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Rhubarb Syllabub Doughnuts {from Comfort by Candice Brown}

25 November 2017

The original start to this post - when I began drafting it over a week ago - was Hello November! But alas, as I sit here furiously typing on 25th November, it feels a little late for such a beginning. December is well and truly in sight and, as shop windows begin to glitter and my efforts to cross Oxford Street every evening become increasingly futile, I feel a little overwhelmed at how quickly this year has passed.

2017 has been quite a year - more on that, I promise, in my annual days-in-between post (which I had better start drafting, yikes!). After a mad few months, it is comforting and cathartic to be back at my keyboard, and back in my little corner of the internet. I try to avoid apologising on Pudding Lane - if you can't run a dictatorship on your own blog, where can you? - but I am sorry that I've not been able to post as frequently this year. It is hard to articulate what this little space means to me, and to post half-hearted recipes and write scrambled introductions would feel, to me at least, a disservice (to me and to you!).

What can I say? Conceptualising, testing, perfecting, styling, shooting and typing up recipes takes time - and time is something that I have not felt very on top of lately. A year of spinning plates has led to so many fantastic things, but has also sadly been to the detriment of my blog, my social life and at times, my sanity! And so, when I met the fabulous Candice Brown last weekend, I felt as if she was speaking to my soul.

I'm sure Candice needs little introduction - GBBO winner, Sunday Times columnist, author and soon to be ice-dancer - it's safe to say that Candice is spinning plates too (about twice as many as I am, in fact.) I was so delighted to be invited by the wonderful teams at The Happy Foodie and Penguin Random House to the first iteration of their new Cookbook Club. Held at the beautiful Rye Studios in Dalston, the book in question was Comfort, with Candice discussing the process of writing the book, her inspirations, and her journey since being crowned GBBO winner in 2016.

All I can say is - what a woman. She describes herself as lucky, which I found an interesting concept. If this is true, I'd wager that my mum has had it right all along in telling us that luck is what happens when hard work meets opportunity. Candice is certainly testament to that.

I left feeling inspired, empowered and - perhaps most importantly - full to burst following a veritable feast of all the delicious cakes and bakes from the book. It was such a delight to meet some of my fellow bloggers (Instagram friends no longer!), and Candice of course. Here is one of my favourite recipes from Candice's books - rhubarb syllabub doughnuts. I'll let you take a minute to digest quite how delicious a recipe title that is.

For the dough 
270g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting 
10g instant yeast 
10g salt 
20g caster sugar, plus optional extra for dredging 
finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
120ml lukewarm whole milk 
40g unsalted butter, very soft 
1 egg 
rapeseed oil 

For the filling
200g fresh rhubarb, chopped into small pieces 
2 tbsp medium/sweet white wine 
1 tbsp golden caster sugar 
grated zest of 1 orange 
150ml double cream 
150g mascarpone cheese 
1 tbsp icing sugar 
½tsp vanilla bean paste

To finish (optional)
100g icing sugar, sifted

Put the flour in the large bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a small well in the middle. To one side put the yeast and on the opposite side put the salt, sugar and lemon zest. Pour the lukewarm milk, the very soft butter and egg into the well.

Mix on a low speed for 2 mins until everything is combined. Turn up the speed slightly and mix/knead for 5 mins until you have a smooth, soft dough. (You can also make the dough by hand, kneading on a lightly oiled surface for 10 minutes.)

Turn out the dough on to a lightly oiled work surface and shape into a smooth ball. Place in a lightly greased large bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until at least doubled in size.

Turn out the risen dough on to a lightly floured surface. Slightly knock out the air, then divide equally into either six large balls or 12 mini balls. Gently pinch and pull the outside of each ball into the middle so you get a nice smooth, round shape. Arrange the balls, not touching each other, on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Place this in a clean plastic bag and leave for 45-60 mins until doubled in size.

Heat 10-15cm of rapeseed oil in a high-sided medium-sized saucepan or deep-fat fryer until the oil reaches 150C. Deep-fry the doughnuts in batches – no more than 3 at a time – and check the oil temperature between each batch. Carefully place the dough balls into the oil. If they are large, fry for 3 minutes on each side; fry small balls for 2 minutes on each side. When done, the doughnuts will be puffed and golden brown. Lift out with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to drain.

At this point you can roll the warm doughnuts in caster sugar if you like. Put the rhubarb, white wine, golden caster sugar and orange zest in a small saucepan. Set on a low/medium heat and cook until the rhubarb is softened and the liquid has reduced to a thick syrup. Transfer 1tbsp of the syrup to a small bowl. Set the pan of rhubarb aside to cool.

In another bowl, combine the double cream, mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla and whisk together until the mix is just thickened and will hold its shape. Spoon the cream mixture into a piping bag fitted with a fairly large round nozzle. Fill a second piping bag fitted with a fairly large, round nozzle with the rhubarb mix.

Using a chopstick, poke 2 holes side by side into the side of each doughnut – give the chopstick a wiggle around so you create space inside the doughnut. Pipe the cream mix into one hole and the rhubarb mix into the other hole (be careful as this mix is a little thinner and may run).

If you haven’t rolled the doughnuts in caster sugar, then make a glaze with the reserved rhubarb syrup and the icing sugar. Drizzle this over the top of the filled doughnuts.

Recipe from Comfort: Delicious Bakes and Family Treats by Candice Brown. (Ebury Press, £20). Photography by Ellis Parrinder. This post was written in collaboration with The Happy Foodie but all views are, as always, entirely my own. 

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