More than a decade ago, food blogger Heather Baird (Sprinkle Bakes) worked in an art gallery with her roommate and best friend. There were always bottles of wine left over from artist receptions, and one morning Baird walked in to find her friend having a doughnut and a glass of Merlot for breakfast. “The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. The intense berry and butter notes of Merlot countered by sweet, fried dough—it was practically a grape jelly doughnut,” says Baird. As homage to that pairing, Baird developed this recipe for her book Sea Salt Sweet.
2¼ tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. fine-grain sea salt
1 large egg, beaten
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Neutral-tasting oil, such as grapeseed oil, for frying
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 Tbsp. Merlot
Coarse Hawaiian black lava salt
Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Let the mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups of the flour, the granulated sugar and sea salt. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes with an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add the egg and butter and the remaining 1¾ cups of flour, mixing in by hand with a large spoon. When the batter is smooth, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough to a half-inch thickness. Cut 2½-inch rounds of dough with a cookie cutter or doughnut cutter. Place the rounds on large, floured baking pans and allow them to rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffed, 1 to 2 hours.
Pour the oil into a large pot to a 3- to 4-inch depth. Place the pot over medium heat until the oil reaches 325° to 350°F on a deep fry thermometer. Fry 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or fry spatula to remove the doughnuts from the oil. Place them on a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain. Allow the doughnuts to cool completely.
Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of Merlot in a small bowl. If the mixture is too thick to fall from a spoon in a ribbon, add another tablespoon of Merlot. Dip the doughnuts in the Merlot glaze and allow the excess to drip off. Let each doughnut stand for 1 to 2 minutes before sprinkling with a few grains of coarse Hawaiian black lava salt.
Makes 20 doughnuts.
Adapted with permission from Sea Salt Sweet © 2015 by Heather Baird, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.
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