We recently tasted jelly doughnuts with Stephen Collucci, Colicchio & Sons pastry chef and famed doughnut creator, in hopes of picking out the best jelly doughnuts on the island of Manhattan.
While Collucci's culinary background is in fine dining desserts, where he has truly come to shine is in his knack for fabulous fried foods.
While we tasted, we spoke with Collucci about what qualifies as a great doughnut and just how you can separate one from another.
"A good balance between sweetness and salt is key to any baked good," Collucci said, "and that remains true with doughnuts."
Collucci also explained that if the dough of a doughnut breaks down too quickly or feels at all waxy in your mouth, it is a clear sign of artificial ingredients.
Keeping this in mind, we asked Collucci for simple tips for making a great doughnut at home.
"The best doughnut is one that comes straight out of the fryer on to the plate, served still warm," Collucci said.
Well, there's no arguing in that. Having a home fryer or deep frying in a saucepan allows for this fryer-to-plate process to take place. Just don't bite in too soon or you'll burn your mouth on hot dough!
Other tips from Collucci? Use salt, be sure there is a balance of flavors, and don't let your doughnut become too sweet. One way Collucci ensures this is by adding salt to the granulated sugar he rolls his cooked doughnuts in. A pinch of salt both in the recipe and added on top can counter all of that sugary sweetness in your dough and jam.
Collucci also advised to keep your jam on the firmer side, stating that, "it is important to know that the fat in the doughnut will break down the jam, making it gooier than expected."
To avoid having jam that is too thin, Collucci recommended keeping your jam a bit firmer than you want it to actually be when biting in. The jam should also have a nice balance of sweetness, salt and acidity, he said.
The doughnut dough in itself is important as well, Collucci explained, with the best jelly doughnuts having a cake that "has good body and can stand alone."
His most important advice? "Make a doughnut with integrity and have fun!"