<p>At our household we only ate doughnuts once a year, in February for Shrove Tuesday. More than our parents, our grandparents were the ones who were doughnut masters. It was important that doughnuts weren't too big, too oily and that they had a good white ring around them. Plus of course the filling had to be absolutely amazing. Most of the time the filling was a homemade marmelade. Our first doughnut frying lesson was about three years ago and let me tell you, they weren't amazing. But today, these doughnuts are pretty fabulous. Not too big, not too oily, with a soft, airy inside and filled with the most delicious vanilla cream. Yummm. My grandma would be proud.</p>
Add caster sugar and yeast to the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble. In a small bowl, beat the eggs. Cut the butter on small cubes.
Water temperature should not be above 35°C / 95°F, or it will destroy the yeast.
Prepare the dough
Add the flour, eggs, rum and lemon zest to the yeast mixture in a large bowl. Knead well. After about 5 minutes, add the sea salt. Slowly incorporate the butter cubes and knead well with your hands. The dough has to be glossy and smooth.
Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to proof at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough, then re-cover the bowl. Put in the fridge to chill for 12 - 16 hours or overnight.
The doughnuts will be more delicious and easily digested if you leave them to chill overnight. If you don't have the time, leave that part out.
Shape the dough into doughnuts
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and cut it into 70g pieces. Shape them into smooth, tight buns and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and dusted with flour. Leave plenty of room between them to proof. Cover lightly with cling film and leave for about 2 hours, or until about doubled in size.
Frying the doughnuts
Get a heavy-based saucepan. Fill it up to the halfway point with rapeseed oil. Heat the oil to 165 - 170°C/330 - 340°F. Carefully remove the doughnuts from the baking tray, take care not to deflate them, and put them into the oil. Cover with a lid. Fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Don't cover with a lid when you turn the doughnuts around. Remove from the oil and place on a tray lined with paper towels. Set aside to cool before filling.
Rich vanilla cream
Prepare the vanilla cream. Split the vanilla pod open lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Put both pod and seeds into a saucepan with the milk and bring slowly to a boil to infuse the vanilla. Remove from the heat and cover with a cling film. Set aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile put egg yolks, caster sugar and flour in a bowl and mix for a few seconds. Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan. Bring the milk with vanilla seeds to a boil once again. Pour 1/3 of the milk over the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling, then return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes, until very thick. Place a sheet of cling film on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool.
Homemade doughnuts with a rich vanilla cream
Fill a piping bag with vanilla cream and pipe it into the doughnuts. Sprinkle the doughnuts with some icing sugar and eat them right away or store in an airtight tin. Enjoy.