28 June 2011

A bite of childhood

After recently expressing a preference for yeast-raised, deep-fried doughnuts--notably, the Hawaiian-style (via Portuguese influence) malasadas I enjoyed during my childhood--a reader showed interest in locating a recipe. Truth be told, I have tried my hand at vegan versions of the traditionally dairy milk- and egg-enriched fritters a few times since the idea first crossed my mind a few years ago, but continually neglected to document the formula. I wrote briefly about an attempt that utilized sourdough starter, but only described it in vague terms. The malasadas with which I am familiar had that slightly tangy twinge that comes from the dough rising in the refrigerator for several hours. I'm tempted to revisit the sourdough method sometime.

In the meantime, I do have a non-sourdough vegan malasada recipe for you all. I adapted it from a recipe my mother always used. I'm not sure of the reference recipe's origins, but a quick online search and consulting several of my mother's crowd-sourced Hawaiian recipe books resulted in basic similarities between multiple versions of this fried treat; all involved dairy milk (either regular or evaporated) and eggs. The dairy milk, of course, was easily swapped with a nondairy counterpart (my go-to is unsweetened almond milk). Because the dough requires yeast for leavening, I assumed the eggs required by most traditional recipes are meant to enrich the dough. I ended up using flax "eggs" (milled flax seed and water) and vegan mayonnaise as a sort of binding-enriching combination. As noted, nondairy yogurt can be substituted for the mayonnaise and although I haven't tried them here, I'm thinking vegan cream cheese or sour cream could work, too; they provide that aforementioned bit of sourness to which I am accustomed with malasadas, while also making the dough a little richer. If you don't feel like using vegan mayo, yogurt, etc., doubling the amount of flax "eggs" works just fine. I also threw in some whole wheat flour to make myself feel a little better about eating fried, sugar-coated dough, but whole wheat does tend to weigh down the doughnuts a bit more so than all-purpose flour; for fluffier, more-like-traditional malasadas, feel free to use only all-purpose flour. These are doughnuts, after all.
Malasadas (printer-friendly version here)
Yields approximately two dozen doughnuts

2 ¼ tsp (one .25-oz package) active dry yeast
1 ¼ c nondairy milk, warmed to slightly above lukewarm (nut-free, if desired)
2/3 c granulated sugar or evaporated cane juice, divided (possibly more for rolling)
2 T milled flax seed
¼ c lukewarm water
¼ c vegan mayonnaise or nondairy yogurt
zest of ½ lemon, finely grated
¼ tsp salt
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour (or more all-purpose flour)
Canola oil for deep-frying

Place the warm milk and 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl and mix to dissolve some of the sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the milk mixture and gently stir just to combine. Allow the yeast to proof (approximately five minutes).

In a small bowl, whisk the milled flax seed with the lukewarm water, allowing it to rest until viscous. Stir in vegan mayonnaise and lemon zest. Add to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift the flours and salt. Add to the yeast mixture and stir until well-combined. The dough will be thick and very sticky. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free space to rise until doubled (approximately one hour). Once the dough has doubled, deflate it, then cover the bowl to allow the dough to rise a second time.*

Heat canola oil (enough to fill a pot approximately 2 ½ to 3 inches deep) in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low to medium heat until it reaches 360°F; you want to fry the doughnuts between 350°F and 360°F, so toggle the heat to maintain the appropriate temperature. To make a doughnut, use an ice cream scoop or two large spoons to carefully drop a heaping 2 to 3 tablespoons’ worth of dough into the hot oil. The dough will puff up a bit, so fry just a few doughnuts at a time in order to prevent crowding and drastically dropping the oil temperature. Fry the doughnuts until they begin to just turn golden brown (approximately one minute), flip them over, and allow them to fry until deep golden brown (a few minutes more), flipping again to cook the doughnuts to a uniform color. Do not allow them to become darker (e.g., chestnut brown); at that point, the dough will taste noticeably burnt. Remove the doughnuts to a paper towel-lined tray and allow them to cool slightly.** Carefully roll the hot doughnuts in reserved sugar. They are best enjoyed hot and fresh.

*After the initial rise and deflation, the dough may be stored in a well-covered bowl in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight, then fried the next day. Unused dough may also be refrigerated in the same manner for an additional day.
**Once fried, the doughnuts may be frozen and reheated in the oven at another time. Simply allow non-sugar-coated doughnuts to cool completely before storing. After reheating, roll the doughnuts in sugar.
Feel free to play around with the recipe and let me know how it turns out for you! For example, you can get creative with various fillings, although I didn't even know filled malasadas existed until seeing them sold at a mall outpost in Hawaii a few years back. But do try them first with just sugar coating and have a taste of some of my happiest of childhood food memories.

What are some of your favorite foods from childhood?


  1. Affectioknit6/28/11, 12:21 PM

    YUM!  Those look delicious...perfect for breakfast!

  2. This sounds really interesting! And the recipe kind of reminds me of ensaimadas, which are also fermented for a long time. I bet these were awesome.

  3. Scissors and Spice7/2/11, 7:09 PM

    Thanks so much! I never had it filled with anything. Just big flat-ish pieces rolled in sugar! Now, for sweet Portuguese bread. So many eggs in that recipe, I wonder if it could be done!

  4. This is my first time visiting your blog and I am surely going to continue to. These malasadas look so delicious and moist and tasty! ^^

  5. Yum, doughnuts! It's so great recreating vegan versions of childhood favorites! :-)


Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)