My partner Jon grew up in a household with his mom whipping up a batch of doughnuts on the first snowy day. I, on the other hand, grew up in the South, occasionally selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts in front of a post office on Saturday mornings as a Boy Scout.
Jon has raved about these doughnuts for as long as I’ve known him. The first snow fall has long past, but liking his tradition better than mine, we decided to make a batch of his mom’s recipe on a recent snowy Saturday morning. After the first attempt, using her recipe and finally eating these sticky wonders at about 2 p.m., I decided that the amount of active time had to be reduced. Not even I would rise at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning to make doughnuts. So I consulted my copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François to find another method that might work for my “new-improved” doughnut dough.
Mind you, this recipe is for a raised doughnut. So here’s what to do to have doughnuts before noon. (Unless, of course, you’re in the camp where doughnuts aren’t just for breakfast anymore – think Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame. He serves his doughnut and doughnut holes with a cappuccino semifreddo for dessert.)
The night before, mix the dough and let it sit in a bowl or container for 2 hours to rise. Place it in the refrigerator. About 2 hours before you’re ready to sink your teeth into what some say is the perfect food, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and proceed with the recipe as written.
Total Time: 3 ½ hours
Active Time: 45 minutes
Makes about 2 dozen doughnuts and doughnut holes
1 cup whole milk (8 ounces)
1 (¼ ounce ) package. active dry yeast (2 ½ teaspoons)
3 ½ cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Canola oil for frying
1 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar, if desired
2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
6 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon pure vanilla sugar
In a small saucepan or in a microwave, heat milk to 100ºF (just warm to the touch as too hot will kill the yeast). Pour into a 3-quart bowl or container with a loose-fitting lid. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
To the milk/yeast mixture, add flour, butter, eggs, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt and stir to combine. Cover with damp cloth or loose-fitting lid and let rise in a warm place for about 2 hours or until doubled in size. At this point, the dough can be covered (not airtight) and refrigerated overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator and let dough come to room temperature (about 1 hour). Remove dough from container and pat or roll out to a ¼- to ½-inch thickness. Using a 2 ½- inch doughnut cutter, cut out as many doughnuts (and holes) as possible and place each on a Silpat-lined baking sheet pan.
Gather the remaining dough, roll out again and continue making doughnuts until all the dough has been cut. Cover the doughnuts and holes with a slightly damp towel and let rise for another hour in a warm place or until 1 time their original size. (Don’t let them raise much, or it will be difficult to remove them from the pan.)
To cook, line a large rimmed baking sheet with a brown paper bag or paper towels. Using a food-safe thermometer to gauge the temperature, heat the oil in a wok or cast-iron Dutch oven to 375ºF. Gently place doughnut rings and holes in the oil and cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until lightly brown.
Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, remove cooked doughnuts and place on the paper-lined baking sheet to drain and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine 1 cup sugar and cinnamon. When doughnuts are cool enough to touch, roll in cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.
If a glazed doughnut is what you desire, mix glaze ingredients in a bowl. Over a bowl and using a spoon, drizzle doughnuts with glaze and thread each on a dowel to dry.
Doughnuts are best served while still warm with ice cold milk or piping hot coffee.
Photography by David Paul Schmit