About this project
The Isle of Wight, quite possibly the first place in Britain to sell doughnuts, had its own version of the sweet treat: a spiced dough enclosed a small cluster of currants. In its heyday these doughnuts could be found in shops across the Island. This is my take on the recipe published by Eliza Acton in her book Modern Cookery for Private Families in 1845.
Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together until they are combined. Add the sugar, spices and yeast and stir briefly. Gradually mix in enough milk until the mixture comes together into a soft, slightly sticky dough - you may not need all of the milk. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer - mix the butter and dry ingredients together briefly before adding the milk gradually until the dough comes together.
Cover a baking tray with a piece of parchment. Knock back the dough, divide it into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Press a hollow into each ball and put a few currants in the middle. Smooth the dough back over the hole so that the currants are enclosed and place the doughnuts onto the baking tray, spaced slightly apart.
Heat vegetable oil to 180ºC either in a deep fat fryer or in a deep pan. Check that the doughnuts are sealed so that the currants will not fall out and lower them carefully into the oil - you'll probably need to cook them in two or three batches. Fry the doughnuts until golden-brown on the bottom and then carefully flip them with a slotted spoon to cook the other side - this will probably take around five or six minutes.