Schermer at Home: Brian Noyes of Red Truck Bakery, Warrenton, VA

Schermer at Home: Brian Noyes of Red Truck Bakery, Warrenton, VA

Schermer at Home: Brian Noyes of Red Truck Bakery, Warrenton, VA
By Stephanie Burt, The Southern Fork  

“Baking is like learning a new language,” says Brian Noyes, owner of Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, VA. “It’s more chemistry and science than cooking, so you have to get comfortable at each step.”

Brian was a hobbyist baker for years during off-hours as the art director for the Washington Post and Smithsonian magazine, but when his hobby turned to selling baked goods out of an old truck, and then that got a mention in the New York Times, he gave up the publishing business and began baking full-time. He says most people, including him in the early days, are intimidated most by biscuits and pie crusts, so that’s what he started with, just working recipes until he was yearning to move onto the next step.

These doughnuts are an easy next step because they teach multiple skills and “it really is like making a little biscuit.” But he’ll admit that although these are a classic baked doughnut, he really personally prefers a deep fried doughnut, so for him, a baked doughnut needed a “little pizzazz.” Candied pecans do the trick, and by completing this recipe, you’ll be learning three skills: making a yeast “biscuit”, glazed pecans, and a thin glaze, all things that can be translated to anything from brunch meals to bundt cakes.

“Some people are so glued to a recipe, but don’t use it as just a recipe. If you use a recipe as a place to start, then it becomes a vessel to learn a new way.” And if the classroom treat is a donut topped with candied pecans that you made yourself, then that’s a sweet lesson indeed.


Holler Doughnuts

from Red Truck Bakery Cookbook: Gold-Standard Recipes from America’s Rural Bakery by Brian Noyes with Nevin Martell

1 c. whole milk, warmed
½ c. plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
½ tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. orange zest
4 tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground mace, or ground or freshly grated nutmeg
4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted, plus more as needed

For the candied pecans
½ c. granulated sugar
½ c. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large egg white
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ c. confectioners’ sugar

For the glaze
1 ½ c. confectioners’ sugar
½ c. hickory syrup (or maple syrup or sorghum syrup or a combo)

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar, and yest. Let stand for 10 minutes until foamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, lemon, and orange zests. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the citrus flavor to infuse the sugar.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar-zest mixture and the butter and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and beat until just combined. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the salt, mace, and flour until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and beat thoroughly to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Add another third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed to combine. Place the dough hook on your mixer, then add the remaining flour mixture and mix for 3 minutes on low speed, until the dough gathers on the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Keep kneading on medium-high speed for 8 minutes.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead it with your hands, flipping the dough over and over until its surface is smooth. Add more flour, a bit at a time, if needed (the dough should be soft, but not goopy.
  6. Grease a large bowl with butter, place the dough in the bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Let sit in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it out to ½-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter, cut as many rounds as you can from the dough, pressing straight down with the cutter each time (don’t twist the cutter or the doughnuts won’t rise as well). Use a 1-inch round cutter to remove the center of each doughnut (pressing straight down again). Gather up the dough scraps, including the holes, and let rest for 5 minutes, then roll out again and cut more doughnuts. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place doughnuts, then let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 30-60 minutes, until doubled in size.
  8. While the doughnuts rise, make the candied pecans: preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a wire rack inside another baking sheet.
  9. In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne.
  10. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg while, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon water until frothy. Add the pecans and toss to coat well. Add the sugar mixture and toss again until the pecans are completely covered.
  11. Spread the pecans on the parchment-lined sheet and bake for 45 minutes, tossing pecans every 15 minutes until the coating has hardened and is dark brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before coarsely chopping.
  12. Increase oven temperature to 400 F
  13. Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, syrup, and ½ cup of water. The glaze should be very thin. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary.
  14. Bake the doughnuts for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and puffy. Let cool for a few minutes. While still warm, dip the top of each doughnut into the glaze, then scatter the pecan pieces on top and place on the wire rack sheet until glaze sets.


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