Lucy Damkoehler began baking way back in fifth grade, when she would help her father knead and shape dough for bread as a hobby. She’s now a distinguished pastry chef for Bon Appétit Management Company’s TASTE Restaurant in Seattle, where her desserts have captured the hearts and bellies of restaurant diners far and wide, including my own.
A few weeks ago, Lucy presented her latest doughnuts to a room full of chefs, farmers, and good food lovers at the Seattle Chef’s Collaborative Bakers’ Meet and Greet. Doughnuts cannot feign being a health food, but making them can be healthy for the community if the ingredients come from local, sustainable producers. Like the rest of the TASTE team (and Bon Appétit companywide), Lucy goes all-out to celebrate seasonal variety and bounty. She sources her organic pasture-raised eggs and bacon from Skagit River Ranch, butter and milk from the multi-species, “beyond organic” Sea Breeze Farm, and bread flour from Shepherd’s Grain’s no-till multi-family and -generational family farm cooperative. (See my post on my visit to their wheat fields here.)
Last summer, at the Olympic Sculpture Park Farmers Market, she made a different doughnut every week! Among them: red velvet (made with beets), corn fritters, and bacon brown sugar.
The rhubarb-cream-filled brioche doughnut I tried was delight at first bite. I couldn’t help asking Lucy to share her recipe with us. If you have a springtime sweet tooth, culinary ambition, and inspired sense of adventure, this one is for you. Otherwise, next time you’re in Seattle, stop by TASTE and sample her dessert menu.
Lucy Damkoehler’s Rhubarb-Cream-Filled Brioche Doughnuts
Makes 24 doughnuts
For the brioche dough:
4 cups bread flour (divide into 1 ½ cups and 3 cups)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 ¼ teaspoons or 1 packet active dry yeast
4 whole eggs
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 gallon vegetable oil for frying
For the rhubarb cream:
2 pounds rhubarb stalks, washed and rough-chopped
1 vanilla bean, split in half
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup frozen cranberries (*optional, for color only)
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup granulated sugar
3 sheets gelatin, bloomed in cold water
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Powdered sugar for tossing finished doughnuts
To prepare the brioche dough:
Mix together in a medium-size bowl with a wooden spoon 1 ½ cups bread flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and eggs until all the flour is mixed in.
Flour your work surface using the extra 3 cups of flour, a half cup at a time.
Pour the dough on to the floured surface, dust the top with another ½ cup flour and begin to knead. The dough is going to be very sticky. Knead it until all the flour on the surface is gone, then add another ½ cup, until you have used 2 cups.
Your dough will still be sticky, but workable. Now take the diced butter and put it into the middle of the dough, and begin kneading again. Continue to add flour as you knead it, kneading until all the pieces of butter are gone.
Form into a ball. Put the dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. Roll out the dough to ½ inch thick. Then with a 2-inch ring mold, punch out the doughnuts. Do not cut holes in these, as they will be filled.
To prepare the rhubarb cream:
Preheat your oven to 325 F.
In a tall baking dish (such as a brownie or cake pan) place the rhubarb, vanilla bean, and ¼ sugar.
Cover with aluminum foil and roast in for 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft. Remove the vanilla bean and puree in a food processor until the rhubarb is smooth. Put aside.
In a stainless steel pot, bring heavy cream and ½ cup sugar to a scald. Remove from the heat and add your bloomed gelatin, buttermilk and salt. Stir until the gelatin is melted. Add the rhubarb puree and strain. Let set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 3 days.
To assemble the doughnuts:
Pre-heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot to 365 F.
Gently place the doughnuts in, three to four at a time, cooking for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Poke holes in one side of each doughnut. Mix up the rhubarb cream, and place in a piping back. Pipe the cream into the doughnuts through the hole you made, then toss the doughnuts in powdered sugar.
More Bon Appetit employees at the Seattle Chef’s Collaborative Meet and Greet (right to left): TASTE Restaurant Pastry Chef Lucy Damkoehler, Amazon Catering Director Michelle Clair, Cornish College of the Arts Executive Chef Rick Stromire, Nordstrom General Manager Kris McClean, West Coast Fellow Vera Chang.