Gooseberry Jam Donuts

25 Jul 2012

“You can’t grow hairs on a duck egg,

Hairs only grow on an ape,

And it’s only the hairs on a goosegog,

That stop it from being a grape.”

~author unknown

As I patiently plucked goosegog after goosegog last weekend, I contemplated how deceptively ‘like grapes’ these little fruits appear to be. But, after popping one little globe into my mouth, while simultaneously hearing “Oh, you may not want to eat them raw” warned from behind me at precisely the same time, I realized in a bite, how absolutely ‘not like a grape’ and more like a lemon, they are…..{Cook’s Note: gooseberries are very sour and tart when eaten raw. There are some exceptions to this, but it is generally the rule.}

Yes, the glory of gooseberry season has arrived in the Irish countryside. I have been patiently waiting for harvest time since peeking in on the bushes last month to find that they were all beginning to produce berries. When there was finally a window of sunshine, Geoffrey and I quickly marched straight on over to the little farm orchard and harvested green and red gooseberries with Gran from six thriving bushes.

This is my third year being acquainted with gooseberries. We have become fast friends. Sure, we always have a little scuffle when I go to pick them from their thorny branches, but once made into jam, all is forgiven again. Last year, I made a simple gooseberry froyo and the year before I posted “Peggy’s Gooseberry Jam” my mother-in-law’s lovely recipe.

This time around, Peggy gave us free reign over the berries as she still has a cupboard full of jam lingering from last season. Since we picked about 8 lbs (15 kgs), I decided to use the berries a few different ways. After a half a day of topping and tailing the berries, we gave them a good wash and they were prepped and ready for the world.

At the brilliant suggestion of my friend, Heidi, at Serious Jam, I combined gooseberry with roasted garlic for a gorgeous relish that will be lovely on crostini or with some sharp Irish cheddar. Then, I made a few pots of classic jam using my spanking new jam jars from Hen and Hammock. After that, we baked two gooseberry-elderflower tarts “grandma style” that were specially requested by my father-in-law.

BUT, best of all….we made:

Homemade donuts are no strangers in this house {cough}, but I had never attempted to make a jam donut up until now. I must admit, jam donuts were never a particular favourite of mine growing up. This is important to note, as I do consider myself somewhat of a donut addict aficionado. I have always relished Long Johns, Persians, Krullers, Kolaches, Fritters, or basically any type of raised unfilled donut slathered with vanilla, chocolate, or maple icing and toasted coconut, crushed peanuts, or various sprinkles gracing the tops. Then, there is also my affinity to the glazed, sugared, and cinnamon-sugared ring donuts and holes.  There was only one exception to my unfilled donut preference; I have always adored bismark donuts filled with custard and poofed all over with powdery confectioners sugar.

For whatever reason, the jelly-jam injection just did not strike my fancy.

Until now.

Originating in Germany around 1532, calling themselves “Berliner Buns” the jelly doughnut popularity spread across Europe swiftly. And, from what I can tell, jam doughnuts appear to be the doughnut-of-choice in Ireland.  They are mostly filled with a very sweet black currant or raspberry jam, and sprinkled liberally with sugar. Every bakery, grocery store, filling station and farmer’s market will have jam donuts ready and waiting for you.

At the little farmer’s urging, we decided to make the doughnuts on Saturday morning and fill them with our freshly potted gooseberry jam. For a little more novelty, we decided to mix up some lemonade and try to sell our donuts and lemonade at the farm gate.

We had one very good customer, and his name was Daddy.

Still, we had no problem finishing off our leftover stock……

Move over Long John, Jammy’s moving in.

Geoffrey’s Gooseberry Jam Doughnuts


2 (7 g each) packets of dried yeast granules

1/4 cup or 60ml warm water

1 cup or 250ml warm milk

1/4 cup or 60g caster/superfine sugar

60g or 3 tbsp butter, melted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 3/4  cups or 165g  plain flour

1/2 cup or 75g gooseberry jam (or any flavour), approximately {Peggy’s recipe is nice}

Oil for deep frying and icing/confectioner’s sugar for coating


Combine yeast, water milk and sugar in small bowl.

Cover, stand in warm place about 10 minutes or until mixture is frothy.

Stir butter and eggs into yeast mixture.

Sift flour into large bowl, stir in yeast mixture, mix to a soft dough.

Cover, stand in warm place about 45 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes or until smooth.

Roll dough until about 2cm (about 1 inch) thick, cut into 5cm (about 2.5 inch) rounds.

Loosely cover rounds with oiled plastic wrap, stand in warm place about 10 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.

Deep-fry doughnuts in batches in hot oil until well browned, turning once.

Drain on absorbent paper, toss doughnuts immediately in icing sugar

Let cool slightly and fill a pastry bag, fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip with jam.

Insert the tip into the end of each doughnut and pipe approximately 1 to 2 teaspoons into them and serve.

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell 2012. Donut making and sales assistance by Geoffrey McDonnell.

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Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. {Thank you so much for your kind comments..really, really heartwarming}

In other news, I ate rice pudding for breakfast yesterday.

This is significant because rice pudding was not a popular treat in our home growing up. That is not to say that other families in America didn’t enjoy the benefits of this beautiful, creamy delight (but, umm..did they?) It’s just that our place was more of a chocolatey….butterscotchy…poppyseed-y kinda joint.

Having said that, I secretly always loved tapioca pudding. I enjoyed how you could feel the pearls of tapioca rice in each mouthful…how you could roll those velvety little lumps around in your mouth this-a-way and that-a-way and then try to bite down on just one pearl which never seemed to work. I guess you could say that I loved the very thing about tapioca that puts many people off: the lump factor.

When I moved to Ireland, it took me awhile to get used to the Irish repertoire of confections. In particular, I found it peculiar that jam is used to sweeten many desserts and sweet treats. Jam on scones. Jam on sponge. Jam donuts. Jammy Dodgers. And, of course, jam on rice pudding. I had been accustomed to thick, buttercream frostings or custard fillings as a conduit to the sweet.

I discovered the glory of rice pudding shortly after moving out to the farm. We ventured to a lovely inn for a family Sunday lunch and in between bites of my roast lamb and three versions of potatoes, I noticed the constant flow of rice pudding in fancy dessert glasses being carried out by serious waiters to various patrons in the dining room. When it came time to order our final course, my mother-in-law, Peggy, ordered the rice pudding and I followed suit. It came with a dab of raspberry jam and a dollop of freshly whipped cream. It was ravishing. And, suddenly, jam made sense.

This week I received a long-awaited, anxiously anticipated parcel from my friend, Heidi Skoog. Heidi is a florist in Minneapolis and now also purveyor of gorgeous jams and jellies which are aptly named, Serious Jam. I got to sample some of her new jams over the summer and instantly fell in love. I couldn’t resist ordering some from her website to have in our cupboard for the winter. And, I specifically couldn’t wait to for this jam to grace the top of a dainty glass of rice pudding.

I found out later that rice pudding is actually Peggy’s favorite {with Victoria Sponge a close second} although she only eats it when dining out.  I decided to bake up a batch in the morning (with a taste-test for brekkie) and bring it over to share over tea yesterday afternoon. Popped a sprig of rosemary in the baking dish and topped it off with Heidi’s violette + plum jam and a wee bit of cream and that is all that needs to be said.

Happy days.

Recipe is pretty standard. Here it is excerpted from a classic Irish secondary school cookery book, All In The Cooking.{Moderate oven = 300 F or 150 C}

Slan Abhaile,


Photos & Styling by Imen McDonnell. Jam by Serious Jam.

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