And she squeaks in under the deadline! Huzzah!

So, donuts. They taste good, yes? I myself enjoy something fairly plain, maybe with a light dusting of sugar or cinnamon sugar or made with apple cider; more rarely, something cream-filled. Jelly donuts are an abomination, although a lemon-curd filled donut might be acceptable in the right circumstance. Might.

My favorite donut ever is an old fashioned donut (read: plain and boring) I once had at a little shop called Speedy Donut off I-95 in Connecticut. Brian and I were en route from Jersey City to Boston and got off the highway after seeing the Speedy Donut sign above the trees, specifically to track down the delightful breakfast pastries; it’s always nice to find a non-Dunkin donut.

Total coincidence: I am *again* watching a dog show.

I have since tried to find Speedy Donut several times with no success. I’ve begun to wonder if Speedy Donut was just in a dream I had, or if it’s some kind of fantastical donut shop that travels through time and space bringing fresh tasty donuts to the donut-deprived. In any case, all my donut experiences over the past few years have been penultimate.

Until today.

Thanks to Tartelette and Peabody and their declaration that it is time to make the donuts, I am no longer cursed to a lifetime of second-best donuts: I can now produce the world’s best donuts in my very own kitchen. On one hand, I’m looking forward to seeing all the other imaginative and delicious donuts in the round-up. On the other, it ultimately doesn’t matter because this is the. Best. Donut. I present to you: bomboloni all’arancia with orange-rum custard. Did you hear the trumpet fanfare? If not, re-read this paragraph and listen more closely.

It’s championship season, what do you want from me?

Bomboloni, wee little yeast donuts, are traditional Florentine cafe treats. They’re perfectly sized at two bites each and are not overly sweet, making them appropriate for consumption at any and all times of the day (another advantage of their small size: you can keep a couple of ’em in your pockets). The custard is a boozy delight, and the leftovers would be awesome on some thick brioche French toast for a totally decadent brunch. Or you could (should) just make more donuts.

It would also be easy to play with the flavors; the recipe I decided to work from used cinnamon and nutmeg, and I decided to go in a totally different direction. Other spices, zest, extracts or oils create a world of possibilities. The basic recipe is great – it produces a texture that is the perfect cross between a Krispy Kreme yeast donut and Dunkin Donuts’ original old fashioned cake – so feel free to mix it up.

From now on, in my house it will *always* be time to make the donuts.

These are really, really good donuts. I rolled them in granulated sugar because I like the little crunch, not because I always make a giant mess with confectioners’. They’re substantial enough that you don’t feel as though you could eat several dozen, and the dipping custard makes things a little interactive and elevates them beyond the realm of mortal donuts; these babies would be a great ending to a dinner party.

A short ode:
Speedy donut shop,
you shall plague my dreams no more.
Now *I* make the best.

Bomboloni all’Arancia with Orange-Rum Custard
adapted from Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen

For the donuts:
1/4 c. warm water
1 packet active dry yeast (not instant)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. whole milk
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. sugar
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour + additional 1/4 cup
3/4 c. cake flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. room-temp butter
1 large egg
zest of one orange
olive oil for frying
granulated sugar for coating

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and mix in the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Let the yeastie beasts go to town and feed on the sugar; after 5 minutes, the mixture will get frothy. Meantime, warm the milk until it’s just warm to the touch; mix in the orange zest.

In your standing mixer with paddle attachment, dump in all the dry ingredients except the 1/4 cup of flour and mix briefly to combine. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture, warm milk and egg; beat to combine. Beat in the butter.

Swap the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Mix for 2-3 minutes, adding in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour as needed to create a smooth, elastic dough. Remove the dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave to rise for 2-2 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

Turn the risen dough out onto your work surface and pat or roll it to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out 1 1/2 inch rounds, you’ll get approx. 45 donuts. Leave the donuts to proof under plastic wrap while you heat up the oil to 340-350 degrees. Fry the donuts, being careful not to crowd the pot, until dark golden brown. Roll the donuts in granulated sugar. Serve while warm.

For the custard:
3/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. whole milk
1 1/2 tbsp. dark rum
juice of 1 orange
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sugar
6 egg yolks

Combine the cream, milk, rum, orange juice, vanilla and 1/4 of the sugar in a heavy pot and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together. When the milk hits a boil, dribble it into the eggs, whisking constantly, until it’s fully combined. Pour the custard mixture back into the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until your spatula leaves a trail along the bottom of the pot as you stir. Immediately take off the heat, pour through a fine mesh strainer, and set into an an ice bath to cool. If you’re storing for any length of time, put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard’s surface to keep a skin from forming (unless you like that kind of thing).