Believe me when I say that you will need to lock and deadbolt these doughnuts in the basement after you’ve sampled one. Simply put, hot fried dough swathed in cinnamon sugar is perhaps the epitome of bliss. You will need to exercise an extraordinary amount of restraint (as I did while photographing these gems) because the DOUGHNUT HOLE can be a slippery slope. Once you inhale one you have no idea where the 17 others went — all the while you haven’t even tried a DOUGHNUT. Downward spiral, my friends.
But a woman digresses.
It’s becoming clear to me that this year has been all about firsts — bootcamp workouts, eliminating toxic, catty people from my circle, and a calm I haven’t felt in years. Ever since I purchased the Baked Explorations cookbook, I’d flip past the doughnut recipe because it was never something I considered making.
Doughnuts are a cinch to make. These were richer, smoother and less sugary than the ones in the ubiquitous shops (buttermilk). Making perfect doughnuts relies on room temperature ingredients, hot oil and a non-crowded pan. Once you’ve got the basics in order, it’s nutella-dipping-living, baby!
INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis + Renato Poliafito
For the Doughnuts
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup organic buttermilk
1/4 cup organic sour cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly browned and cooled
Vegetable oil for frying
For the Chocolate Dip (I didn’t try the chocolate)
4 ounces good quality dark chocolate (60-70%), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Sprinkles to decorate (optional)
For the Vanilla Glaze (I didn’t try the vanilla)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla paste or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Sprinkles to decorate (optional)
For the Cinnamon Sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream until combined. Add the melted, cooled butter and whisk again.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. With a rubber spatula, slowly fold the flour into the liquid center until the mixture forms a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and pat it out until it is about 1/2 inch thick.
Use two round cutters (3 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ for large doughnuts; 2 1/2″ and 1″ for smaller doughnuts). Dip the large cutter in flour and press out the rounds. Dip the smaller cutter in the flour and cut out the center of each dough round. Arrange both doughnuts and doughnut holes on the parchment-lined baking sheet, pat the dough scraps back together, and use them to make as many more doughnuts and doughnut holes as possible. Chill the dough while you heat the oil.
Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to make a layer approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is 365 to 370 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, it takes approximately 5-7 minutes. I tested the heat with a doughnut hole. If the oil sizzles around the dough and the dough bobs in the oil, you’re golden.
While you are waiting for the oil to reach temperature, make the assorted toppings.
Chocolate Dip: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium wide-mouthed bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it is just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and wait 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter. Keep the mixture warm.
Vanilla Glaze: In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar, the milk, and the vanilla paste.
Cinnamon Sugar: In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.
Fry the Doughnuts: Once the oil reaches temperature, gently lift the large doughnuts off the baking sheet and place them in the hot oil. Do not crowd the skillet-make no more than 3 doughnuts at a time. Once they have browned on one side (this takes 2-3 minutes), turn them over with tongs or a slotted spoon (don’t overbrown) and continue to cook for another minute or just until browned (they can overcook or burn rather quickly). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel lined baking sheet and continue to fry the rest of the dough until finished. The doughnut holes will cook faster and can be made in two or three batches after the doughnuts are done.
Assemble the Doughnuts: Once you have finished frying, work quickly to dip the doughnuts in the chocolate or vanilla glaze, or the cinnamon sugar. If you like, decorate the chocolate or vanilla doughnuts with sprinkles. Serve immediately.
Baker’s Notes: When you fry doughnuts make sure you maintain the correct oil temperature throughout the process. Generally speaking, doughnuts taste best served immediately after they’ve emerged from the fryer ( and taken a quick dip in sugar or chocolate or vanilla. However if they don’t disappear quickly when served take day old doughnuts and chop them into big coarse crumbs, toast them lightly, and add them to vanilla ice cream as a mix in (if you are making it from scratch) or a topping (if you are serving store bought). Doughnuts also work wonders (very rich wonders) when used as the base of a bread pudding.