I made donuts the other day. I was inspired by the memory of walking to the train when I lived in Park Slope. There were two women who sold little donuts in the morning on their stoop. I never bought them, sadly, but they did inspire me to DIY this Homeric delight.
How did I do? I think they came out alright, perhaps a bit better than alright. I will let you know how I made them, but I think there is something missing to really raise them to the level of greatness. I think that they needed something to push against the sweetness to give their flavor some focus. I am thinking perhaps salt, but I would have to test the idea out. If you have suggestions, ideas, or anecdotes of your own attempts to conquer making donuts, please share in the comments.
The recipe is from Donna Hay's Modern Classics Book Two and I will give you a generalization of what is found in that book. If you want specifics, email me. To begin gather your materials:
Most of the ingredients are household staples.
package of active yeast
luke warm water
luke warm milk
all purpose flour
Equipment you will need (what I actually used):
rolling pin (I used an empty tin that was used to package fancy spaghetti; an old wine bottle also works nicely).
spice grinder, if you don't have ground cinnamon (I did not so I put two cinnamon sticks in the blender and hit the grind function then I transferred to a small bowl and then scooped contents into a a metal tea strainer and tapped contents back into bowl, shaking out the finely ground cinnamon and discarding the larger bits. A lot easier, if you have it, is a coffee grinder. Clean well and then grind).
tea towel (I have a lot of dish towels so I used that, but paper towels can work too).
sauce pan (I used a frying pan, but sauce pan would be better)
donut cutter (I used an empty jar and an empty cap, washed of course)
Donuts in three relatively easy steps:
Step 1: Make doug
This is pretty basic stuff. It's also time consuming, oy! Okay, put the yeast in the bowl with the milk and water at stated temperature and add sugar. Leave in a warm place. I put bowl over an unlit burner. Cover, and let the yeast gorge. Ten minutes later you'll have some happy foamy yeast. FEED THE YEAST! What I mean is add the rest of your materials to make the dough. You're going to add more sugar, flour, eggs and the melted butter. Work it like baby! Use the knife as your dancing prop.
Okay! Cool it. The dough is well combined and kind of sticky. Flour the spot you're going to knead it. Do what you gotta do. place the doug in an oiled bowl and let it rest for 40-45 minutes, basically until the dough has doubled.
Step two: Make the tires
Your dough has risen and now you're ready to knead it out and make your donut shapes. You are supposed to leave the donuts alone for 3o minutes before frying. What I found was helpful was to fill a plate and let them rest over an unlit burner. Then I would fill another plate. When I had made all the donuts, which took some time! I started frying the first plate of donuts I had made. Remember you will have to re-roll out all the holes you cut out. You'll end up with about 30 donuts in the end.
Step Three: Fry baby, fry
Ok! So you are at the home stretch. Heat your oil and put a test scrap of dough in there to find out if the oil is hot enough. If the oil isn't hot enough the dough will absorb way too much oil. You want the dough to be lightly golden. Leave donuts in oil for one minute on each side. The virtue of using the frying pan was that I could do four at a time. My sauce pan could only hold two tops. When you take them out, drain briefly on paper towels. After you do that dip them in sugar. I dipped some in granulated sugar and cinnamon and others in just powdered sugar. That's it. Easy as, well, donuts!