Throughout this week, we’re showing our love for the doughnut by featuring a story on it every single day.
Here at Williams-Sonoma, we love doughnuts so much that we quite literally wrote the book on doughnuts. Our test kitchen spent months developing recipes for Williams-Sonoma: The Doughnut Cookbook, which was released earlier this year.
To find out more about how the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen honed in on the cookbook concept and all of its recipes, we spoke with test kitchen cook Emily McFarren. Learn more about how the book came to fruition, including the creative process, the most challenging recipes, and her favorite doughnuts from project.
Tell us about the creative process behind developing the book.
Emily McFarren: We actually went on a doughnut crawl first, and then we came back here and tasted everything together. It was a lot of old-school doughnuts and a lot of doughnuts with modern, fresh flavors—dozens and dozens of doughnuts. We felt so sick afterwards!
But it was super fun. We had huge sheets of butcher paper out [for the tasting], and our publisher, Welden Owen, saw that on Instagram, and they ended up replicating it for the part of the book.
We tasted bites of them all, and we started to figure out what we liked about different doughnuts. We honed in on what flavors we liked, the right amount of fluffy and chewy, how they were baked through and how much you want them filled.
We decided there are three types of doughnuts: yeasted, cake and baked doughnuts. We started with those categories and filled them in with our favorite classics and new ideas that we were excited about.
What were the hardest recipes to develop?
EM: The old-fashioned doughnut was hard; figuring out who to cut it to get the “wings” right was really hard. It’s my favorite type of doughnut; I like to bite off the wings first and then eat the center. We tried to get it nice and crispy on the outside.
The apple fritters were also hard. Trying to figure out how to fill them and get them to still be beautiful and hold their shape was challenging. That was fun to play around with. Long Johns, or bar doughnuts, were tricky too—the cook time was hard.
Were there any unexpected favorites?
EM: We liked the lemon baked doughnut with the pistachios and the yogurt glaze. It was different and delicious, and we attempted a gluten-free version, which turned out well. It was so moist with the yogurt in it. With the s’mores doughnuts, we didn’t really have a vision for them, so seeing them come together was really cool. And the cinnamon twists were fun to make.
If you had to make one recipe out of the book, what would you suggest?
Can I say two? I would say the cinnamon twists because they look really complicated, but they’re actually really easy and fun. I love making the cinnamon twists; they’re so beautiful. And the lemon pistachio. Nobody’s as excited about a baked doughnut, but these are so delicious.