Life was not easy for my family growing up. We were new to the country (Canada), with barely any money, English or knowledge of what the western culture was like. The language, the food, the shopping and the holidays were all so very different including Christmas-something that wasn’t celebrated by Koreans back in the 70’s. Christmas of course, the most revered and celebrated by the western world was hard to avoid for my folks. It was everywhere, the malls, the streets, TV. In fact my first memory of Christmas was when I was 4 years old. It was of my parents trying to figure out how to erect and decorate a Christmas tree for the very first time. All the meanwhile my father summarizing the Gospel of Luke and explaining how it was a lovely ‘fairytale’ invented by a group of people called ‘Christians’ and how Santa Claus was created to scare kids to behave. I distinctly remember him declaring, “So that means I’m Santa Claus. And if you obey me, you will get presents”. Yeah you could say my dad was the ultimate party pooper or just really fatigued and lost in this brave new world.
By the time I was 10, our family skipped the tree and barely had anything festive in the home. Okay maybe a poinsettia or two. But that was it. Christmas eve dinner was usually at a Japanese or Korean restaurant where we exchanged gifts still in their original plastic bags. I shake my head in disbelief as I write this. But this was my family. My parents were too busy working hard to stay afloat to support three very sprightly growing girls so holidays were definitely not a priority. My family had plenty of spirit just no Christmas spirit. By the time I hit high school, we Shins decided to eschew Christmas. At the time it didn’t concern us. Until I had kids of my own. It was then I realized I had few Christmas memories.
Once I had kids, I found myself doing the complete opposite of what my dad did. I was buying elf on the shelf and shifting the creepy little doll around every night and looking forward to my kids look of bewilderment and excitement (and maybe a bit of fear! Lol) when they’d see Elf had moved while they were sleeping. Telling my kids lovingly about how Santa watches kids all over the world to see who’s been naughty or nice. I even went as far as telling my 10 year old that her friends were liars when they told her Santa was bogus. And of course I began to bake with my kids… Cookies with a diy sprinkle buffet became a tradition (and a nightmare for vacuuming). And opening WRAPPED presents, wearing crowns at Christmas dinner and dancing in front of the Christmas tree with Feliz Navidad blaring.
So I lied. I do have Christmas memories. I’ve made them for 11 years and I’ll continue to make them for as long as I’m able and I hope you can too.
Wishing you all a very Happy Holiday. Best wishes for health and happiness in 2018. xo
- 6 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cup milk (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
- 200 g or 1 cup + 3 teaspoons white granulated sugar
- 880 g or 6 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs room temperature
- 85 g or 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 8 cups vegetable oil
- 650 ml of freshly squeezed mandarins (about 15)
- 100 ml 35% cream
- 8 egg yolks
- 200 g or 1 cup of granulated white sugar
- Zest of 3 tangerines
- 60 g or 1/2 cup plus 1 table spoon of corn starch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 200 g or 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
- 300 g or 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- Warm milk to a simmer in small sauce pan until it reaches a heat of about 110F which is basically very warm but not uncomfortably warm when touched. Remove from heat and add the 3 teaspoons of sugar and yeast. Allow to get foamy and puff about 10 minutes or so
- Sift flour into stand mixer bowl with kneading hook attachment.
- Add the eggs, sugar (dough qty) and mix until batter is a bit shaggy...add the butter, and salt.
- Add the yeast milk mix and knead for about 8 minutes or until the dough has come together and is soft, smooth and bounces back when poked.- add spoon of milk if too dry or flour if too wet and knead again
- Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and allow to rise for about 2 hours in a warm area of home.
- Once the dough has doubled, cut into thirds. (***unless you have already scaled this recipe back to make less donuts then there is no need to cut into thirds)
- Roll out each third onto a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness.
- Use a 2 1/2 inch round biscuit/cookie cutter and cut about 20 rounds.
- Reuse scraps by re rolling and cutting (only re roll once, discard remaining dough)
- Place donut pucks onto trays lined with parchment paper and cover with a moist kitchen cloth and allow for the second rise about 20-30 minutes room temperature.
- Put vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, (370 degrees on a candy thermometer - If you don't have one..get one!) drop about 5 donuts in with a slotted spoon.(cook 5 at a time)
- Fry each side about 40-50 seconds. If oil is too hot the dough will turn a dark brown, turn down heat. You want to fry until golden.
- Use the slotted spoon to transfer the donuts to a baking sheet lined with paper towel.
- Roll in sugar while the donuts are still warm and transfer to a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- To save time, I drop the next 5 donuts into the oil by the time I'm sugaring the 3rd donut.
- In a medium sauce pan, simmer the mandarin juice and cream
- In stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, mix the egg yolks, sugar, salt and mandarin zest until light smooth and pale about 3 minutes
- Add the cornstarch in slowly and mix until smooth
- Pour about half the warm Mandarin/cream mixture into the egg/sugar mixture while the paddle is stirring
- Stir until combined. Scrape the stand mixer bowl
- Transfer to the medium sauce pan with the rest of the Mandarin/cream and whisk constantly on medium heat until it starts to boil.
- Once it starts to bubble, reduce heat to medium low and whisk continuously for another minute
- Remove from heat and add the butter cubes and Grand Marnier (Optional)
- Stir till butter is fully incorporated.
- Pour pastry cream through a sieve onto a tray lined with parchment paper.
- Cover with plastic wrap pressing against the pastry cream so no skin forms
- Refrigerate until ready to use
- When ready to use, give the pastry cream a quick low speed mix with the paddle attachment to get it pipe-able and smooth to use
- Use a skewer or better yet, a chopstick to make a hole in the donuts
- Fill a piping bag with the mandarin pastry cream with a #806 or #4 tip or even cutting out a small1/2 cm hole in a strong ziplock baggie can work
- Pipe cream into donuts
- You're ready to stack!
- *******PLEASE NOTE THIS RECIPE IS FOR A TOWER OF DONUTS!!! To make a reasonable amount for a family of 4-5 people, use only a third of the ingredients here to yield about 20 donuts
- Donuts should be eaten the same day but can be stored in an air tight container for up to 2 days in the fridge.