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Jam-Stuffed “Doughnuts” Cooked in Cast Iron

Jam-Stuffed “Doughnuts” Cooked in Cast Iron

Carnival is a joyful celebration of extravagance, and it happens in February and March every year. In Rio, they call it “The Greatest Show on Earth;” in Venice, they mark the occasion with masked balls. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, people attend colorful street parties and bright Mardi Gras parades.

The word “carnival” comes from the Latin phrase “carne vale” meaning “to skip meat.” Carnival traditionally marks the time before Lent and is universally recognized as a celebration of indulgence before 40 days of abstinence. 

In Germany, Karneval (or Fasching) is also known as the “fifth season of the year” as it runs all the way from mid-November to the beginning of Spring. In the Rhine area at the peak of the season, people put on costumes and watch dancers, musicians and decorated carts in procession, calling “Alaaf” or “Helau” — triumphant expressions with early German origins. Meanwhile, mystery goodie packages known as “Kamelle” are thrown to the crowds and picked up by eager children (and adults, too).

Regional carnivals all have one thing in common: They share the joy of indulgent food and drink. Thankfully, we can come together for a homemade meal and toast to the company of our nearest and dearest any time.

We took inspiration from jam-stuffed doughnuts — a popular treat served at German Karneval — for this cast iron recipe. Soft with a sticky center and dusted with sugar, they’re the perfect handheld snack for the days’ festivities. This tear and share dough ball dish is filled with a selection of different jams wrapped in a sweet leavened dough, so each ball has a hidden surprise inside.

The leavened dough we use for this recipe is enriched with eggs, butter and sugar, so it takes a little longer to proof — but the extra time is well worth it. The result is soft and pillowy — a bit like monkey bread. Once proofed, you divide the dough into 16 portions, then flatten each portion into a palm-sized round, which you fill with a spoonful of jam. You can use as many flavors as you wish: We chose lemon curd, strawberry jam and raspberry jam. 

Notes: This recipe is best-suited to gas-powered cooking because you need to bake the dough balls in residual heat. We used a hand-mix technique in the recipe, but you can also use a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted. Mix on low until smooth and springy.

4 hours total time, 1 hour active time

Makes 16 jam-stuffed dough balls

Ooni pizza oven
Ooni Infrared Thermometer
Ooni Cast Iron Skillet Pan

For the dough
180 milliliters)skim (semi-skimmed) milk 
75 grams unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
2 medium eggs
500 grams bread flour
7 grams instant dried yeast
50 grams sugar  
Pinch fine sea salt
15 milliliters oil, for greasing (we used avocado oil, but you can use vegetable, canola or any other neutral oil)
15 grams unsalted butter, for greasing 

For the filling
100 grams of jam or preserve (we like raspberry, strawberry and lemon curd)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting 

In a medium pan, gently heat the milk and butter until the butter melts and the milk begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Beat in the eggs with a fork.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. 

Add the milk, butter and egg mixture to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine, until you get a sticky dough. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead it for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and springy. If the dough tears too easily), put it back into the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before kneading again. Keep in mind that since this is an enriched dough, it won’t feel as strong as your typical pizza dough.

Drizzle the oil into a large bowl or proofing tub and use a paper towel or clean tea towel to grease the sides. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, turning it over to coat, then cover with a lid, plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Leave to proof in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in size. 

Lightly grease your Cast Iron Skillet Pan with butter. Divide the dough into 16 portions. Take one of the  portions and lightly stretch it until it's as wide as the palm of your hand. Place a teaspoonful of jam into the center, fold the edges in towards the middle, and pinch them into a ball with your fingers. Use your palms to smooth the seam at the bottom. 

Arrange the dough balls in a circular pattern in your skillet, starting from the outside and working your way in. Once the dough balls are arranged, cover the pan with a damp cloth and proof for 30 minutes.

If cooking with gas: Preheat your Ooni oven on high for at least 20 minutes.

If cooking with wood/charcoal: Preheat your Ooni oven with a charcoal bed, aiming for 250°C (480°F) on the stone baking board. Use an infrared thermometer to accurately check the temperature inside.

If cooking with gas: Turn your hot oven off and place the cast iron pan in the center of the oven. Cook for four minutes in the residual heat, turning the pan 180 degrees halfway through. Once the balls puff up and become golden brown on top, cover the pan with foil and turn the oven back on using a low flame. Cook for six more minutes, turning the pan 90 degrees every minute. 

If cooking with wood: Reduce the flames and place the pan at the mouth of the oven. Keep the door open and cook for four minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees halfway through. Cover with foil, and bake for five more minutes, turning the pan 90 degrees every minute.

The dough balls should be a deep golden brown all around. You’ll know they’re done cooking when they smell sweet and toasted. Remove from the oven and set aside. Use a sieve to dust an even coating of icing sugar over the top. 

Let cool for five minutes (the jam inside will be piping hot) before serving. 

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