Many of my childhood memories are tied to food. Good flavors or bad flavors, learning production techniques or eating the results; the overwhelming majority of the gastronomic reminiscences are populated by my grandmother and mother. My grandfather shows up in his gardens, my father with his sandwiches, my sister being along for the ride and the two of us asserting our opinions on which snack was better.
Doughnuts are definitely on my Top Ten List of “Yes, please, I will have another, thank you very much.” food items. Granted, they are also near the tippy top of the list of food items one should not eat because of the perfect storm of fats and sugar making them irresistible. Most of the time, doughnut indulgence is avoidable. However, all things in moderation, including moderation. Treat yourself sometimes!
I have two distinct memories of sweet glazed yeasty fried dough from childhood.
Summer was always a time of running around outside, stealing sweet peas from the vines, and the family road-trip. The parents would pack us into the back of the family sedan to head to such glamorous destinations as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or the back hills of Kentucky. No matter where we were heading, we headed out early. Real early, sometimes. On the occasions when we were headed to points south, we always passed through a particular small town about a half hour into the journey. This was where my sister and I were given breakfast and told to go back to sleep because it was going to be a long drive. You guessed it, the place we always stopped was a small doughnut shop along the highway on the edge of town. My mother left the three of us in the car, and took no requests. She always returned with a mixed bag of fresh fried dough that filled the car with such sweetness, flavoring our entire drive.
Winter was the time for staying closer to home. This was the season, and still is, for family gatherings and the requisite feasts. My grandparents hosted the annual family reunion for their extended families each year in the community hall in our small town. This meant days of preparation of meats, salads, mashes, casseroles, and desserts. On the morning of the party, it was my father’s assigned duty to set up the table and chairs while the women began the final stage of cooking. Before getting started at the hall, we would stop in the little Donut Shoppe down the street for a couple of dozen sweet, crispy doughnut holes for everyone’s breakfast.
So many doughnuts, so little time. There are many mornings powered by the sweet fried dough, so many different types and flavors. I love the simple glazed yeast with equal admiration for it’s filled colleagues and baked cakey associates. Powdered, glazed, filled, stuffed, dipped, sprinkled….Bring them on.
This recipe makes a yeasty, slightly sour dough that supports the sweet glaze well. The dough is very loose, and is designed to be dropped into the oil from a spoon or cookie scoop.
- 1 C all purpose flour
- 1 1/3 C cake flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp yeast
- 2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 C buttermilk
- 1/4 C butter, melted
- 5 C vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 C powdered sugar, sifted
- 3 1/2 Tbsp milk
- 2 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl (glass or ceramic), mix the dry ingredients together.
In a separate container, mix the eggs and milk. Pour into the dry mixture and blend well with a wooden spoon or stiff silicone spatula. When these ingredients are mostly incorporated, pour the melted butter over the dough and continue mixing. Fold the dough over itself several times while working in the butter. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then cover with cling film and a dark towel. Let rest for 2 hours.
When the dough has doubled in size, gently fold the dough over itself a few times in the bowl, and cover for another 45 minutes. The second rise will develop more flavor, and create more gluten for structure when cooked.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the powdered sugar with the vanilla and 3 Tbsp of the milk. Stir together with a fork or small whisk. If the glaze is too thick, slowly add the remainder of milk while stirring. Cover and set aside.
Heat the oil to 350° in a heavy bottomed pan. You will need at least 2″ of oil depth, but 2″ below the lip of the pan. Lightly grease a ratchet-type cookie scoop with butter or oil. Make sure to coat the lip, the pusher bar, and behind the bar. Press the scoop into the dough and press it against the side of the bowl to cut off the excess. Carefully drop the dough directly into the hot oil. Do not drop it in from very high above to avoid splashing the hot oil. Cook six at a time for about 2 minutes. Roll them over in the oil to help them brown evenly. When cooked, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or wire “spider” and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain and cool.
Place a cooling rack on another cookie sheet. One at a time, dip and roll the balls in the glaze. Use a fork to roll them and remove them. Place the glazed ball on the rack and let the excess drip off.
A #70 (1 1/4″) ratchet scoop or disher will produce a 2″ fried ball.
Try a chocolate glaze. If powdered doughnuts are your thing, allow them to cool completely before tossing them with the powdered sugar in a bag or sealed container. I like the occasional cinnamon sugar coating, or mixing cocoa with the powder. Fill with a prepared tart creme or jelly.
Set out a spread of these at your next party. Get creative and have fun. They are doughnuts, it’s not supposed to be serious.