Malasada is a yeasted-fried doughnut, made from dough enriched with eggs, butter, and evaporated milk. They are golden-brown, pillowy, and tossed in granulated sugar while still warm. Although many think of a malasada as a Hawaiian doughnut, they in fact originated in Portugal. In the 19th century, the Hawaiian government encouraged immigrants familiar with sugar cane production to come to Hawaii and work. Portuguese laborers arrived and brought with them the malasada.
Malasadas are so popular in Hawaii that there is even a special day when they are celebrated. Named Malasada Day (or Fat Tuesday), it is held at the beginning of Lent, on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
For best results with this malasada recipe, include the optional potato starch. It makes working with the dough much easier. These malasadas call for instant yeast, which simplifies the assembly of the dough. There is no need to proof the yeast before beginning to mix the dough—you merely add it along with the rest of your dry ingredients.
Patience is the name of the game here, which arguably is close to impossible when doughnuts are involved. But, if you can find it in yourself to just let the dough rise and double at its own pace, you will be rewarded with sweet sugary pillowy doughnut goodness.
Gather the ingredients. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, 1/3 cup of the sugar, yeast, potato starch (if using), and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until light and frothy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and evaporated milk and beat on medium to combine.
Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook, and on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.
Turn the dough out into a medium bowl that has been greased with cooking spray or softened butter. Turn the dough ball over in the bowl to coat it in spray or butter, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it has practically doubled in size.
Remove the dough from the bowl, place it on your work surface (you should not need to flour it, but do so lightly, if the dough is too sticky to work with), and pat the dough or roll it out into a 10 x 12-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick.
With a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out the doughnuts and place on the prepared sheet. You may re-roll your scraps and cut out additional doughnuts, but they will be tougher than your first 12.
Place the baking sheet in a warm spot, lightly covered in plastic wrap, and let the doughnuts rest on the counter until they have doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
When ready to fry, fill a large heavy pot with 2 inches of oil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot, and heat the oil on medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 350 F, or slightly above (the temperature will drop when you add your doughnuts, but while frying, you want your temperature to stay at 350 F).
Once the oil is at temperature, carefully transfer a couple of doughnuts to the oil, and fry for about 90 seconds per side, or until lightly browned. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, being careful not to overcrowd the pan and lower the temperature of the oil too much.
Without burning your fingers, dip the warm doughnuts into the remaining sugar and flip to coat. Serve immediately. The doughnuts will keep for a day or two, but they are best eaten within a few hours of making.
- Enriched dough takes a long time to rise, but if all of your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin mixing your dough, you will have a bit of a leg up, as cold ingredients will cause your dough to rise even more slowly.
- If you do not have a 3-inch cookie cutter, you can slice them into 3-inch squares with a sharp paring knife.
- If you use a cookie cutter to form your doughnuts and end up with scraps, try frying a scrap first before you begin on the doughnuts. This will help you gauge just how long it takes for the dough to brown in the hot oil.
- Although not quite the same as the day they were made, malasadas can be refrigerated, or you can keep them on the counter—either way, wrap them in plastic wrap, and eat the next day. Reheat them in a microwave or toaster oven to enjoy warm.
- Although these malasadas are quite traditional with no adornment save for a coating of granulated sugar, feel free to go rogue. Try cinnamon sugar, a dusting of confectioners' sugar, or a dip in an easy glaze.
- Often folks fill their malasadas with pudding, custard, or cream. A coconut filling would be delish, as would a vanilla pastry cream. You can use a paring knife to make a small hole on the outside edge of the doughnut, and then pipe the filling into the hole.