With January now over and done with, I'm guessing people have been eating pretty healthily after overindulging at Christmas.
Well, it's time to reward yourself with a treat! Maybe some of you don't think the words 'vegan' and 'treat' can be used in the same sentence when it comes to food, but I'm telling you now - you're wrong!
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When I get the odd quiet moment at the restaurant I like to experiment with recipes that will please the customers as well as the staff.
Over the last few days I have seen quite a few faces light up at the sight of these warm sugary donuts sitting on the countertop.
Not only are they really easy to make, they are guaranteed to make you someone's favourite person for the day.
Just make sure there's some fresh coffee brewing whilst you're making these, as it's the only way to eat them.
Most big supermarkets carry a good selection of dairy-free items, and if you're lucky enough to still have a local whole foods or independent grocer like Roots & Fruits close by then they'll stock much of what you'll need, too.
You can use sunflower spread instead of butter or dairy margarine and soya milk and apple puree is also stocked in most shops.
If you can't find the latter anywhere, it's really easy to make your own. I've detailed the recipe for it below.
For the apple puree
1 Wash, core and quarter four apples and put them in a large pot with enough water to cover them.
2 Boil until the apples are soft, and then with a little bit of the cooking water blend them till they turn to a puree.
3 If you want a little more flavor, a teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg is quite nice to add to it, and the puree can also be frozen it you're making it in bulk.
For 16 donuts:
1 7g sachet of yeast powder
1 cup warm water
¼ cup dairy free margarine
½ cup caster sugar
80ml soya milk
¼ cup of apple puree
500g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 Empty the yeast into a jug with half of the warm water and allow it to stand.
Pour the rest of the water into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and margarine and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl and let it cool slightly. Mix in the milk, and then add the yeast mix.
2 Mix the salt and apple puree into the wet mix and stir, then start adding the flour and keep mixing with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Empty the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until soft and elastic - you may need to add slightly more flour until it's stopped sticking.
3 Flour a bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until its doubled in size.
4 Take the dough out then roll out on a floured surface until it's about half an inch thick. Cut out large circles with a large scone or pastry cutter use the smallest one for the characteristic donut hole. You can reuse the scraps as you are rolling. Place the donuts onto floured baking paper, cover with a tea towel and let rise for about another hour. Once doubled in size the donuts are ready to be fried.
5 Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot and make sure it isn't too hot - it should be about 185c. Its best to use a thermometer but you can get away with testing a little piece to begin with.
6 Drop the doughnuts into the hot oil; they should start to cook straight away but not burn. You don't want to overcrowd your pan; normally three at a time are fine. Cook for about two to three minutes on either side, turning them over once they have an even golden colour about them. Remove with tongs or a metal basket and let rest on a kitchen towel to remove any excess oil.
7 Prepare your toppings while waiting for the donuts to rise. For the sugar coated ones I toss them in castor sugar straight away. The glazed ones can also be coated while still hot but the chocolate covered ones should be a little cooler. Once tossed, drizzled or coated to your satisfaction, place them on baking parchment to cool completely.
Dip the warm donuts in caster sugar until evenly coated.
Melt ½ cup of dark chocolate and add a couple of tablespoons of soya milk to give them a glossier consistency.
Mix a cup of icing sugar with a few teaspoons of water and dip the donuts in the mix. Also consider using maple syrup instead of water to give a maple glaze.