Have you ever had a yum yum before?
They taste like the lovechild of a doughnut and a croissant.
This photo is absolutely not indicative of yum yums. They’re not designed to be sweet delicacies, served individually on fancy chipped vintage plates and enjoyed with tea in matching teacups.
Let me explain. Yum yums are a cornerstone of Scottish culture, and they’re meant to be big, proper snacks – dessert not for the fainthearted, eaten in a few impressively large mouthfuls and washed down with an ice cold can of Irn Bru. And I grew up with them. Coming from an Italian family, at home we ate a lot of plates of pasta and risotto and bowls of minestrone. But when we were outside it was free reign for me and my sister and obviously to us, free reign mostly meant we could go to Gregg’s (the Bakers, to all those uninitiated) and buy yum yums. I’m almost positive Gregg’s sold other things… bread seems like a staple item for a bakers, doesn’t it? And sausage rolls. And I can distinctly remember buying a sandwich from there once. The point is, Gregg’s sold yum yums and that was all my small brain could handle and all my tastebuds desired. For less than a pound – LESS THAN A POUND, PEOPLE! – I could order this croiss-nut hybrid.
They were so ubiquitous that their regionality never really occurred to me. I assumed everyone ate these treats, which admittedly are named like they’re being marketed to babies. But when I moved down South to go to uni and some people didn't know what they were (or more likely couldn’t understand my thick accent) I was saddened to think that all their lives, my fellow students had been forced to make the choice between doughnut and croissant. Not just my fellow students, but the world! If only you all knew the saccharine shades of grey which exist between these two heavyweights of the pastry world.
But as my tastebuds matured (Hello, red wine! Olives! Mussels! Blue cheese!), my unabating appetite for yum yums, well, abated. As I started making cakes of my own the sight of a mountain of soggy pastries exposed for too long to the yellow glare of the baker’s glass cabinet counter just didn’t do it for me anymore. The sugar glaze was good – if you could get a yum yum fresh, it still cracked satisfyingly beneath your bite, giving way to fluffy, doughy carbs – but it could really do with a touch of vanilla. Or, ohmygod, I could make cinnamon sugar yum yums!
So when I saw a recipe by James Morton (of Great British Bake-Off fame!) to make them at home, how could I resist?
Certainly one pup found them lip-smackingly tasty:
The dough uses bread flour rather than plain flour, which is how croissants and doughnuts begin their life. Bread flour has a higher protein content, which makes them a bit sturdier and makes them puff up better during the frying process. But the rolling and folding of the dough beforehand emulates the way that croissants and puff pastry are made, and means that, unlike a doughnut, yum yums have a light and aerated dough. Don’t worry though, we can do all the rolling and folding at the same time so we don’t have to sit around salivating for hoooouuuuurs. I made these several times at several different sizes, and can confirm the dough works for any iteration of cutting and twisting.
From James Morton
500g (4 cups) strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
14g (1 tablespoon) fast action yeast
8g (1 ½ teaspoons) salt
30g (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
250g (1 cup) warm water
1 medium egg, whisked
100g (7 tablespoons, or 7/8 of a stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
Vegetable oil for frying
375g (3 cups) icing sugar/ powdered sugar
80ml (1/3 c) water
10ml (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
An alternative option would be to use cinnamon sugar – about 2 cups of caster sugar mixed with a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon, adjusted to taste.
- In a large bowl, add the sifted flour. At one side of the bowl add the salt, and at the other add the yeast. Add the sugar to the middle.
- Sprinkle the cubes of chilled butter onto the flour. Lightly coat with the flour to stop them from clumping together, and disperse them throughout the dry ingredients. Do not rub them into the dough to create a breadcrumb effect – we want to be able to see big bits of butter in the finished dough (this is a lazy shortcut to properly laminating!)
- Add the water and egg to the bowl and mix until a shaggy dough begins to form. You might need to use your hands to ensure that all the flour has been mopped up. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let rest in a warm environment for at least an hour, or until risen. James advises you, and I agree, to put it in the fridge and let it stay there overnight for a better tasting yum yum.
- Once the dough is rested, flour a work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle. With the long side of the rectangle facing you, close both ends in on themselves to meet in the middle, then close the whole thing like a book. You should have four layers of dough.
- Roll this thick mini-rectangle out again and repeat the folding technique. Repeat this four or five times – each time equals a better dough! – until the lumps of butter have almost disappeared. Wrap your completed rectangle in clingfilm and let it rest for an hour.
- Once rested again, roll your dough out into another big rectangle on a well-floured surface. Cut strips of desired size for your yumyum – my larger ones were about 15cm long, and the small ones about 10cm, and both were about 5cm wide. A small slit in the middle of the rectangle allows you to fold the dough in a nice twirl and ensures it won’t unravel when it fries. I obviously couldn’t leave well enough alone and started shaping mine all crazy ways.
- Leave them to rest for, I’m sorry to announce, at least another hour. They should rise a bit again.
- With about 20 minutes to spare before the yum yums are ready to be cooked, you can begin to get a prep station organized. Make your icing by combining all ingredients and whisking thoroughly to ensure there are no lumps. Have a pastry brush handy for glazing. Set up lots of kitchen paper to absorb any dripped oil, and on top of this sit some cooling racks for the finished yum yums to cool on.
- Get a large pot and fill with oil, until it’s about 3 inches deep, and heat on low until the oil reaches 170-180°C/ 340-355°F. We want to keep the oil at this temperature throughout, so do check it at intervals to make sure the yum yums aren’t being burned.
- With a set of metal tongs, slide two or three yum yums into the oil and fry on each side until golden-brown, about two or three minutes. Don’t overcrowd the pot or they’ll stick together.
- When done, remove from the oil with metal tongs and sit on a cooling rack. Brush immediately with the glaze and leave to cool completely.
And now wash these down with a cold can of Irn Bru.