One of my favorite memories from childhood was getting to pick out a donut for breakfast once every other week or so – we’d be grocery shopping, and it was always a huge treat. I would almost always pick the regular cake donut with chocolate frosting and sugar sprinkles out the wazoo – because as a kid you can NEVER have enough sugar – and every time it was amazing. (Except for the time my cat ate through the wax paper bag and subsequently ate most of the donut… what a disappointing morning).
We made mini-donuts one time in my third quarter at Kendall – I made mine tossed in a combination of rosemary/salt/pepper/sugar/cayenne, and they were pretty good. This time I decided to go for classic, with a supposedly yummy donut and plain sweet glaze. I also decided to make a few with a cinnamon sugar coating, and then add a little chocolate to the mix as well. Unfortunately, I only had bittersweet dark chocolate in my kitchen, which didn’t work out too well for an overall coating – but was perfect for a garnish to the glazed donuts!
These were surprisingly easy to make from start to finish. I definitely recommend having a nice big stock pot for frying, so you don’t get splatter everywhere, and along with that having a deep-fry thermometer so you don’t get hurt by splatter. I love the thermometer I have from school that plugs into a base and then just has a 2 ft long cord with the thermometer at the end so I can just toss it in the pot. Very very convenient.
When you are letting the dough ferment, be sure to pay attention – I decided to just lay down for an hour-ish, and when I check on my dough (in a bowl on top of the fridge), it was almost exploding out of the bowl. But (unlike some dough) this was very easy to work with – I was able to roll it out and cut it without a problem.
A few recommendations for when making yeast donuts
- After cutting your donuts, place them on a sheet of foil or wax paper coated in cooking spray – trust me. It makes it SO MUCH EASIER to deal with later.
- Use your leftover dough. If you see in the picture above, I have 20 donuts cut there and the recipe said I would only get 18. After cutting these, I kneaded the dough again, let it sit for a few minutes, then rolled it out and cut more. Don’t waste the materials! (and who would said no to more donuts??)
- When you get to the frying phase, have everything (and I mean everything) prepared to go before you put any donuts in to fry. Have parchment underneath some racks for your donuts to dry, have your glaze/cinnamon mix on hand so you can get the donuts in while still warm, etc.
- When you start frying your donuts, the easiest way I found to pick the donuts up was to lift the foil and let the donut drop into my hand, then place it in the oil carefully. You don’t want to lift the donuts up with a spatula because too much movement will make them collapse after they’ve done all that work to rise again. Use as light of a touch as you can!
When I did the chocolate stripes on the donuts, I just made a simple ganache (equal parts heated cream and chocolate), put it in a piping bag, cut off the tip and quickly drizzled it over the donuts using a back and forth motion. Very very simple!
These donuts were super yummy, although since I served them the day after I made them, the glaze had gotten a little tacky… but that sure didn’t stop anyone from eating them! I personally like the cinnamon sugar best. Next time I have a brunch… these are definitely on the menu!
Fried Yeast Donuts
- 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 quarts vegetable oil for frying
- Put the yeast, warm water, and a small amount of the sugar (maybe 1 Tbsp) in your mixing bowl and stir slightly just to combine. Let sit until the yeast starts to get foamy (around 3-5 minutes). IMPORTANT: Do not have too warm of water or you will kill the yeast.
- Add the milk, remaining sugar, salt, eggs, and shortening and mix just to start to combine. Add in two cups of the flour, and mix with a paddle attachment until a dough starts to form.
- Add in remaining flour in 1/2 cup increments, continuing to mix with paddle until dough is too thick – then switch to a dough hook. I mixed my dough on medium high speed this whole time to help develop the gluten in the flour and get the dough nice and elastic.
- Put dough into a greased bowl and cover to the surface with plastic wrap. Place in a warm location and let dough double in size.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to approximately 1/2″ thick. Using 3″ and 1″ round cutters, cut donut shapes out of your dough and place on a piece of foil sprayed with cooking spray. Take remaining dough and knead together slightly, just to combine. Roll out again and cut more donuts if possible. Cover donuts with plastic wrap and let double in size.
- In the meantime, put your oil in a large pot and heat to 350 degrees. (the original recipe only calls for 1 qt of oil, but when I poured that in my pot, there was NO way that would last for all my donuts, not to mention it was only about 1 – 1 1/2″ deep in the pot).
- Place donuts carefully (I did 4 at a time) into the oil, allowing to fry for approximately 2 minutes per side (watch carefully so they don’t get too dark). Remove from oil with a large slotted spoon, then put on a rack to cool.
- Once donuts are cool enough to touch (but still warm), dip in glaze. If you are making cinnamon sugar donuts, combine 2 cups sugar + 4 Tbsp cinnamon. Dip donuts into melted butter just to coat, then toss in cinnamon sugar mixture.
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 tablespoons hot water or as needed
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Once butter is melted, add in vanilla and confectioner’s sugar, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.
- Add in hot water as needed just to thin glaze (I ended up using only 2 Tbsp).
- If the glaze starts to set, stir with a spatula first. If it is still too thick, put over heat again for a few seconds until it regains a liquid texture.