August 24, 2011

Old Fashioned Doughnuts

Dear Friend,

I made you these doughnuts. I spent the last few days cornered in my tiny kitchen trying to perfect the perfect batch. I know how you love your doughnuts. For this reason, I knew that you would be extra critical of me. So, I tweaked and played until I came up with something worthy of your discerning palate. I don't consider myself an expert. Doughnut maker that is. In all honesty, I am quite the beginner. This year I have attempted a number of new recipes. I have become much more confident in my baking skills, and am slowing achieving more successes than failures. You could say that I am flourishing in the kitchen. It is with this confidence that I mustered up the courage to make you this sweet treat.

At first, I was quite intimidated by the recipe. You know that whenever a recipe instructs me to heat up a large pot of oil to 375ºF, I start to feel slightly trepedatious. I imagine myself tripping over Ody and landing face first in a pot of oil. I also don't particularly enjoy the tiny sparks of oil that choose, ever so randomly, to come jumping at my arms and face like I've just sprinkled in a packet of pop rockets. You feel the same way? I thought I was in this alone. This reassures me.

This year I have made myself a list of recipes. A list of recipes I want to conquer. I don't mean mac and cheese or PB and J. I mean really challenging, difficult, super rewarding recipes. I was hoping you would be able to try them all, but I understand that you have a busy schedule. Although, it would be really special if you could try this one. It's a winner for sure. I wasn't sure if you liked cake doughnuts or yeast doughnuts. Cake doughnuts are risen with baking powder and are generally dense and cake-like, while yeast doughnuts are made with a sweet dough and are risen with yeast. Yeast doughnuts are lighter and fluffier. I think I remember you telling me that you preferred yeast doughnuts. I totally understand. Light, soft, airy, and melt-in-your-mouth. Are you thinking cotton candy? Because that's what came to my mind. My mister has a cotton candy machine. I know I've told you how much of a mess it makes, and how it annoys the heck out of me, those tiny sand-like crystals all over the floor. But mr. H gets so excited when friends ask him to make cotton candy. He is totally proud. Like a little kid showing off his new truck. And the look of joy and excitement in his face - it calms my rage. Next time you visit we will make cotton candy. I promise.

Let me tell you a bit more about these doughnuts. The 4th batch was far easier to make than the first. I tried to be very clear and specific in the recipe below. I really want you to succeed. I want you to make these doughnuts with confidence. I want you to make the heck out of them. Before you start this recipe, you should get a thermometer. I wish you had of been around to convince me that I needed a thermometer. I would have listened to you. I always do. If I had a thermometer for the first batch, I wouldn't have overcooked the outside of the doughnuts and undercooked the inside. If you were here, we probably could have figured this out sooner. We work well together, I know. If you were here, you would have probably reminded me to put the second batch somewhere high, so that Ody couldn't reach them.

I made a variety of flavors. I know how much variety you need in your life. I made you cinnamon sugar, glazed, and sprinkles. I liked glazed the best, but I am sure you would like the sprinkles. You're just that type of girl. Fun, colorful, outgoing. You always make me smile. I am so glad I learned to make doughnuts. They are so much fun. These doughnuts turned out light and fluffy. Deliciously sweet. Melt in your mouth goodness. I hope you like them as much as I do.

makes 20 - 24
recipe adapted from Doughnut Delight by Jean Anderson
notes: It is important when frying the doughnuts, that the oil maintain a temperature of 360 - 375ºF. If the oil is at the appropriate temp, they should evenly brown on each side after one minute of frying. If they darken to quickly once added to the oil, then it is likely too hot. The oil temp will reduce 10 degrees once you add the doughnuts, therefore start out with the oil a bit hotter.

2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup warm water + dash of sugar
5 tsp (2 - 7g packets) active dry yeast
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 cups of vegetable oil for frying

1/2 cup white granulated sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter + 1 cup powdered sugar + 3/4 tsp vanilla + 3 tbsp warm water

In a heavy bottom saucepan on low-med heat, add the milk . Stir frequently to ensure that the milk does not thicken on the bottom or burn. Continue to heat until small bubbles start to form around the sides of the pot and it reaches 180ºF. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let it cool to 110ºF.

While the butter and milk are cooling, proof the yeast by adding 2 packets of dry active yeast to 2/3 cup warm water and a small pinch of sugar. Let it sit for 5 - 10 minutes.

Stir the warm milk and 3/4 cup of sugar in a large bowl. Add in the yeast and stir. Add half of the flour and combine until incorporated. Add the lightly beaten eggs, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and combine.
Add the rest of the sifted flour and combine.

Knead the dough for one minute. Shape it into a ball and place into a large oiled bowl. Cover and let double in size in a warm draft free area. This should take anywhere from 1 - 3 hours.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Place it on a floured work surface and roll it into a 1/2 inch thick sheet. Dip a doughnut cutter, round cookie cutter, or the bottom of a glass into flour. Cut out the doughnut shapes and place them onto a baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise for 30 - 40 minutes.

Heat the oil to 375ºF in a large pot. Place 3 doughnuts at a time into the oil and fry for 1 minute on each side. Place the cooked doughnuts onto a paper towel to soak up the remaining oil.

Once the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, dip them in either the cinnamon sugar mixture or the glaze, and then top with sprinkles. To prepare the glaze, heat 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and stir. Mix in 3/4 tsp of vanilla and 3 tbsp warm water. Whisk until smooth.


  1. Absolutely stunning photos!! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  2. OMG these look amazing my fav kind can you make them again in Nov please

  3. Why did you do this to me? Now I feel like I have to make these doughnuts! Great photos :)

  4. These look amazing! For a good cake doughnut:

  5. These remind me of the doughnuts my cousin and I would make with our Great Great Aunt when we were little. Cant wait to try these out. I think I will continue the family tradition and make these with my 3 beautiful nieces. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Absolutely beautiful photography! Love it.