Monday, October 18, 2010

What? Homemade doughnuts?

That’s right, I made homemade cake-style doughnuts the other day. They were sooooo super delicious and a lot easier to make than you’d think.

Cake Doughnuts
2 Tbs white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar)
½ cup milk
2 Tbs shortening or margarine
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
¾ tsp vanilla
2 c flour
½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Oil for frying (I use vegetable oil)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1Tbs 1 tsp cinnamon
Mix together

1. Heat the oil, around 4 inches deep, in a large deep skillet, (or large sauce pot) to 375*.  Be careful, if there is too much oil for your pot, it will overflow and may cause a fire! DON'T BURN THE DOUGHNUTS...or your house!!!!
2. While the oil is heating up, add the vinegar to the milk and let stand while you prep the rest of  the ingredients. This will thicken slightly because the acid from the vinegar is mixing with the protein in the milk.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar.
4. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
5. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
6. Add ½ the milk to the sugar and mix until combined; then add ½ the flour and mix until just combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and then repeat with the rest of the milk then flour.
7. Let stand for about 7 minutes.
8. To make doughnut holes (this is what I do), use a mini ice cream scoop (or a tablespoon of some sort) to shape the dough. Scoop the dough and drop it right into the oil, frying in batches so the doughnuts aren't overcrowded in the oil. If you’d like a true doughnut shape, roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/3 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts using a donut cutter. If you are using this method, let rest for 7 minutes after forming the doughnuts
9. Drop the dough into the oil being careful not to splash the oil. Fry until the doughnuts are golden on the bottom then turn them over in the oil.
10. Drain on paper towels.
11. Roll in the sugar cinnamon while they are still warm, and serve immediately.

These doughnut bites were the best Sunday morning snack one could ever ask for. They were delectably crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-and-fluffy-on-the-inside, tasty, and not at all greasy. Also, they are quick and easy to make, stay crunchy for a while, and you probably have all of the ingredients in your cupboard!! Get to frying my friends!!!

A few alternatives, ideas and suggestions…
I like to use my mini ice cream scoop to make these doughnut holes. Because they are on the smaller size, they fry up pretty quickly. The doughnut will turn golden brown and will only need to be flipped over once. I like to make a tester one to get an idea of how quickly they cook.

Don’t have a doughnut cutter hanging around? You could use circle cookie cutters, a can, a glass…be creative!

For the best results, use a thermometer to get your oil to the right temperature. If you don’t have a thermometer and are unsure about the temperature of your oil, drop a test piece of dough into the oil to see what happens. When the oil is ready, it will get tiny, but fast, bubbles all around it and, the dough will gently turn a golden brown. If it browns too quickly, your oil is too hot and needs to be turned down a bit. If the oil is not hot enough, the dough will sink and become saturated with oil….this leads to the lead ball…yuck!

Your topping choices are endless. I used the sugar cinnamon mixture because it is what I had on hand. You could dust them with powdered sugar, make a glaze with powdered sugar and just enough milk to make a glaze (and a bit of vanilla too), combine equal parts cocoa powder and sugar and roll doughnuts in it, make a chocolate glaze with equal parts powdered sugar and cocoa and add just enough milk to make a glaze…use you imagination to create the doughnut of your dreams…

We have the kids over each year for Christmas breakfast, and this is one thing that I am definitely going to add to the menu this year! Instead of using cinnamon in the doughnut, I think I am going to use pumpkin spice…that sounds so yuuuUUUuuuummmyy!! Can’t wait!

Now for a quick science lesson…
As you see, this recipe calls for shortening and not butter. Under many circumstances I would change this out for butter, but that isn’t really a good idea when it comes to making doughnuts and I’ll tell you why. Butter has a melting point of around 90-95* where shortening has a melting point of around 117-119*. This fact is important here. Picture the shortening forming tiny beads when blended into the ingredients. When these “beads” of shortening melt, they create steam which in-turn creates a pocket. When this pocket is formed, the dough around the pocket needs to be set to prevent the pocket from collapsing. Because shortening has a higher melting point, the pocket of dough will already be set by the time the shortening has melted. If we were to use butter in this recipe, the butter would melt too quickly, potentially not giving the dough enough time to set around it; and the pocket where the butter “bead” was would collapse creating a flatter ball of dough. Some have tried the recipe with butter and had good results, but it’s not worth the sacrifice to me!!

Why is vinegar added to the milk? Vinegar is an acid and when it is mixed with the baking soda in the dough, bubbles of carbon dioxide are released throughout the dough creating a light and airy product.

Now go play with your dough!!!!