Do you like doughnuts? How about donuts? Why are there 2 spellings? Personally, I prefer doughnuts. I don’t have a good reason, but I think the Southern part of my brain likes the extra letters. Donuts is just so short and curt whereas doughnuts you can kind of linger over… just slow down and take your time letting the word roll off your tongue. Well, like I said I don’t have a good reason, but I still prefer doughnuts to donuts.
I have been craving doughnuts for weeks. And not just doughnuts. Homemade doughnuts. Even though I have never made doughnuts before. Even though it has been years (more years than I care to count) since I’ve had a homemade doughnut and that one was made by my mom and was not a raised doughnut but rather a cakey donut hole (still delicious and fried). But frying takes effort. Frying requires time. And so I put it off. And the craving beckoned and then it beseeched. And still I put it off. But that sneaky craving, oh it finally got me… it nudged me toward a packet of yeast and convinced me that frying would be simple… and wavy-hand-gestured me into forgetting that I only had my cast iron skillet and no dutch oven in which to fry.
Well, it worked. I caved. I made doughnuts. They were delicious. I had to call up a friend to remove half of them from the premises lest they all would end up in my belly. But — and this bugs me — it was not an efficient doughnut production. I have a standard 12-inch cast iron skillet and I love it. But it is not meant for deep frying. A thermometer does not reach the oil if it is stood on its end properly, so I had to tilt it and lay it on its side to get the temperature of the oil and so the thermometer became a little bridge under which an occasional doughnut would float and sometimes get stuck. It was not horrible, but it was not fluid and easy. And I like my cooking to be fluid and easy. The right tool for the job would have been a dutch oven which I do have but at some point migrated to Dan’s house and has not returned. So on the doughnut-obsessed day I could have driven to Dan’s to pick it up. But that isn’t how obsessions work… at least not in my world.
But even with all my whining, I do not regret the end results. In fact, the doughnut holes were… well, let’s just say if I had eaten just a few more no one would have ever known I made doughnut holes. Yes, that good. (I also love the process of coating the holes with powdered sugar… putting them in a paper bag and shaking vigorously. What? So I’m easily amused).
For the doughnuts, I used Alton Brown’s yeast doughnut recipe. I don’t have a kitchen scale so this was really the first “not having the right tool” in my doughnut adventure. The recipe Mr. Brown supplies gives the weight of the flour. I could not find a straight conversion from weight to cups (which makes sense since flour can compact and compress and you could measure 2 cups out with differing weights). So I approximated as best I could… I put a big bowl onto my bathroom scale (yes, it looked ridiculous to have a bowl on my bathroom scale. and no, I did not do the measuring in the bathroom). I measured the weight of the bowl by itself and then I scooped flour into the bowl until I got close to 23 ounces. It was fuzzy math for sure. I think I wound up using about 3.5 cups of flour… give or take 1/2 cup. I don’t recommend this method of weighing flour. Maybe its time to invest in a kitchen scale?
The doughnut holes got 2 treatments: the first simply powdered sugar. With only powdered sugar you can really taste the nutmeg in the dough. The 2nd batch of holes were shaken up in cinnamon-sugar. Also very tasty. As for the doughnuts themselves, I used a bit of leftover chocolate ganache for a chocolate glaze (ganache really does go with everything) and made a simple maple glaze. My favorite was the doughnut holes… both kinds. Dan’s favorite was the chocolate glazed. The maple was good too even if it wasn’t as mapley as I’d like.
Doughnuts: see Alton Brown’s recipe here.
Chocolate glaze: any chocolate ganache will do.
Maple glaze (adapted from Food Network Canada’s Maple doughnut glaze)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk
* Whisk together until smooth.