Depending on my mood, I like my donuts plain or fancy. When I’m feeling nostalgic, I spell them as “doughnuts.” Whatever the spelling, and whether plain or fancy, I have to have them with coffee. I’ve come to think of donuts and coffee as things that naturally and logically go together. You know, like Antony and Cleopatra. Or Phineas and Ferb.
When we were still living in the city, around the time that the girls were in pre-school, there was a phase when, almost every night, Speedy would go out on his scooter to buy donuts. There was a Dunkin’ Donuts stand a few minutes away and he’d go there, come home with a box of donuts and we’d go donut crazy. Then, Mister Donut came along, we liked Mister Donut donuts better than Dunkin’ Donuts and we shifted brands. Not long after that came Country Style Donuts with its signature apple fritters and we forgot all about Mister Donut.
We were Country Style Donuts loyalists for a long, long time. We dabbled with other brands like Gonuts Donuts (new flavors like pastillas de leche were hard to resist) and Hot Loops for a while but we always went back to Country Style Donuts. When Krispy Kreme came along, my heart didn’t flutter even a bit. By that time, I already knew that, like anything else, a good donut is not the result of massive advertising and marketing. Good donuts are made, not hyped.
So, what makes a good donut? Sam and I decided to find out a couple of weekends ago. I mixed the dough, patiently waited for it to rise, Sam cut the dough into rings then we fried them. By the end of the process, we learned that good donuts are made with a lot of love, patience and fun. And whole mountain of mess.
The first batch of donuts, I simply rolled in a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
The second batch… Well, there was some leftover ganache in the fridge, Sam reheated it until gooey and we started dipping the donuts in the chocolate. Not quite content, Sam took out the sprinkles and started decorating the chocolate-topped donuts with them. She is so creative. Much more so than I am.
Recipe adapted from 17andbaking.com.
Is it donuts or doughnuts? Whatever. These are homemade.
- In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water. Leave until frothy, about 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, put the flour, milk, butter, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until everything starts to come together.
- Form the dough into a ball. It will be rather sticky but don’t be tempted to add more flour or you will have very dense instead of soft and airy donuts. Place in a clean bowl, sprinkle the top with flour, then cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Leave to rise until double. Depending on the room temperature and humidity, this can take anywhere from two to three hours.
- Sprinkle the work surface with flour. Turn out the dough. Dust your rolling pin with flour (unless you have one of those pretty non-stick models) and roll the dough to about half an in thick.
- Using a three-inch round cutter, cut out circles.
- Use a smaller cutter to cut out the holes. If you have a donut-cutter, the process would be simpler. We don’t so we just used the multi-sized steel cutter that we have (and which I keep forgetting to take photos of so I can show you).
- Lift the dough so that only the cut pieces are left on the work surface.
- Sam re-rolled the dough and made donut twists.
- Heat the cooking oil. The ideal temperature is 350F but I don’t have a thermometer for that job (the only ones I have are for meat and to measure the oven temperature). To test if the temperature is correct, drop a piece of dough into the hot oil. The dough will sink to the bottom, if it does not rise after a few seconds, the oil is still not hot enough.
- If the dough browns too fast within seconds from touching the hot oil, the oil is too hot. Lower the heat and wait a few minutes.
- Fry the donuts in batches, two to three at a time, depending on the size of your pan. One minute per side is quite enough. Flip them to brown the other side.
- Scoop out the browned donuts and drain on paper towels.
- Roll them in plain sugar (or add cinnamon and nutmeg to the sugar for more aromatic donuts) or dip one side in ganache for chocolate-topped donuts.