If you are familiar with doughnut companies in Seattle, or are yourself a Seattleite, then you are likely to have heard of Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts. Top Pot may be the most successful, and most well known donut shop in Seattle. Did you know that at each home game for the Seattle Seahawks, Top Pot sells about 1,000 donuts in the stadium, and that half of them are maple bars? It’s true.
Other places might sell Long Johns, or Eclairs, but here in the Pacific Northwest, we love our maple bars. I’ve been wanting to make these for the longest time. When a co-worker gave me this Top Pot recipe book, I decided it was time to make some maple bars.
Maple Bars (taken directly with minor changes from Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker)
3 Tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (110 degrees F)
1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground (Top Pot uses ground mace)
2 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
canola oil, for frying
Maple icing (recipe below)
Place warm water (about 110 degrees F.) in the base bowl of a stand mixer, and dissolve the 1 Tablespoon of sugar to it. Add the yeast and stir, then leave to bloom, about 5 minutes. If it doesn’t bloom within ten minutes, start over because the yeast might be dead, or the temperature of the water might have been too high or too cold. Water should feel warm, but not be too hot.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine thoroughly. Set aside.
Add the vegetable shortening, egg yolks, and vanilla extract to the yeast mixture. Mix with the paddle attachment on low until shortening is broken up. Add about a third of the dry ingredients and mix until blended.
Repeat with the second third of the dry ingredients and again, mix on low.
Switch to the hook attachment and add the remaining dry mixture until you can no longer see any white spots of flour. Mix until the dough cleans the bottom of the bowl and increase speed to medium, kneading for about two more minutes. Dough should be smooth, but fairly sticky.
Transfer the dough to a baking sheet sprinkled with 1 Tablespoon flour, and shape dough into a flat 6″ by 6″ square. Dust lightly with flour and cover loosely with a dish towel.
The recipe calls for making a “proof box” with your oven by adding a 9″ by 13″ by 2″ pan of boiling water to the lower rack to create steam. This helps the dough rise faster, mine doubled within an hour, which is what the recipe in the book recommends, and although I was tempted to stray from the recipe, I literally went by the book to avoid anything going wrong.
When doubled, boil more water because you will need to replace the first tray of water for another proofing session. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and begin to roll into a 12″ by 11″ square, then trim off the sides by about 1/2″ to make it even . The resulting dough should be enough to make twelve rectangles measuring 5″ by 1 1/2″ each. Carefully transfer each rectangle to another lightly floured baking sheet, spacing them out by 2″ each, at least. and uncovered.
Place in the “proofing box”, (your oven with the pan of boiling water) and let rise again for 30 to 45 minutes, until doubled in size again.
Using a candy thermometer, heat oil carefully on medium high heat, to 350 degrees. Carefully turn heat lower if it climbs higher than 360. You want to brown the outside and be able to cook the inside, and if the temperature is too high, the inside might be raw.
Fry two or three at a time, about 30-40 seconds on the first side, then 20-30 seconds after turning over. Remember that the dough looks browner after it is done than when it is in the oil.
Carefully transfer to a rack on a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels to absorb the oil that drips down from the donuts. Wait until cooled completely to apply maple icing. Cool completely before adding icing.
For icing, combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Decide on the tops of each, usually by picking the side that is more domed. Dunk into the bowl with icing, turning on one side to let excess icing drip away. You might need to smooth and slather the icing on the tops with a butter knife or offset spatula. Enjoy!
4 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon maple extract
up to 1/3 cup hot water, depending on how thick/thin you want the icing
Combine all ingredients and whisk until desired consistency.