SOFT CHEWY BANANA-ROUX DONUTS
Today on a rather short note, let me just tell you how these soft and chewy banana-roux donuts came about.
A few days ago, I received a comment on my Malaysia Feeding Frenzy post, asking me if I ever had the pleasure of tasting “fried banana balls” on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. The good-willed question only left me in a dark corner with distraught and bitterness, bickering with my own failure that how could I, on an epic pop-or-die-trying food-tour of Kuala Lumpur, missed out on something as awesome-sounding as, the fried banana balls? So, in a matter of record speed, the first test-batch of kuih kodok sat around a halo of redemption on my table, waiting to right my wrongs.
Make no mistakes that they were good. Anything that’s mashed bananas mixed with flour leavened by baking powdered then deep-fried, cannot taste bad. But as I sat around burning through those “bread-like” donuts, as well as the calories by vigorous pondering, I still felt a sense of void. The remarkable thing about those donuts was this, that the wet ingredient was 100% made up with mashed/liquified bananas. Zero water. Or milk. Or cream. Just bananas. And I couldn’t help but thinking if it could be implemented into the other kind of donuts, softer but chewy, pillowy and bouncy yeasted donuts that I absolutely love… more. And speaking of soft-but-chewy, pillowy-and-bouncy, I couldn’t think of a better starting point than the Thanksgiving roux bread-recipe, based on the Hokkaido milk toast, that never disappoint.
So here, a yeasted donut-dough that’s enriched with egg and butter like any other, but made special with a banana-roux. This cooked mixture of flour and milk, but in this case purely mashed/liquified bananas, keeps the donuts soft and moist like the interiors of warm-out-of-the-oven white breads. Every bites permeates the gentle sweetness and polite fragrance of bananas, and pairs wonderfully with allspice powdered sugar in a subtle perfection. They dent shyly between the light pressure of your fingers like a giggle, but bounce pleasantly between every satisfying chew, then go down smooth that leaves you wanting for more.
All in all, in a short note, a really great donut. And I believe… I just heard something pop. Redeemed.
- 2 large or 3 small ripen bananas (300 grams peeled)
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp (25 grams) bread flour
- 2 cups (290 grams) bread flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp (43 grams) unsalted butter, soften
- Canola oil for frying
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- TO MAKE THE DOUGH: Combine bananas and light brown sugar in a pot, then mash/liquify the bananas as much as you can with a whisk. Add 3 tbsp of bread flour, mix well, then set over medium heat and cook until the mixture has thickened. Chill in the fridge until just warm to the touch.
- Add the banana-mixture to a stand-mixer bowl (or a large bowl if you're using hand-held mixer with a dough-hook), along with bread flour, large egg, instant dry yeast and salt. Knead on medium speed until elastic and smooth, approx 3~5 min. The dough should feel tacky but not too wet. If the dough feels dry and has difficulty coming together, add a bit more mashed/liquified bananas. Now knead in the unsalted butter, 1 tbsp at a time, until fully incorporated. Increase the speed to high, and knead for 10 min until extremely elastic, shiny and smooth. The dough should be able to stretch out slowly without breaking. Cover the bowl with plastic-wrap and let proof at a warm space for 2 hours, or until doubled.
- Transfer the dough onto a floured surface, and roll out into 1/3" (1 cm) thickness. Cut out as many donuts as you can, then gather the scraps and cut again. You should have about 12~14 donuts, and donut-holes. Transfer the donuts to a lightly-floured baking-sheet, cover with plastic wrap and proof again for 1 hour, until puffy and slightly risen (*sufficient 2nd proofing will make the difference between dense donuts and soft/airy ones*).
- TO FRY THE DONUTS: Add enough canola oil to a frying-pot until it reaches 1 1/2" (4 cm) deep. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a temperature of 350F/175C, or until it bubbles up immediately around an inserted wooden chopstick. Gently lower the donuts into the oil, without crowding the pot, and turn frequently until puffed and golden browned. Drain on a cooling rack and repeat with the rest.
- TO SERVE: Mix powdered sugar together with ground allspice, and spoon generously over the warm donuts.
This recipe is best made with high-gluten bread flour, with protein-content in between 11% ~ 14%. The prolonged kneading which turns it into an extremely shiny, elastic and stretchable dough is also important to develop the desired chewiness. I've never attempted to make this recipe by bare hands, but if you do, I'd imagine it would be quite a work-out but not entirely impossible.