Thursday, October 22, 2009

Homemade Donuts

Forgive me, I have been remiss in reporting to you on last weekend's party scene. As mentioned last week, Saturday was the Annual Great Pumpkin Carve and Donut Dunk. The AGPC&DD is my very favorite of the favorite traditions that I have carried on from my childhood.

Begun in 1975 under the Call and Farnes family "regimes" it was simply a two family get-together featuring hot dogs and chili, pumpkin carving and homemade donuts. I always looked forward to it with great excitement though I don't know whether it was the sticky sweet donuts, carving creativity or the very cute boy in the other family that was the big draw.

Since 1998 my very cute "boy" (Dave, of course) and I have been making the AGPC&DD our very own; each year inviting new or more friends, adding pumpkin judging and awards, and, all in all bringing the AGPC&DD to what it is today: an afternoon of chaos and fun! The family so enjoys planning for the AGPC&DD each year. We love it! I don't know if our invitees like it as much as we do but they do keep coming back year after year.

This year I switched my donut recipes. I used a chocolate drop donut recipe from Martha Stewart that didn't turn out to be very popular--it just wasn't chocolatey enough I think. And then I used Alton Brown's Yeast Doughnut recipe--not too sweet, easy to handle, quick to prepare, excellent! I made up several batches ahead of time and stuck them in the refrig to rise overnight. Alton's doughnuts were so easy to make that when Dave started whining that he hadn't gotten any doughnuts at the AGPC&DD (he was too busy chatting with friends) I whipped up a batch that night, let them rise in the refrig overnight and made them for breakfast the next morning. Deee-licious!

You don't have to host a big party to make doughnuts at home. If you just have one or two extra hands to help you out it goes quick and it's so much fun. Try it out and you can start your own Donut Dunk tradition.

Recipe note: Nutmeg is optional. I did not use it in my doughnuts because we were glazing with flavored icings and sprinkles and powdered sugar and cinnamon and sugar and . . . well, you get the picture.

Alton Brown's Yeast Doughnuts

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening, approximately 1/3 cup
  • 2 packages instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 23 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surface
  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer)


Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

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