I totally know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “chai and basil?!? WhaAat… really?” Yes, really!! I know it sounds like a strange combination but just hear me out. Just imagine this slightly smoky and spicy custard oozing out of a fluffy, cop approved, golden brown doughnut that has just been tossed in some crunchy sugar crystals. All these flavors and textures dancing in your mouth but oh wait… what is that slightly lemony and bright flavor coming through and elevating this amazing doughnut? Can it be?! Yes, it can be! It is the basil sugar!
How was that for an intro. Good, right? Yea, I thought so too.
As usual all wonderful things are made by mistake and this one was no different. The first time I made these doughnuts was way back in August. As I was mixing in the butter and vanilla into the warm custard, my dad comes in through the backdoor with freshly picked basil from our garden. Both smells immediately began to mingle with one another and I instantly had a ratatouille moment. My brain went into hyper drive mode because I knew I had to change my doughnut game plan so I could be able to incorporate those basil leaves into these doughnuts. So, I grabbed a few basil leaves and rubbed them into some white sugar to dip the doughnuts in once they came out of the fryer and thus, the CHAI & BASIL BRIOCHE DOUGHNUT was born!!!
The doughnut recipe I used is from the The Broken Breadwhich is run by a lovely human being named Kristin. Her recipe is so freaking amazing. They are tender, fluffy, soft and all around the perfect brioche doughnut. However, I did happen to make two changes when I remade them in the winter for this blog post. I took out the lemon zest and I used a tad more butter to replace the egg yolk. Why, you ask… well, because I didn’t have any lemons and I was low on eggs. You see here in NY there was a blizzard and I was soooo not leaving my toasty house for one egg yolk and a lemon. I solemnly swear it is the pure truth. But even with my minor changes they still came out like fluffy little clouds.
Chia & Basil Brioche Doughnuts
(Make twelve 2.5″ filled doughnuts)
1 & ½ Tablespoons Sugar, divided
½ Packet Active Dry Yeast
½ Cup Whole Milk, warmed
1 Large Eggs
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 & ½ Cups of All Purpose flour, plus a bit extra for rolling out
5 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, softened
2 Cups Whole Milk
2 Bags of Your Favorite Chai Tea Bags
1 Large Egg
2 Egg Yolk
½ Cups of Sugar
¼ Cups of Cornstarch
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Tbsp. Butter
¼ Cups of Sugar
2 Fresh Basil Leaves
In a standing mixer with a dough attachment place 1 tablespoon of the sugar, yeast, and milk. Let sit for about 5 minutes until it starts to bloom and you can smell the yeast.
With a dough attachment, mix in your eggs, yolk, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, the rest of the sugar, and the flour into the yeast milk mixture until it all comes together. (Approx. 3 minutes) The dough will be sticky but don’t worry about it. A sticky dough just means its well hydrated and will make a very nice dough!
Next put the softened butter in and mix until the butter is fully incorporated.
Once the butter is fully mixed in let the mixer go for 2 minutes more.
Then cover the dough with a towel and let it sit for 30 minutes to double in size.
In the mean time you can make theMasala Chai Custard.(See below)
After the 30 minutes has passed and the dough has risen, fold it into a tight ball and place it in the fridge overnight (up to 12 hours). This will allow the bread to absorb the extra moisture and allow the yeast to develop a lot of flavor.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and place it onto a floured surface.
Roll out the dough a little less than ½” thick and use a 2.5” biscuit cutter to cut out your dough rounds. Re roll your scraps to make even more doughnuts. In my past experiences the rerolled doughnuts were the best ones!
Once you finished cutting all your doughnuts out, let them rise again for 30 minutes.
In the meantime you can start assembling your prepping station. Get your Basil Sugar ready to go and fill a piping bag with the Masala Chai Custard.
Also, go ahead and heat a pot of oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Personally, I’d pick out a pot with 3-5 inch sides and fill it with oil about 1.5-2 inches high. I would also suggest using an instant read thermometer to let you know if the oil is too cold or too hot. If it gets too hot too quickly, pour in some cold oil. This will help it cool down faster.
Once your doughnuts are proofed, you can start frying those bad boys 2 minutes per side. As they come out, let them drain off any excess oil on a cooling rack before you toss them in the basil sugar.
Once they are all sugared up, you can slit a hole in them to pipe in the chai custard and VIOLA you have made some fluffy and magnificent doughnuts! Take a bite and let me know what you think! They are, of course best served the day of!
On a stove top heat your milk but do not boil. Once heated, shut the flame off and place the tea bags in the milk to steep and cover for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, place your egg, yolks, sugar, & cornstarch in a separate bowl and mix until all lumps are gone.
Once your milk has turned a light brown color you may discard the teabags.
Begin stirring your egg mixture while simultaneously pouring in some of the warm tea mixture. Then pour your warm egg mixture in with the rest of the hot milk mixture. This is called tempering. You do this so you don’t curdle your eggs.
Bring the custard mixture back onto the stovetop and continuously stir the custard until it starts to bubble.
Once it starts to bubble, let it thicken for about 30 seconds.
Take it off the heat and mix in the butter and vanilla.
Strain the custard into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard. (This will prevent a skin from forming.)
Refrigerate the custard for at least 3 hours.
In a medium sized bowl place both the sugar and basil leaves in.
Start to massage the sugar into the basil. This will breakdown the basil and infuse its oil into the sugar.
Set aside and use when ready.