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Ricotta doughnuts, fennel and mandarin custard


25th June, 2013
Dave Verheul and Christian McCabe of The Town Mouse
Tuesday 25th June 2013
OH it's always sad to say goodbye to our much loved Tasty Tuesday columnists!  This week we bid The Town Mouse Team farewell, after a wonderful month of flavourful, wintery culinary delights.  We're finishing up today with one of their most popular dishes - the dessert for people who claim they don't want dessert!  These ricotta filled doughnuts are light, not too sweet, and perfect for sharing.   Massive thanks to Dave and Christian at The Town Mouse for sharing some highlights of their winter menu with us this month.  Don't forget to pop in for dinner next time you are in Carlton - you won't be disappointed!  - Lucy

Ricotta doughnuts with fennel and mandarin custard by The Town Mouse, plate by the Fortynine Studio, Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Sometimes when you eat in a restaurant, you eat so much savoury food that you have no more room for dessert. Sometimes you eat it anyway and quickly regret it. Having gorged on too much post-prandial sugar many a time ourselves, we know that few diners possess the self control to be truly strategic to save room for a whole dessert!  This is where the mini doughnut comes in – small, easy to share, and far to easy to have just one more (since they're mostly composed of air, surely they can't be that bad?!).

This recipe calls for ricotta for its body and creaminess, which not only makes these doughnuts a little less unhealthy than their jam-filled counterparts, but also balances a bit of the sweetness out with its light, mild flavour.

Who doesn't love a doughnut?  It's one of those foods that most people always think of as a 'treat' - something that reminds us of being somewhere special, like a fair, or in a foreign land in winter. Ours are coated in fennel sugar and served with the most delicious mandarin custard. The mandarin is in many ways the forgotten citrus when it comes to cooking, but it has such a great floral element to it that integrates so beautifully into this silky custard. As with the profiteroles in our second post these little pastries have an allure that is simply irresistible, and you will find yourself 'taste testing' a few as you prepare them. Sure you'll tell yourself that only the most perfectly formed ones are good enough for your guests, but we don't think the cook needs any excuse to sample what they're making.

We serve these as the dessert for people who claim they don't want dessert. The portion is not too big, you can share them and still have a couple of extra for yourself, and they go especially well with a black coffee or a nice toffee-laden single malt.


For the doughnuts

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp baking powder
50g flour
1 lemon zest
500g ricotta
vegetable oil for deep frying

For the fennel sugar

5g fennel seed
50g sugar
Pinch sea salt

For the mandarin custard

3 mandarin zest
200g cream
50g mandarin juice
55g sugar
4 egg yolks


Fennel sugar sprinkling!  Plate by the Fortynine Studio, Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Place all of the doughnut ingredients into a mixer bowl, and mix together thoroughly using a kitchen mixer with a paddle attachment, if you have one.  Transfer to a piping bag.

For the fennel sugar, toast fennel seeds in a dry frying pan until aromatic, transfer to a mortar and pestle, and grind together with the sugar. Season to taste with salt.

For the mandarin custard, set up an ice bath by half filling a large bowl with ice and water, then place a smaller bowl on top of the ice.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Bring the juice, cream and mandarin zest up to the boil and slowly pour over the yolk mix while whisking. Transfer the mix back into the pot and cook, while stirring until it thickens at 80 degrees. Quickly strain into the ice bath.

To cook the doughnuts, bring a pot of cooking oil up to 180 degrees.  Pipe the doughnut mix onto a spoon, and then carefully drop it into the hot oil, repeat until you're out of doughnut mixture.

Cook the doughnuts until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on absorbent paper.  When cooled slightly, pipe each one with a squirt of soft ricotta, using a piping bag.

Thoroughly coat the doughnuts with fennel sugar, and serve with the mandarin custard.

MASSIVE thanks to The Town Mouse team for sharing their impressive culinary repertoire with us this month.  It's worth nothing that The Town Mouse also have the loveliest gift vouchers available - the perfect gift for any Melbourne foodie!  The vouchers are beautiful 'aerograms', created by local graphic designer Suzy Tuxen (who also did all the branding for The Town Mouse).    (See here for a squiz at the full suite of branding / stationery).

OK that's me.  We ate ALL the doughnuts.  SO outrageously good.  Highly recommend!  Plate by the Fortynine Studio, Photo - Sean Fennessy.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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