Check out these babies. A classic example of the snacks our parents’ parents used to make when hungry kids arrived home from school, or came indoors after farm work or a good play outside. A simple dough made of yeast, flour, milk and eggs creates piles of warm, pillowy goodness you can douse in cinnamon-sugar or dip in a glaze. Think of these as blank doughnut canvases you can customize however you like. Any way you make them, doughnuts are a perfect pairing with tea or coffee, great for kids’ parties, or really any time you want to make something a little out of the ordinary – they are the new cupcake, you know. I’m practicing now to be the grandma who makes doughnuts…
The dough will be sticky – resist the urge to add more flour. You want it a bit tacky. Try adding vanilla, orange or lemon zest or cinnamon to the soft dough, or experimenting with various frostings and glazes on your finished doughnuts.
I like using canola oil to cook doughnuts – its lightness, high smoke point and neutral flavor makes it ideal for fried foods. Ensure it’s hot enough without smoking – the doughnuts should cook through all the way without turning too dark on the outside. If they take too long, they’ll absorb more oil and become greasy and heavy. If you have a thermometer, aim for around 350F.
Classic Yeast Raised Doughnuts
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter or shortening, softened
canola oil, for cooking
sugar spiked with cinnamon, for rolling (optional)
In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and water and set aside for 5 minutes. (If it doesn’t get foamy, toss it out!) In a large bowl, stir together the milk, sugar and eggs; add the yeast mixture and stir until well combined. Add 2 cups of the flour and the salt and beat until well blended. Add the butter and beat until incorporated.
Add the rest of the flour gradually, stirring (or using the dough hook on a stand mixer) until the dough comes together and isn’t too sticky. Continue to beat with the dough hook or turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Cover and let sit for an hour, until doubled in size.
Roll or pat the dough out and cut into doughnuts or rounds (if you don’t have a doughnut cutter, use a round cutter or glass rim, then another smaller round cutter for the middle). Cover and let sit for a half hour to an hour, until they puff up again. (They’ll rise even more as they cook.)
Heat a couple inches of oil in a heavy pot until hot but not smoking. Gently cook the doughnuts in batches, without crowding, turning as needed until golden on both (or all) sides. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm or toss in a shallow bowl of cinnamon sugar to coat. Makes about 2 dozen.