FANK RECIPE (HOMEMADE HUNGARIAN DOUGHNUTS)
Even though I have a pretty sweet tooth (read: I'll do anything for praline), I usually eat pretty healthy. But there's one thing I can't refuse, and will eat humongous amounts of... And that's Hungarian doughnuts (fank (or szalagos fank) in Hungarian).
When I make them, which happens fairly regularly because Sasha LOVES them too, I can easily eat a dozen in less than 15 minutes. What can I say, I have weaknesses too! They just remind me of my childhood so much. My mom used to make them when I was a child, albeit rarely, because they take quite long to make. It used to be my treat that she would make for me when I was nice. Which might also explain why I didn't see too much of them, ha!
They're also special to me because they played a big role in my relationship with my grandmother and Hungarian food. Every time I go to Hungary, my grandmother never even bothers asking me what time I have to be picked up. That's my grandfather's problem. She only wants to know one thing: What I want to eat as soon as I get there. And quite frankly, I don't know why she keeps asking, because my answer has been the same for more than a decade. I always ask for gulyàsleves (known in English as goulash) and fank. And my grandmother, being the amazing woman that she is, always delivers the most delicious version of both. No joke, she's an amazing cook and I probably get my love of cooking from her. At least, I definitely got my bone broth recipe from her.
Back to the fank, they take quite a long time from start to finish, but the good news is, lots of that is down time. So while you need to be around for a few hours, it's not like you're working non-stop on them either. I usually like to make them on the weekends, when we're staying in. That way, I can start them in the morning, and they're usually ready for lunch.
And I swear, they're SO worth the trouble. They taste nothing like store-bought doughnuts, they're much better! They're a little crispy on the outside, and so soft on the inside, with their big air bubbles. Without further ado, here's the authentic fank recipe my grandmother makes:
2 cups of milk
Half a tablespoon of dry yeast
2 eggs + 3 egg yolks
2/3 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of butter
7-8 cups of flour
Lemon zest to taste (I usually do half a lemon)
Oil for frying
*For once, you will notice that the ingredients are somewhat precise, at least more than usual. That's because pastry, and everything close, is the only thing for which I bother with quantities, as it has to be quite precise.
Pour the milk in a microwaveable bowl and heat it up until it's warm. This part is one of the trickiest, because the yeast rising depends on it. It has to be warm enough that the yeast rises, but not hot enough to burn it and kill it. I usually heat it for about 45 seconds, or until it's slightly warmer than skin temperature. You should be able to put a finger in it and feel warmth, without burning yourself.
Once the milk is warm, add a bit of the sugar (about 2 spoonfuls), the yeast, and mix lightly. Set that aside in a warm space for maybe 10-15 minutes. I like to leave it on the stove, under the kitchen hood's light, as it's usually the warmest place in the kitchen.
That milk-sugar-yeast mixture is gonna be the base for the fank dough. The secret with yeast is warmth and sugar, so all along the recipe, you're gonna want to let it rise in a warm space.
While the base mixture is getting all bubbly and reactive, take a big mixing bowl and whip the eggs with the sugar. Then, add the base mixture to it and mix it together, adding the melted butter, lemon zest and then the flour, one cup at a time.
I usually start mixing the dough with a wooden spoon and finish with my hands when it gets thick enough. You'll want to knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it's all smooth and uniform. Kneading it for a longer time will also allow more air to get in, which will make the dough all bubbly... And that's exactly what we're aiming for.
You should add a little more flour if the dough is super sticky, until you can manipulate it with your hands.
Once your done kneading it, line the mixing bowl with oil and put the dough back in. Then, you'll want to cover it with a humid kitchen rag and leave it in a warm place for 1.5-2 hours. I usually pre-heat the oven to 200F with the oven door open for a few minutes. Then, when it's warm enough that it feels like Mexico weather, I turn off the heat, put my bowl inside and forget about it. *Careful though, if you're using a plastic bowl, that the oven rack is not hot enough to melt it. You don't want to cook the dough, you just want to give it enough warmth that the yeast rises properly.
After 2 hours, it should have at least doubled in volume. Sprinkle flour directly on your countertop, take out the dough and stretch it with your hands. You'll want to form a slab that's about 1" thick. Then, take a drinking glass and cut-out circles in the dough, like you would use a cookie-cutter for cookies.
Once your fank are shaped, take the same humid kitchen rag and cover them. Make sure the rag is not dry or it'll stick to the dough and totally ruin your fank. It can't be dripping wet either, because all you'll be left with is a disgusting mess. And it'll squish your fank. You'll want to let your fank rise again for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Once they're ready, take a deep pot, and fill it until there's approximately 3" of oil. Heat up the oil at medium heat, until it starts bubbling when you put something in it. Now this is the trickiest part. Your oil has to be hot enough to cook the fank, but not too hot either. If you put a fank in the oil and it gets brown almost instantly, your oil is WAY too hot. The fank are gonna be burned on the outside and still raw inside. You want the oil to just gently sizzle when you drop a fank in it and then slowly turn golden.
Fry all the fank until they're golden. Usually I like to do a test with one, crack it open and see if it's well cooked inside and ready to go. Lay the fank on paper towels as soon as you take them out of the oil.
I usually serve them right away, after sprinkling them with icing sugar. You can keep them covered, out on the counter for about 2 days, but the fresher the better. On day 2, I usually eat them with Nutella and strawberries.
So that's it guys, that's how you make Hungarian doughnuts. I hope this recipe will delight you as much as it reminds me of my childhood. Definitely let me know if you decide to make them. DM me a picture on Instagram, and I'll share it on my stories!
Wishing you all a Happy Easter weekend!
Love, Jenny xx