Basil Peach Shortcake Donuts

A different spin on a couple of classic favorites, these Basil Peach Shortcake Donuts are subtly sweet, refreshing, and a beautiful way to celebrate summer.

It's funny how the brain compartmentalizes, don't you think?  If I say basil, you probably immediately think of savory dishes, mostly Italian.  But if I say mint, you're more than likely to think of ice cream.  Yet both are green, leafy herbs, and believe it or not, both lend themselves to savory and sweet dishes.

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The addition of traditionally savory flavors to desserts seems to be hip and trendy right now, and while I'm usually the least cool person in the room, I'm not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud to have finally jumped on this bandwagon. The basil flavor here is subtle-- light enough that you don't have to stop and wonder if you're eating a donut with fruit or a plate of spaghetti.  Ain't nobody got time for that kind of confusion when dessert is happening. So we keep it light, just enough to give you a little overtone of something special and unexpected that still works so well.

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While the occasional shortcake of any variety is usually a good idea, I've definitely had my share of forgettable, dry cakes that feel like sawdust in your mouth and require copious amounts of whipped cream and fruit juice to even get down your gullet.  So why not take it next level and just make everybody happy?  I mean, of course, opting for donuts instead of actual, you know, shortcakes.  And while we're switching it up, why not peaches instead of strawberries?  Own it.

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To be honest, this one was inspired by Joy the Baker's Strawberry Shortcake Donuts, though I'm definitely not cool enough to wear clothes that match my food and get away with it.  I would just look like I never left the 90s, or my preteen years.  Baby faces can be a curse, you guys.  Not even kidding.

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At least there's solace in donuts. Amen.


Basil Peach Shortcake Donuts

Recipe by Rebecca Neidhart
Makes 10-12 donuts
Active Time: 1 hour, divided || Resting/Rising Time: 4-24 hours || Total Time: 5 hours

For the Donuts

  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Neutral oil (canola, vegetable, etc.) for frying

For the Fillings:

  • 5-6 large, ripe peaches, peeled and slice thinly
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh basil, chopped very fine
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  •  6 Tbsp. powdered sugar, plus more for dusting

 

For the Donuts: Warm the milk either over the stove or in the microwave, then pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with a dough hook.   Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, then add the yeast and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes or until it becomes bubbly.

Add the eggs and melted butter and mix them in. While the mixer is running on medium-low, stir in the flour and salt until completely combined, about five minutes.  Turn off the mixer and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

After it has rested, move the dough to a clean, oiled bowl and turn it to coat all of the dough in oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or up to 1 day.

To make the donuts, remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn it out onto a floured surface.  With a rolling pin, roll it out until it is about 1/3-1/2" thick, then using a large circle cutter (something about 3-4 inches, I like to use a wide-mouth jar lid), cut as many donuts as you can.  Lay them out on parchment lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them.  Repeat the rolling & cutting with the dough edges until you have used it all.

Gently lay plastic wrap over the top of the doughnuts, and let them rise for 1-2 hours, or until they are puffed up and soft when you touch them.  If your house is cold, turn on your oven for about 2 minutes then turn it off, just to make it slightly warm.  Place the trays of donuts in the oven.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed pan, heat at least 2" of oil to 350°.  Carefully drop 2 or 3 of the donuts in and fry for about 2 minutes on each side, or until each side is golden brown.  Remove from the oil to a cooling rack and repeat with the rest of the donuts and donut holes, keeping the oil around 350°.

For the Filling: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the white sugar, finely minced basil leaves, and lemon rind, rubbing the mixture with your fingers until it is fragrant.  Stir in the peaches, then let them sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.  There should be a fair amount of juice in the bottom of the bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, beat the whipping cream on medium low until soft peaks form when you lift the beater out.  Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, then whip until stiff peak stage. Chill until ready to use.

To Assemble: With a sharp, serrated knife, slice each of the donuts in half, leaving them still attached on one edge. Place a large spoonful of whipped cream on the bottom, then layer sliced peaches on top of them. Be sure to drizzle some of the basil peach juice over the top.  Sprinkle the tops of the donuts generously with powdered sugar and serve immediately.