While baking is a constant in our family, my hectic work schedule doesn’t allow for much daylight baking time. It’s quite often in the middle of the night or sometime at dawn, when the children are sleeping, that you’ll find me in the kitchen kneading. So the holidays offer the greatest gift of all, time with my family. On a recent holiday eve, I asked the kids what bake they’d like for breakfast. I was thinking of the usual suspects on their request list such as coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, cream biscuits, croissants, etc. At that moment, my son’s face lights up and he screams “DOUGHNUTS!!!” The excitement is contagious and almost immediately, my daughter exuberantly exclaims, “YEAH DOUGHNUTS!”
My only dumbfounded reply is…seriously guys? When was the last time you witnessed me deep fry anything? Why doughnuts? “Because we really like the ones dad buys us,” they reply sheepishly, knowing full well that they are probably breaking the pact they made with dad about telling mom he buys them doughnuts from the hole in the wall that makes mom cringe.
Doughnuts it is then! I said this feigning confidence, knowing full well I have never made a doughnut in my life. After a late night of working on a recipe, I jumped out of bed early the next morning with visions of the kids waking up to either light as air, vanilla laced glazed doughnuts, or oil laden hockey pucks. Thankfully for all involved, they were amazing and I knew I had to share the recipe with you all.
This recipe yields approximately 2 dozen doughnuts and 2 dozen doughnut holes.
1 ½ cups (12 ounces/355 ml) whole milk, scalded
¼ cup (2 ounces/ 59 ml) water (100 to 110 degrees F/40 to 45 degrees C)
2 packages rapid rise yeast
1/2 cup (98 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 eggs, preferably organic
1/2 cup butter (1 stick/4 ounces/114 grams), room temperature
5 cups (680 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups (24 ounces/710 ml) canola oil
How to use them:
In a small pot, scald the milk on medium low heat until the mixture is warmed all the way through and just reaches the boiling point. Visually, the point of scalding is where you see steam beginning to rise and small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. It is important to stir frequently and not to allow the milk to boil. Remove from the heat and set aside. Alternatively, you can heat the milk in the microwave on high for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, or until just hot to the touch. Stir, and set aside.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl. Add in the sugar, salt, nutmeg, eggs, butter and milk.Mix all of the ingredients until they are incorporated. Whisk in the first 2 cups of flour and then switch to a spatula. Stir in the remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well until all of the flour is incorporated.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and set aside in a draft free spot to rise until double in size, approximately 1 hour. The dough will be very soft.Turn the dough onto a floured surface and flour the top of the dough as well. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and pliable, adding flour when it becomes sticky. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes to relax the dough prior to rolling.
Roll the dough out to a ½ inch thickness with a floured rolling pin and using a doughnut cutter, or a 3 inch round cutter with a 1 inch for the center, begin cutting the doughnuts out and placing them on a lightly floured surface to rise. Cover the doughnuts with a kitchen towel and allow them to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. While the donuts are proofing, make this Vanilla Glaze and Cinnamon Sugar for dipping the donuts in.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer, or a large deep frying pan to 350 degrees F (175 degree C). I used a small fryer here. Carefully and gently place the doughnuts in the oil, leaving at least 2 inches of space between each one. Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon turn the doughnuts when they are a golden caramel color. When the other side is a golden caramel color as well, then they are done! Take them out of the oil and allow the oil to drip off for a moment.Place on a cooling rack to drain.To glaze, I use a chopstick to quickly dip one side of the doughnut, turn it over and then lift up and allow it to drain the excess glaze for a moment. Place on a cooling rack and allow to drip dry.Don’t forget the doughnut holes!For the cinnamon sugar, dip the warm donuts in the cinnamon sugar, making certain that all of the sides are covered, and place on cooling rack.All that’s missing now is a freshly brewed cup of coffee….….and a bite. With the first nibble you can taste the light, airy, sugary scrumptiousness.