Important cultural discussion time! Did we all read this James Franco love letter to McDonald’s?
I’m no Hemingway myself, but daaaaang. Most significantly, I’m bummed that our boy doesn’t seem to understand what it means to be there for somebody. What it means to be a friend.
Listen, Hollywood: Do not let this man anywhere near a Golden Girls remake. We might end up with Dorothy, Blanche, Sophia, and Rose slinging chicken tenders under the golden arches on the overnight drive-thru shift with McD’s, the honorary fifth GG.
No no no no no.
Also, he describes a McDonald’s cheeseburger as “light” and “airy,” so that’s fun.
But enough mean-girl talk today. Baby Jesus knows I’ve written plenty of uncomfortably earnest, clammy little nuggets of disjointed thoughts on the internet. This is probably one of them — but it’s just a vehicle to bring you these donuts.
They’re foxy beasts, too, oozing with the slightly bitter, sticky, sweet magic that happens when tahini and honey meet, and covered with as much or as little crunchy sesame as you like (I like a lot). Not to mention that the donuts themselves are actually light and airy.
If you’ve been around a while, you know I don’t make donuts much. They’re a lot of work, especially when made the way I want to: fried, not baked (because that’s just cake in disguise), and raised. Cake donuts just never spoke to me the way that the bready, toasty scent and heavenly texture of a good yeast donut do.
Also, I’ve been afraid of frying for ages, but a fire extinguisher under the sink has a way of whispering soothing sweet nothings to the accident-prone (hi).
Reactions like this from friends, though, make it worth it — worth the double rise and chilling time and perhaps a splatter or two of blazing-hot oil on the forearm. If you feel like making someone happy this weekend (your mom?), consider this a gentle suggestion. Especially if you’re friends with James Franco. That man needs a donut (mom first, though).
Either way — have a spectacular weekend, and as always, thank you for being a friend.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter
- 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream (I used 2% Greek yogurt), at room temperature
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4-5 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- Peanut oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey, divided use
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided use
- White or black sesame seeds, or a mixture of both
- Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until most of butter is melted. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, stir the yeast into the warm water with a pinch of sugar and let it stand until foamy, 3 minutes or so.
- In a large bowl, stir together the warm milk mixture (it should be warm, not hot, so as to not cook the egg) and the yeast mixture. Add the sugar, sour cream, eggs and yolk, salt, and vanilla, and stir quickly to combine.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in four cups of flour, one cup at a time. When dough becomes too stiff to stir, turn out onto floured surface and work flour into the dough with your hands. You should have a smooth, slightly sticky, elastic dough. Add more flour as necessary.
- Gather the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled large bowl. Turn to coat, then cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume (around 2 hours) in a warm, draft-free place.
- Punch down the dough and wrap it tightly in plastic (it'll want to rise in the fridge, so it's important to wrap it well). Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- When dough is chilled, roll it out onto a floured surface until about 1/3 inch thick. Using a doughnut cutter (I used a small one about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), cut out rounds. Re-roll the dough scraps to cut out a few more doughnuts. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper as you go. You should get around 15 doughnuts if using a full-sized donut cutter (3 inches in diameter or so), or roughly 30 if using a small one like I did.
- Cover donuts with plastic wrap loosely and let them rise for about 30-40 minutes.
- In a large pot or deep skillet, heat up the peanut oil to 365 degrees. Prepare a rack by lining with several paper towels and fry the donuts for about a minute on each side, until cooked through and golden brown. Transfer with a slotted spoon onto the paper towels as you fry. Be careful to not let the oil get too hot or too cold; keep it between 375 and 350 degrees as best as you can.
- To make filling, stir together 1/2 cup tahini with 1/2 cup of honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip. Poke a hole into the side of each donut using a straw or similarly shaped utensil (I used the handle of a narrow iced tea spoon). Poke the donut with the piping tip and squeeze filling into donut until you feel resistance (it won't take much).
- To glaze and finish donuts, combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of honey and stir until smooth. Fill a small dish with sesame seeds (or do three like I did: white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, and a mixture of both). Dip the top of each donut in honey glaze before dipping into sesame seeds to coat.
- Like all donuts, these are best the day they're made.