doubled; a double batch of dough will fit in a 5-quart mixer bowl. If you like glaze, double the preparation here.
Make Ahead: The dough needs to rise twice, for a total of 2 1/2 hours.
Servings: 18 3-inch balls
- For the doughnuts
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, soft yet still cold, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil, for frying, plus more for the work bowl
- For the glaze
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh apple cider, or more as needed
For the doughnuts: Whisk together the yeast, milk, honey and 1 cup of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Add the remaining flour, then the salt and cardamom, if using; beat on low speed until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating on medium speed until thoroughly blended.
Switch to a dough-hook attachment. Knead on medium speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, making sure they are well incorporated before the next addition.
Grease the inside of a large mixing bowl with a little oil.
Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning the dough over so its surface is coated with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Punch down the dough to deflate it, then turn the dough over in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk together the sugar and cider in a medium bowl until completely smooth, adding cider as needed for a pourable consistency. Cover and keep at room temperature.
Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a work surface. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels, then seat a wire cooling rack on top.
Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Use the cutter to cut out rounds; scraps can be rerolled. The total yield should be about 18.
Working in batches of 3 or 4 at a time, carefully lower the rounds into the hot oil. Fry until golden on the bottom, about a minute, then use the chopsticks to turn the doughnuts over. Fry until evenly golden all over. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the rack to drain.
Immediately spoon just enough glaze over each doughnut to coat the top; the glaze will slowly coat the sides. Serve right away.
Adapted from Willowsford Culinary Director Bonnie Moore.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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