What a storm we had last night! It looked like the Blitzkrieg outside with all of the lightening and thunder, I’ll say that much. The rain was much needed here, though – it’s been so hot and humid that I thought summer was coming back for a second round, but today is gorgeous, sunny, and cool, or at least it was at 7 AM, so here’s to hoping that fall is around the corner. Kramer and I keep joking that “winter is coming,” so we need to enjoy the warm weather while we can, but I’m really looking forward to jeans-and-sweaters season. I’m sure that come December, though, when I’m trekking through a few feet of snow on my way to work, I’m going to be wishing that it were hot and humid again.
These doughnuts really changed my mind about how hard it is to make a doughnut. I had never tried it before, because not only do doughnuts involve using yeast, which always scares me a bit, but you also have to fry them in hot oil, another one of my fears. I pushed those worries aside, though, because this recipe from Alton Brown is very accessibly and easy to understand. The dough isn’t at all finicky – it comes together quite easily and isn’t too sticky when being rolled out, which I was so happy about, because there’s nothing worse than trying to lift up mounds of old dough from your kitchen counter, is there? It rose just as it was supposed to, and the interior of the doughnuts were light and sweet, with lots of little air holes that make up the perfect doughnut. While I want to play around with this recipe a bit to get it just the way I want it, I think that this is a great start to a new doughnut-making relationship for me and my kitchen. I did some doughnuts in a classic vanilla glaze, some I tossed in cinnamon-sugar, and I even filled some doughnut holes with blueberry jam. It was fun to try out a few different things, and I have many more ideas in mind now that I know that making doughnuts isn’t so hard, after all! Kramer brought these into work, and I hear that they were a big hit (or at least I hope so and he’s not just trying boost my ego). I promise you that doughnut making is well within your grasp – give it a try and I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Beat the yeast, milk, and shortening in with the egg mixture, then add in half the flour, mix together, then add in the remaining flour and knead for 3-4 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- 1½ cups (360 ml) milk (I used 1%)
- 2½ ounces (70 grams or about ⅓ cup) vegetable shortening
- 2 packages (14 grams) instant yeast
- ⅓ cup warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
- 2 eggs, light beaten
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (if you don’t like nutmeg, use ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon)
- 23 ounces (about 5⅓ cups, but I really recommend weighing it out, if possible) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- Canola, peanut, or vegetable oil, for frying (enough to fill your pot with about 3 inches of oil)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 3 cups confectioners sugar
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup water
- Heat up the 1½ cups of milk in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat until steaming and very hot, about 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the shortening, whisking until fully melted. Set aside until the milk has cooled to room temperature.
- Heat up your water to 105 to 110 degrees F, then sprinkle the yeast over it, allowing it to dissolve for 5 minutes. When it has mostly dissolved, add it to a large bowl (preferably that of your stand-mixer, if you have one) and add in the milk and shortening mixture. Add in the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg (or cinnamon), and about half of the flour. Beat the ingredients together on low speed until just moistened, then add in the rest of the flour. Beat until just combined, then switch out your attachement for a dough hook, or knead by hand. Use the dough hook until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, which should take about 3-4 minutes. Oil a very large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover well with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot, such as near your window, and allow to rise for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- After the dough has risen, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, until it is about ½ inch thick. Use a doughnut cutter or a glass to cut out the doughnuts (and use a shot glass to cut out the holes of the doughnuts if you don’t have a doughnut cutter). Place the cut-out doughnuts on a lightly floured baking sheet, and cover with a dish towel. Place in a warm spot for another 30-45 minutes and let the dough rise again.
- When your doughnuts have risen, heat your oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven. Heat the oil to 365 degrees F, then carefully place the doughnuts in the oil, cooking 3 or 4 at a time so that they aren’t over crowded. Cook for 1 minute on each side, then transfer to a cooling race to cool. If you want to roll the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar, roll them in the combined 1½ cups of granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon immediately after removing them from the oil. If you want to use the glaze, wait to glaze them until they are completely cool.
- To make some jelly-filled doughnut holes, simply make a hole in one side of the doughnut with a chopstick, and wiggle the chopstick around inside the doughnut hole to make room for the jam. Use a pastry bag with a metal tip, and squeeze the jam into the doughnut until it’s filled. Glaze or toss in powdered sugar, whichever you desire.
- These can be stored in an container with a loose fitting lid, separated by parchment paper, for 24 hours. I recommend letting them stay out in the open air as long as possible before storing them, as the humidity inside of the container can cause them to become soggy after too much time – they truly are best when enjoyed the day of, but as long as you are careful with them, they are delicious the next day, too.
- Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon, adding more of one or the other if you feel it’s necessary. Dip the doughnuts in the cinnamon-sugar mixture as soon as they are removed from the hot oil and set on a rack to cool.
- For the glaze, whisk together the confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, kosher salt, and water until smooth. Add more water or confectioners sugar if needed. When the doughnuts have cooled completely, dip them all in the glaze and place on a rack to set. If you have leftover glaze, feel free to double dip the doughnuts.