Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sugar Doughnuts

There is something about a doughnut that is so hard to resist. Sure they may seem innocent enough, just some fried dough and a sprinkling of sugar, but there’s much more to them than that. It’s there in each sinful bite, that voice in the back of your head that says you should be eating something healthy, but you can’t help it because this doughnut is just so darn good.
I should really rename these “All Day Doughnuts” as that’s how long it seemed to take me to make them. I started making them at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning, hoping to enjoy them with a late breakfast, and was only starting to drop them in hot oil around 1:00 p.m. that afternoon. Apparently the temperature in my kitchen was not jiving with the doughnut dough, as it was stubbornly refusing to rise.

This can happen when working with yeasted doughnuts because depending on how warm your ingredients are and the temperature in your kitchen, the dough may take varying times to rise. It's helpful to be patient as you could potentially be stuck with lots of down time as you wait for the doughnuts to rise. That's not such a bad thing however, as all that time spent waiting can be used to do things that are productive. Or that time could be used to catch up on reality TV and old episodes of Chelsea Lately, which is precisely what I used it for. I may not have cleaned the house, or paid the bills, but at least I had doughnuts to show for my time.
Making doughnuts may take a little bit of practice and patience, but they are well worth the effort. Once you get the hang of it, you will be a doughnut making pro. There’s nothing super difficult about the whole process, but as I said before, when you’re working with yeast, anything can happen. That doesn’t mean you should be afraid of it though, it’s really not all that scary. See, look how tiny yeast is, it can’t hurt you, I promise.First up, let's get our dry ingredient mix out of the way. All purpose flour, sugar, salt and yeast get mixed together in a bowl. Go ahead and set that aside, it'll be coming back in a little bit.
Now let's work on the wet ingredients. Dump some milk in to the bowl of a stand mixer.
And then add two eggs which have been lightly beaten.
I should mention that the doughnuts can also be mixed by hand if you don't have a stand mixer. It's a little easier with the mixer, but if you don't have a problem with a bit of an arm workout, mixing by hand will work as well. I have a big problem with arm workouts. That's why my arms are all jiggly. But let's not go there shall we? Alright, so add your flour mix to the egg & milk, and turn the mixer on low, or get your mixing arm going.
You'll mix and mix until a ball of dough starts to form, about 3-4 minutes if using the electric mixer. The dough should look a little something like this:
Alright, now it's time to get serious and add some butter. You'll want it to be slightly softened, but still a little chilly if possible. Sometimes these things just aren't possible though, and if that's the case, don't worry bout it. The doughnuts will forgive you.
The butter gets added a piece at a time while the dough is mixing at low speed. You'll want to make sure the butter gets mixed in really well after each addition. After all the butter is added it will look a little something like this:
It's a little soft and mushy because of all the butter so it should continue to be mixed until it comes together in a more respectable ball. Keep mixing for about 3-4 minutes more, adding additional flour if needed until it works itself in to a smooth and happy dough ball.
Place it in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Now is the point at which the temperature in your house will either cooperate with your doughnut dough, or possibly test your patience. You want the dough to approximately double in size, which can take anywhere from 2-3 hours. The warmer the temperature is, the quicker the dough will rise. My house was pretty chilly, so I let in hang out for a long time, about 3 1/2 hours.
Once doubled in size, turn it out on to a floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
My favorite part is cutting out the doughnuts. You don't have to have a doughnut cutter; mine was a total impulse buy seeing as how I had no plans to make doughnuts when I bought the thing. But any sort of round cutter will do, about 3" is a good size. You will also need a small round cutter to cut out the holes.
Cut out the doughnuts very close together to get the maximum amount of doughnuts possible. I didn't do such a good job of this myself, some of these could have definitely been much closer together.
That's ok though, because I re-rolled the dough so that I could have more doughnuts! For the most part it's good to avoid re-rolling the dough scraps more than once. The dough kind of starts to do funny things after that, and it can result in some odd looking doughnuts.
But funny looking or not they can still taste good, so go ahead and fry up whatever scraps you got if you want to. Once you've got all the doughnuts cut out, place them on a floured cookie sheet, and let them rise for about 45 minutes more.
I know, I know, you're probably thinking "What?? 45 minutes more?" But be patient. These doughnuts are worth it. Just busy yourself with other things, such as getting the oil heated up to fry the doughnuts. I used a medium sized pot with a candy thermometer attached to it. You want the oil to be able to reach a depth of about 2-3", and it's nice if the sides of the pot are a bit higher than that so as to keep the hot oil farther away from you. A large saucepan could work for this also if you want to live a little more dangerously. I just ask you to be careful. Thank You.
You'll want the oil to heat up and stay at a steady 375 degrees. Adding the doughnuts can alter the temperature slightly, so just keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly. When the doughnuts are ready to be fried they should be looking slightly puffy and raised. Alright, I think these babies are ready to be cooked.
A great tool for doughnut making is an Asian strainer:
It's got a nice wide net to take the doughnuts in and out of the oil with ease, and it's helpful in draining all the excess oil off. It's not a necessity though; a slotted spoon will work as well, and one recipe I read recommended using chopsticks, which sounds like a neat idea to me. Great for showing off your chopstick chops if ya got em.
Fry the doughnuts about 30 seconds a side. You want them to be light golden brown. If they get much darker than that they may be a little bit on the well done side. Drain the finished doughnuts on paper towels. When they are just warm enough to handle toss them in some sugar. Half the doughnuts I tossed in a cinnamon-sugar combo, feel free to experiment with any flavors you think would be good.
By the time these All-Day Doughnuts were done, I was feeling a little on the lazy side which is why I went with the sugar topping. But these could be a basis for any sort of glazed, iced, or filled doughnut. The lazy sugar topping though was tasty enough for me.
Mmmmm, especially the little sugary doughnut holes. Fry them up first so you can pop them in your mouth as you finish the rest of the doughnuts. Because the holes don't count when it comes to calories right? Enjoy these delicious treats on the same day they're made, as they tend to get stale quickly. This may require you to share them with others, but trust me, no one will be upset if you do.
Sugar Doughnuts
Adapted from The New Best Recipe

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus additional for rolling)
1 envelope (about 2 ¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
6 tablespoons sugar, plus 1 cup for rolling
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
Vegetable oil or shortening for frying

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, the yeast, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Place the milk and eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until a ball of dough forms.

Add the softened butter, one piece at a time, waiting about 15 seconds after each addition. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes longer, adding flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary, until the dough forms a soft ball.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 2 to 2 ½ hours. Place the dough on a floured surface and roll it out to a thickness of about a ½ inch. Cut the dough using either a doughnut cutter, or a round cutter with a smaller size cutter for the hole in the center. Gather the scraps and reroll if necessary.

Place the doughnut rings and holes on a floured baking sheet. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until slightly puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.

Fit a candy thermometer to the side of a large Dutch oven. Add the oil or shortening until it reaches about a 2-3 inch depth. Heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Place the rings and holes carefully in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds per side for the doughnuts. Drain doughnuts on a paper towel lined baking sheet, or wire rack.

Roll the warm doughnuts in 1 cup sugar (for Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts add 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon to sugar).


  1. Oooh, I've made Pioneer Woman's yeast donuts, but that recipe doesn't have any butter. Perhaps we'll have to do a side-by-side comparison :-).

    See you Saturday!

  2. mmhmm these look perfectly fluffy and delish! hahah i dont dare to try making these though :/

  3. The closest thing I make to yeasted doughnuts are cake doughnuts. They're good, cakey, chewy, but definitely not as spongey and fun like regular doughnuts! :)

  4. Beautiful pics, it's always the worst when things don't rise fast and all you want to do is eat the results :)

  5. yum these look delicious! great pictures :) I've never made donuts before because I'm scared I'll eat them all. I'm trying to avoid that.

  6. @Cheryl: They're easier than you think!

    @Vicky: I've never tried cake doughnuts, but it's on my list!

    @Stephchows: I agree, it can make a person very impatient.

    @Megan: I ate way more than I should have. :)

    Thanks for reading!

  7. yum! i made pumpkin donuts a while back, but they were cake-style and not yeasted, which i've also been meaning to make. they definitely look worth the time!!!

  8. There is nothing better than a freshly made donut - yours look really fantastic.

  9. wow these look fantastic! Following you now from a link in Joy the Baker's site! anne

  10. Your right Pam, there really is nothing like a freshly made one.

    Thanks for checking us out Annie! I'm checking out your blog right now!

  11. whoa, you've got a following now! Nice! You're so, so good at this. I hope you make a career out of it somehow!

    oh yeah, and obviously, yum.

  12. These doughnuts totally look like they were worth all the time and trouble. Lovely photos.

  13. Currently salivating and heading downstairs to find something to simulate a fluffy doughnut...

    please check out my blog!!

    with love and cupcakes,

  14. Those Doughnuts look delicious! I was wondering, as far as rising, my kitchen is always really cold and drafty, so i put any dough to rise in the cool oven with the oven light on. It seems to work really well, but I wonder if that's too warm for the dough?

  15. @Sophia: I've actually turned my oven on, and then shut it off and let the doughnuts rise in there with the door open. It's worked well for me, but I'm not really a yeast expert. :)


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