Great Time for Doughnuts

Light, puffy goodness with holes have been eaten since the earliest of times. Some have even been found in petrified form among prehistoric Indian ruins.
A product of pioneer cooking, the first real doughnuts were introduced to America by the Dutch settlers in New England, They were yeast-raised, spherical doughnuts.
Because they were called fried cakes by the early New Englander’s, upstate New Yorkers still refer to doughnuts as fried cakes.
The doughnuts, called oil cakes by the Dutch, became an integral part of prefasting activity. The Pennsylvania Dutch served triangular yeast-raised doughnuts called fastnacht kuche the day before Lent, Fastnacht Day or Shrove Tuesday. The custom developed with the thrifty Dutch women who used up all the butters and fats, which were not allowed during the Lenten season, in the doughnut recipe. The last person down to breakfast in the morning of Fastnacht Day was called a “lazy fastnacht.” and were assigned extra work duties for the day, and only received one large fastnacht kuche to eat.

Types of doughnuts: The basic doughnut can take on round, square, triangular and braided shapes. These shapes are often a part of the doughnut’s name.

Crullers, or twisted doughnuts, are made with more eggs than the usual doughnut recipe, producing a lighter, richer product with a moist texture.

Round or square doughnuts without a hole in the center are actually breads fried in oil.

French doughnuts differ from basic doughnut recipes in the cream puff dough, rather than a yeast dough, is used to form the doughnut rings in the oil.

The proportion of the ingredients to each other has a great effect upon the finished doughnut. The most important variations include the liquid, fat and sugar. Too much of any one of these, particularly the sugar, causes greater fat absorption by the doughnut during the deep-frying process.

Whole eggs, as well as egg yolks, are required in most doughnut recipes. Whole eggs make light, puffy doughnuts, while additional egg yolks contribute extra richness.

While making doughnuts, keep dough soft and pliable by using as little flour as possible during rolling. Avoid over handling the dough at all times to eliminate the possibility of producing a tough product with a compact texture. The dough may be chilled slightly in the refrigerator before rolling to make the cutting easier.

Roll the chilled dough to 1/2-inch thickness and cut with a floured doughnut cutter. Cookie and biscuit cutters can be used to make interesting shapes.

A quick and easy way to make doughnuts is to cut the centers from refrigerated tubes of premade biscuit dough and fry as usual, these are commonly called Chinese doughnuts.

A baking powder dough may be allowed to stand, uncovered, for a few minutes before frying to allow a delicate thin crust to form. This will inhibit the immediate absorption of fat. Doughnuts made with yeast must be allowed to double in size after cutting and before they are fried.

Find White and Chocolate Glazes, Cream and Jelly Filling recipes are at the end of this article.

Baked Plain Cake Doughnuts
The best way to get the doughnut dough into the pan wells is to either pipe it in or use a large baggie. Simply snip a 1/2-inch sized cut out of the bottom corner of the baggie once you have filled it about half-way. Then just squeeze the batter evenly into the forms.
Makes about 10 doughnuts.

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup buttermilk*
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla well. Pour the liquid ingredients in with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Oil the doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray liberally. Fill each doughnut form half full. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until when touched, they doughnut springs back and browned. Remove doughnuts from the oven, remove them from the pan, and allow them to cool on rack. Glaze with icing, or coat with cinnamon-sugar.

*Substituting yogurt for the buttermilk gives these doughnuts great flavor and richness as well.

For Old Fashioned Deep Fried Plain Doughnuts, simply reduce buttermilk to 1/4 cup and use 1 egg.

Fried Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
Makes about 10 doughnuts.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 T. vanilla
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 quart oil, for frying

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla well. Pour the liquid ingredients in with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat to 350-degrees F or use a deep fryer and follow manufacturers instructions. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll or pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick, flouring the surface of the dough as necessary. Dip the cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut the doughnuts and holes. Place them on a floured surface. Gather the scraps of dough together, gently roll or pat into 1/2-inch thickness, and cut out the remaining doughnuts.
Fry the doughnuts by gently dropping them in the oil. Don’t crowd them. Fry for 3 minutes on the first side, until lightly browned, and gently flip over and continue cooking an additional 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Dip in powdered or granulated sugar, white or chocolate glaze.

For Baked Chocolate Doughnuts, add an additional 1/4 cup milk and another egg.

Potato Doughnuts
Makes about 15 doughnuts.

3 eggs
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup mashed potatoes, cooled
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 quart oil for frying
Sugar

Beat eggs with sugar and vanilla until light with an electric mixer. Add potatoes and butter and continue beating until well incorporated. Combine dry ingredients together in a bowl and add, alternately, with milk and potato mixture, beating well after each addition. Chill 3 hours in refrigerator.
Roll out half dough at a time, keeping other half chilled, on a floured work surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut dough with floured 2-inch biscuit cutter; chill cut doughnuts for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil to 350-degrees F in a deep, sturdy pot over medium heat, or use a deep fryer according to manufacturers instructions. Place a couple of doughnuts at a time so as not to diminish the oil temperature. Fry for 3 minutes, gently flip over and cook an additional minute, or until nicely browned all over. Remove to a rack or paper-towel lined platter. Dip doughnuts into sugar if desired.

Baked Orange Doughnuts
Makes 10 doughnuts.

1 1/2 c. sifted flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk or yogurt
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. butter or margarine, melted
1 can drained mandarin oranges, chopped

Topping:

1/2 c. melted butter
1 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter. Pour the liquid ingredients in with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the oranges and fold in well. Oil the doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray liberally.
Snip a 1/2-inch sized cut out of the bottom corner of a large baggie once you have filled it about half-way. Squeeze the batter evenly into the forms, filling about half-way full. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until when touched, they doughnut springs back and browned. Remove doughnuts from the oven, remove them from the pan, and allow them to cool on rack.
Remove when hot and dip tops in melted butter. Then dip into sugar and cinnamon mixture.

To make deep Fried Orange Doughnuts, reduce buttermilk to 1/4 cup and use 1 egg.

For Baked Peanut Butter Doughnuts, simply add 1/2 cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter to Plain Cake Doughnut recipe.

For Baked Apple Pie Doughnuts, add 2 grated apples and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Coat with sugar/cinnamon mix or have some Easy Butterscotch-Caramel Sauce for dipping.

1 pound caramel candies, unwrapped
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup light cream or half-and-half

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Cook, while stirring frequently, until everything is melted and hot, about 10-12 minutes. Remove and enjoy.

Baked Maple Cinnamon Doughnuts
Makes about 10 doughnuts.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl stir yogurt, lemon juice, maple syrup, eggs and melted butter together well. Gently fold everything together until combined. Grease, liberally, the doughnut pan.  Snip a 1/2-inch sized cut out of the bottom corner of a large baggie once you have filled it about half-way. Squeeze the batter evenly into the forms, filling about half-way full. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few moments and then flip over onto a cooling rack while still warm. Use a pastry brush to butter your donuts and then dip each doughnut in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

To make Fried Maple Cinnamon Doughnuts, decrease yogurt to 1/4 cup and use 1 egg.

Baked Snickerdoodle Doughnuts
Makes about 10 doughnuts

2/3 cup warm milk, about 100-degrees F, divided
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg,  beaten
2 1/2 cups flour, plus more for kneading
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and let sit for five minutes.  Add the remaining milk, butter, sugar, egg, flour and nutmeg to the yeast. Mix with the paddle attachment, then switch to the dough hook and continue mixing until dough is smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, adding more flour if dough is sticky or more milk if too dry.
Turn dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until just smooth. Place it in an oiled bowl, cover so that the oiled side is facing up. Cover with cloth or paper towel and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and remove to lightly floured surface.  Roll it out to 1/2-inch thickness.  Using a doughnut cutter, cut out circles, transfer them to parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Loosely cover the donuts with plastic wrap.
Now you can either let them rise once more for 45 minutes or refrigerate them for morning cooking. If you decide to wait, make sure you remove them from the refrigerator an hour before you cook them. If cooking now, after they have risen for a second time, bake in a preheated 350-degree F oven for 8-10 minutes, or until nicely browned.
Serve donuts warm as is or glaze them by immersing the entire doughnut into the glaze and turn over to completely coat. Transfer to a rack placed over a tray and let drip until cooled and hardened.

To deep fry Glazed Doughnuts, Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat to 350-degrees F or use a deep fryer and follow manufacturers instructions.
Fry for 45 seconds on each side. Remove to drain for a minute on a rack before dipping into glaze to coat.

Baked Yeast Risen Chocolate Doughnuts
Add 1 cup cocoa powder with the flour. Melt 2 ounces chocolate chips in microwave for 30 seconds. Remove, stir and whisk in with the milk/yeast mixture before adding the flour.

To make Jelly or Cream Filled Glazed Doughnuts: Follow recipe for Baked Snickerdoodle Doughnuts but use a 4-inch circular cookie cutter, without the center hole cutter. Cook accordingly and cool completely. Make Jelly Filling and, using a chopstick or something similar, poke a hole in the side of the doughnut. Twist around to make an opening to fill the doughnut. Use a pastry bag or cut out a corner of a large baggie to fill with. When filled, dust with powdered sugar.

White Glaze:

3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk

Mix sugar and milk together until smooth.

Chocolate Glaze:

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup half-and-half milk
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients, except sugar, over low heat. Let it heat up until the butter is melted, about 8-10 minutes. Make sure you stir occasionally. Whisk in the powdered sugar, either on low with a hand-held beater or a whisk, and continue to keep warm on the burner while making doughnuts.
Dunk the doughnuts into the glaze and remove from heat when done.

Jelly Filling:

Your favorite jam or jelly whipped smooth. Once the raspberry jam is in the doughnut, gently sift some powdered confectioners sugar over the doughnut.

Cream Filling:

Cream 1/4 cup shortening with 1/4 cup butter or margarine until well blended. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, adding a little at a time. Beat in 1 tablespoon milk and a teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add more milk if needed to make a pipeable.

To make Boston Cream Doughnuts, just fill a glazed doughnut with vanilla pudding and dunk the top into Chocolate Glaze.