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*waves* Hi! Its been a while! Since I have been a slacker and not been posting much I decided to mark my reemergence with a truly delicious recipe. Donuts!

I don’t usually have to play around with a recipe much to get it to work; I make it once, see what it ends up like and see if I need to make any tweaks and I’m done. This one though, this one? Well it took 4 runs to make sure it was perfect. I will say you’re welcome in advance.

I don’t make donuts often, aversion to deep frying at home, then I saw like eleventybajillion people chatting about them on a Sunday in my Twitter feed. Ok. Maybe it was 4 or 5, but whatever. Amish donuts. If you’ve never had them they are truly a divine thing as far as donuts go. Generally you will find the simple glazed yeast donuts that are beyond yummy, but around this time of year the cider donuts start popping up. These are most definitely a favorite treat. They are a cake donut, not a raised one, with either a cinnamon sugar or cider glaze on them.

Well I had apples and fresh cider and a marked lack of desire to go Amish hunting at random markets so I started googling recipes. It’s really amazing when you start comparing googled recipes just how many different ways there are to make a damn donut. And I most assuredly had an ideal donut in my head. Not too sweet or spiced, apple flavor had to be there, texture had to be perfect – moist without being dense, firm crust that wasn’t crisp but also tender. You know…the perfect cider donut. Oh, and I wanted it to be easy, nothing complex or time consuming. Donut cravings will not wait for complicated recipes.

While rambling I jotted down some generalities from the myriad of recipes I looked at and ended up with a very basic recipe that was also silly easy. I made them. They were WAY too sweet; the texture was off, almost sandy from baking powder; the apple flavor was barely a hint and that was completely overshadowed by the sweet. Fail.

I was not discouraged, I already knew the recipe was too easy. Getting any kind of significant apple flavor was not going to happen using straight cider and I wanted to know apple was there – solution – reduce the apple cider with apple until mush and add that to the dough. The texture was also just wrong so some tweaks to the dry ingredient mix and tried again.

They were good – flavor was lightly spiced fresh apple, texture was better but not perfect, too dense & bready. These ones were much more edible though, so less fail but still not just so.

Another couple adjustments to the dry ingredients in attempt #3 yielded exactly what I was going for flavor & texture. Round #4 was just to confirm that the recipe was right and I didn’t ball something up by awesome accident when doing #3 – it happens.

End result – awesome cider donuts and a recipe that isn’t super easy but well worth the effort, I promise!

Stove-Top Deep Frying

Is dangerous. Is messy. Is necessary when one doesn’t own a countertop fryer and wants to make donuts at home. What you will need ~  4″ deep (or deeper) heavy gauge pan w a lid (preferably), a candy/oil thermometer or a digital one that will read over 400 (not all of them do), frying shortening and a functioning burner.

The very most important part of donut cookery is the frying oil. It has to be good oil & HAS to be at the right temperature through the duration of the fry. This is super easy to do if you have a counter top fryer with a temperature control – set it for 350 and move on, frying in batches that don’t overwhelm the machine. I very much by choice do not own a counter top fryer for my house. I don’t NEED to be able to easily dep fry things at home. I also have no DESIRE to have to clean and maintain a fryer at home. Trust me, they are gross. But sometimes you just have to fry, so when I do I set up a fryer on my stove top.

First the oil – I use vegetable shortening (Crisco) to fry in. As a general rule I abhor shortening and do everything in my power to avoid using it in food…but as a frying oil it is superior to liquid vegetable oils. The oil flavor stays neutral through more frying, the foods come out crispier and the browning is perfect. I strain the cooled oil, while it is still liquid, back into the canister it came in for storage, I can usually use my donut grease 3 or 4 times with no issues. Frying in lard or duck fat is also an option if you have them, I don’t or I probably would…because why not? I will say I have separate oil for sweets & savory when it comes to my frying. I do not want my donuts tasting like chicken. Ew.

Fill the pot with enough shortening to get 2+” of liquid gold and heat over medium heat, insert your thermometer or probe into the grease as it heats to the target temp – 350 – making sure the probe is not in contact with any of the pot or cooking surface, that will distort the temp reading. You will need to play with the heat, turning it up & down as necessary to maintain around 350 when you start actually frying. It takes about 30 minutes to safely and slowly heat the frying oil and you ideally want to use it as soon as it as temp and turn it off immediately when you are done. I assume if you are comfortable enough to want to make donuts from scratch you know how your burners work & can monkey with them as necessary.

Most important factor is to maintain the heat. The grease will naturally cool when food is added to it, requiring more heat to keep it around 350, once the food starts to cook the temp will again start to climb so you’ll want to turn the heat down, you dont want the oil to get over 365 or under 340. Too cool and the oil absorbs into the food making it heavy and greasy, too hot and the outside cooks too quickly while the inside stays gummy and raw. Both not ideal OR delicious donuts.

I feel obligated to say this: FRYING FOOD IS DANGEROUS. No matter the kind of oil you use it is all flammable, respect that and know what to do it disaster happens.

  1. Do not overfill your pot with grease. With donuts the chances of overfilling the pot and causing a spill are unlikely, but it is still best to err on the side of caution and leave at least 3/4″ between the lip of the pot & the actual oil. When in doubt get a bigger pot or add a lot less oil. Oil + flame/heating element = Fire. Fires are bad.
  2. Introducing any kind of wet into the equation will cause potential boil overs, boil overs cause fires = fires are bad. Keep liquid away from hot grease.
  3. Have utensils handy to manipulate your donuts with – tongs, chopsticks & a slotted something to remove the donuts from the grease. Your fingers are not an advisable option.
  4. I said up there that the ideal pot would have a lid, you NEVER want to heat oil covered up, but if it by some chance does happen to catch on fire that is the fastest, generally most effective and always the cleanest method to use to extinguish the fire. A fire that can’t breathe can’t burn. Slam a lid on the pot and you can suffocate a small fire before it gets larger.
  5. If the lid won’t work for whatever reason – a) DO NOT EVER PUT WATER ON A GREASE FIRE. Oil & water never get along, especially when that oil is burning like molten lava. b) Try to suffocate it if you can without burning yourself or spreading the fire.  c) Salt or Milk are two other methods to effectively extinguish a grease fire. Pour both, either or a combo on to a grease fire until the flames are out or suffocatable. If all else fails d) get a fire extinguisher and spray the fire down until it is out.
  6. Do NOT panic. Panicking can make people do silly things that when thought about with any amount of logic make no sense – like a restaurant manager I saw try to put out a HUGE fryer fire with a 5 gallon bucket of water ~ he KNEW better, he just panicked. (Fire started from a thermostat shitting the bed, oil got so hot it combusted. Pretty wild.) Don’t panic, use common sense and most of all respect the fact that frying food isn’t just bad for your waistline, it’s also kind of dangerous and all should be peachy.

It may be needless nudgery that I include the safety part, but I have come across way too many people that sincerely did not know how to put out a grease fire. I don’t even remember where I learned it, but I know it. Far too easy to start one by accident and way too easy to make it worse if dealt with the wrong way. Burning your house down, even if its making delicious donuts, will totally ruin your day. I have no first hand experience with this, but feel pretty confident it is a sucky thing to have happen.

Ok now that I have delivered my kitchen safety PSA lets get to the donuts. First thing first was making the apple mash. I took 1 good sized baking apple, it was bigger than my fist, peeled and small diced it. I put the apple in a small pot with 2 cups of fresh apple cider and let it cook for 45 minutes-ish until it was all mushed up and most of the liquid was gone. Final yield was around 1 cup, a heavy cup, of apple mash. It will look like applesauce, but have no spice, just super concentrated apple flavor and will need to cool to about room temperature before it will be useable.

Why can’t I just sub in applesauce for all this reduction cookery, you ask? Well because it isn’t the same thing and I don’t *think* subbing applesauce will have the same flavor impact. It totally could be close enough for horseshoes & hand grenades. I don’t know for sure because I haven’t tried the substitution; if you do let me know how it works out. Throwing in applesauce would take all the inconvenience out of the recipe but I suspect would greatly decrease the apple flavor in the end donut – a sacrifice some might be willing to make in trade for it being so much easier.

I mixed the dough in my stand mixer, but would be just as easy to do with a hand mixer or by hand. I was mindful of working the dough too much and making it too gluten-y, but its not a mixture as sensitive as pie dough so that makes things easier.

Shapes are totally up to you. I made some traditional round ones with holes in the middle – delicious but kind of big. To make those I used a 3″ round cutter and punched the hole out with a 1″ round cutter. Then of course fried off the holes, too. I then decided I liked the holes better and started making them solid 2″ rounds, kind of like a perfect mini-donut. Making the full sized donuts you should get 12 large & 12 holes – making the 2″ round donuts I got around 32. You can even cut them into squares or any other kind shape you have handy ~ donuts are good no matter what kind of shape they are.

Once they are fried it is time to coat. I make half cider glazed and half cinnamon sugar. The Cider Glaze recipe is included after the donuts – really simple mix of powdered sugar and reduced apple cider – and the cinnamon sugar coating is pretty self explanatory. Make sure to coat them while warm so the glaze or sugar mixture stick; they should be barely cooled enough to touch when you are tossing and coating with either the glaze or the cinnamon sugar mix. I thought I would like the cinnamon sugar ones better, I LOVE that crispy sugary crust, but to my surprise the glazed ones really knocked my socks off – the tang from the reduced cider was perfect.

Apple Cider Donuts yield 12 3″ donuts w holes or 32 2″ donuts

  • 1 large Baking Apple – peeled & small diced
  • 2 cups Fresh Apple Cider

Put the apples & cider in a small pot and reduce over medium heat until they are mash and no obvious liquid is present, about 45 minutes, then cool to room temp.

  • 1/2 cup Butter – softened to room temp
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 4 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

Whisk together the flour, spices, soda, powder & salt in a bowl.

Cream together the butter and sugar until they are lightened up and start to get fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs & yolk one at a time, mixing them in completely between additions. Add the vanilla, buttermilk and apple mash and mix until completely combined.

Mix the dry into the wet just until they come together to make a dough. It will be a sticky dough. Dump out onto a floured counter/surface, sprinkle the top with a bit more flour and knead a few times with your hands, like 6-8 turns, just to bring the dough together. You dont want to add a bunch of flour here or over work the dough; when you are through the dough should still have the tendency to stick to your fingers but be firm enough to work with. Parchment line a tray (I use a flex mat cutting board) and press the dough out into a 1/2″ evenly thick disc and get it into the fridge for about an hour or the freezer for half an hour – this lets the dough rest and the butter firm up making it much easier to work with – a necessary step.

The dough after its chilled.

I freeze it, so while the dough is chilling out in the freezer I get my oil on to heat up over medium flame, reduce the cider for the cider glaze** and get it mixed up, get my cinnamon sugar in a proper tossing vessel & get all my shit together – paper towel lined tray w a slotted spoon for flipping & retrieving and a bakers rack over a sheet tray to let the glazed & sugared donuts drip/drain. I also probably watched some TV & played with the dogs a little bit, too!

Take the dough out when your oil is damn close to 350 & you have all your stuff set up and start cutting out your donuts.

As you cut mash the dough scraps back together, press into a 1/2″ disc & cut some more. As you work the dough the gluten gets stronger and your donuts will get tougher, so work it as little as possible when reforming to cut more. I also usually do not cut anymore after the 3rd reformed disc & pitch out whatever is leftover at that point.

When your oil hits temp add the donuts to it carefully, hot oil will splash and that hurts. I was using a 12″ diameter pot and cooked off 8-10 at a time. They were not over crowded nor in danger of overflowing my pan. They need to cook about 2-3 minutes per side depending on the size donut you are making. When they are golden brown flip them over and let them brown up on the other side for about the same amount of time. Pro Tip – fried foods look darker in the grease than they really are, test one for timing to make sure that the center is cooked and adjust as necessary – do NOT use color as a litmus test until you KNOW that color = cooked through. This is the part where you will need to keep an eye on your oil temp and make any adjustments needed to keep it in the happy zone of 345-355 if you are on a stove top.

Remove the cooked donuts from the grease and drain on the towel lined tray. Get another batch of donuts in the grease, while they cook glaze/sugar toss the cooked ones and get onto the draining rack to cool off some and let the coatings stick on.

the 2″ mini-donuts that I loved the best.

Now eat them. They are best when cooled, honestly, the flavors are all better balanced and the glazes have time to set up totally. I stored them in a plastic container with a lid, that seemed to work beautifully though they weren’t around long enough really for me to say how long they last & there were no sticky issues with the glaze because it dries on the rack before boxing them up.

The recipe was worth the work, and one that I will be making again and again, partly because I liked them and partly because the folks I shared them with did too so these will be making appearances until the cider runs out!

Cider Glaze **

  • 1 cup Fresh Apple Cider, reduced to 1/4 cup over medium heat
  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar

Reduce the cider over medium heat until it is around 1/4 cup. It will get syrupy, this is ok. {Somewhat related: let it go too long and you get a really tart apple cider caramel…which is not useful here at all but yummy, though I have no idea what to do with it as of yet} Mix the reduced cider into the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Put it in a bowl big enough for tossing the donuts in. Mixture should be thick, adjust as you need to with more sugar or cider to get it right.

To glaze the donuts roll them around while still hot in the glaze, remove to a draining rack to let excess drip off. Once cooled I dip the tops again in the glaze because I prefer a thicker glaze coating when the glaze is so delicious.

Let the donuts completely cool, the glaze will harden as they do. I also saw a number of recipes that glazed THEN rolled in cinnamon sugar. I didn’t try it but go nuts!

Aside: you can make the glaze with 1/4 cup unreduced cider, but it just tastes like sweet, the reduced cider adds some nice acidity in my opinion.

Go forth! Make Donuts! Be Happy!!!

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