The Bay Area is experiencing a major storm. Schools are cancelled. Roads are flooded. Most people are tucked away indoors. It's times like these when frying up Vietnamese Hollow Donuts (Banh Tieu) sounds like a really great idea. What better way to enjoy the view of my neighbor's trashcan flying down the street than with a warm Banh Tieu in hand?
Banh Tieu is essentially a Vietnamese donut. What sets it apart from traditional Western donuts is a hollow inside and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on the outside. Plus, it's not too sweet. It has a hint of sweetness, which makes it very easy to consume a bunch at once...something I frequently do and not too ashamed to admit.
Vietnamese Hollow Donuts/Bread (Banh Tieu) Recipe
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup for dusting
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Vegetable oil for deep-frying; amount varies depending on the size of your pot
In a small bowl, lightly mix together yeast and warm water. Add sugar (1 teaspoon) and let it stand for 10 minutes until the yeast double in size. If the yeast doesn't double, the yeast is inactive and needs to be replaced before proceeding with rest of recipe.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour (2 cups), sugar, salt and baking powder.
In a stand mixer with a bread hook, add yeast mixture, flour mixture and water (a little at a time) and knead until the dough comes together and pulls cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. If you don't have a stand mixer, you can also kneed by hand on a floured surface. Transfer the dough into a well oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and place in a warm place (the oven with the lights on) for two hours. The dough should double in size.
Once the dough has finished proofing, deflate it and knead the dough into a log. Dust your hands and surface with the extra flour to prevent sticking. Cut the log into 7-10 equal pieces then roll them into balls and flatten them as thin as you can. The thinner the dough, the puffier it gets once fried.
Dip the flatten pieces of dough into a bowl of sesame seeds until it's well covered on all sides.
Fill a large pot with an inch of vegetable oil then heat to 350 F.
Deep-fry as many as your pot can handle without overcrowding. Constantly flip the dough for even coloring and cooking. Once you get a golden color, remove from oil and drain on a wired rack. Allow the Banh Tieu to cool for 3-5 minutes before consuming.