Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Food Craft: Donuts

What could be better than fresh, home made donuts? Well, every time I make something in the kitchen I seem to think it's the best thing ever, but these really are pretty great. My husband had it in his head for over a week that he wanted, nay needed, to make some donuts. When he gets something in his head, it has to happen or I have to hear about it until it does, so donuts were made.

These are a yeasted donut, as that is what we prefer, but I'm sure donut holes would be incredibly simple if you used a cake batter and just dropped rounded scoops of cake batter into the hot oil. Go nuts!

For these donuts we used my dinner roll dough recipe, below:

1 cup warm milk
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), room temperature (you can microwave to soften, it's ok if some is melted)
1 egg
3 1/2 cups flour (plus a little extra for your counter tops when kneading)

About 1/2 gallon of vegetable oil for frying

* These weren't very sweet on their own, but were just right with a glaze or rolled in cinnamon sugar, If you want your donuts to stand on their own I would add an extra 1/4 cup of either white or brown sugar (you could also add some spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to the dough itself).

Start by warming your milk. This can be done in a microwave or in a small saucepan on your stove top. It should be around 108-110 degrees, too hot and it will kill your yeast (not a yummy thing). Put your milk, yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl (or stand mixer) and mix it together a little bit, let stand for about 5 minutes.

Next, add in your butter and egg, plus one cup of your flour. Mix this together until your egg and any butter lumps are worked into the dough (sometimes I just melt all of my butter to avoid the lumps altogether). Then add in the rest of your flour and mix until it has come together. Remove onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a couple minutes, if your dough is too sticky you can add a bit more flour (with all the rain we get here I often have to add up to an extra 1/2 cup). Don't add too much extra, this dough is a pretty soft dough, you just don't want it to be a sticky glob.

Place dough into a greased bowl and cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for an hour, or until it has doubled in size. Punch down, and allow to rise an extra 30-45 minutes (until doubled in size again).

Roll out your dough to about 1 inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut out your donut shapes. We have large and small circle cutters to cut out the traditional donuts with a hole in it shape, and have the lovely little donut holes left over as well, you could also cut any other shape and leave the center intact, but remember that extra cooking time will be needed (about and extra 30-45 seconds per side). Once your donuts are cut out, let them rise again for about 30 minutes while you heat your oil (and who wants a dense donut?).

Heat your oil (we used vegetable oil, canola is also a good one to use) to 375 degrees (yes, a thermometer is important). I always use a cast iron pot when frying, it holds the temperature to maintain even cooking much better than a thin walled pot, but if you pay attention with a thermometer and don't overcrowd your pan with donuts you shouldn't need one. I always plop in a donut hole on it's own first to test the heat and see how long on each side my donuts will likely take. You, of course, have to eat this first "test" donut hole, for science, right?

Then, fry up your batches of donuts and donut holes, until all are cooked and set them on a wire cooling rack to cool. I place paper towel on my counter top and the cooling rack on top of that to keep the oily towel from resting against my donuts and making the bottom soggy. Also, this way you can drizzle on a powdered sugar glaze and have it not mess up the counter tops, and not pool at the bottom of your donut.

My husband made a yummy orange flavored glaze for our donuts using:

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Stir these 3 together, and then add water until your glaze reaches the desired consistency (ours was fairly thin, I want to say we added about a tablespoon of water).

You could also add a little orange zest if you happen to have that around, yummy! This really "made" the donuts for me, I would recommend it.


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