a culinary triumph

The last time I attempted doughnuts, months ago, I had it in mind that I would reap a plateful of hot, fluffy, sugary treats with pillowy insides and a delightfully crusty outside. Instead I got dough that was difficult to work with, that didn’t rise enough the second time (or truthfully probably not enough the first time, either) and doughnuts that were dense and disgusting. Not to mention the “glaze” that went with them. Painfully sweet and syrupy instead of glaze-y. The whole experience was a disaster, to put it lightly. I was dejected enough not to try doughnuts again for awhile, until I saw several blog posts about doughnuts recently. It was like they were taunting me. So I decided to forgo the whole “baking them” thing in hopes they’d be a little healthier (honestly, I don’t care how you make them, doughnuts aren’t healthy) and get in some dough frying practice. The result was spectacular: a gorgeous, brown, crispy outside, a beautifully puffy inside, and a glaze that actually was a glaze and set well on the doughnuts. I raised my fist in triumph as I ate five of them. I’m proud, people. The doughnuts didn’t beat me this time. I win.

Yeasted Doughnuts
recipe from Whisk Kid (via Alton Brown)

You Need:

1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole)
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup warm water
2 packets of yeast
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 1/2 cups flour (I actually ended up needing a little more – something like 4 3/4 cups)

In a pan, heat the shortening with the milk until the shortening melts. Let it cool to lukewarm. In a bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast. Let it sit until foamy. When the milk/shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add it to the yeast mixture. Add in the eggs, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and a little bit of the flour (I used 2 cups to start with). Combine everything and keep adding flour to the mixture until you get a soft dough that isn’t excessively sticky, but isn’t dense, either. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl, turn to cover the top of the dough, then cover it up with plastic wrap or a towel. Let it sit for about an hour or until it doubles.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out. Recipe says 3/8 of an inch – I have no idea what that means. I rolled mine out so that it wasn’t thick but not paper thin either. Stamp out your doughnuts with a 2 1/2 inch cutter and use a much smaller ring for the centers. Or if you have a doughnut cutter by all means, use it. Set the doughnuts and their holes onto parchment or towel lined cookie sheets. Cover and let rise again until puffed up. It took mine about 30 minutes to rise up well again. Heat some oil in a Dutch oven or a deep fryer. Heat the oil to 365. I set up a candy thermometer in a deep pot and clipped it to the side so I could monitor the oil temp. Fry the doughnuts a few at a time, frying at least a minute on each side, until deep golden brown. Drain on paper towel lined cooling racks. (I used a spider to turn my doughnuts and fish them out and it worked out fine, by the way). Let them cool before glazing.

Doughnut Glaze

You need:
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla until warm. Stir in the powdered sugar and whisk it lightly until everything is incorporated. Place some warm water in a large bowl (big enough to set the pan in) and glaze your doughnuts. Let the glaze set for a few minutes before eating. With this recipe, I almost didn’t have enough to cover all my doughnuts, so instead of glazing the doughnut holes, I combined sugar and cinnamon, and just shook the holes in that instead.

This entire recipe easily made two dozen doughnuts, so I suggest you assemble some people to help you eat them. I took a bunch to my in laws this morning and will probably take some to work tomorrow, if I feel that they’ll still taste good after sitting overnight. We’ll see.

baking music: I’ve got Lissie’s cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” in my head and it just runs there over and over.




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6 responses to “a culinary triumph

  1. this is exactly the encouragement i needed. i’m making doughnuts next weekend. i think.

  2. rebekah

    they were totally worth getting up early.

    my only advice is keep a close eye on your oil temperature if you fry instead of bake. i truly think that makes all the difference in how well they cook up.

  3. i never have taken the temperature of my oil. ever. but i know for something like this, i will need to spring for a thermometer.

  4. rebekah

    a good thermometer has kept me from poking holes all in my meats while testing them, tells me when baked breads are done if i’m not sure, and is great for candy making. also, i will not lie, i primarily wanted one to test oil to make good puffy tacos. or for erik to make good puffy tacos. puffy tacos are the only thing that really matters. really.

  5. i havent had a puffy taco in years. i’m afraid of the masa.

    • rebekah

      Me too (i’m afraid of the masa, I mean). I totally need to start that Masa Pimpin’ business and send Erik to people who don’t have the masa in their lives. The boy is a masa genius.

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