Saturday, December 26, 2009

%#@! Doughnuts

One of the presents I received yesterday was a vintage McCall’s Magazine bread baking book. Apparently my mother found it in the gift store of the Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Usquepaugh. After days of what feels like constant eating- cookies, chocolates, bits of half eaten gingerbread men lurking in just about every corner of the house- cooking, let alone baking was way off my radar when I got up today. In fact, I went upstairs this morning to find my mother in the kitchen, flour dusted over the counter and her hands gingerly rolling out more gingerbread, her festive holiday cookie cutters standing at attention, ready to be put to work.
Oh god, I thought, she’s really gone off the deep end.
“You’re not serious,” I snapped. “What are you thinking? How can you possibly be baking more? Enough is enough!”
My gut has been hanging over the edges of my pants for days now and I’m grumpy and cranky about it. Horrified by the scene I had stumbled into, I decided to go for a vigorous power walk far away from all gastronomic temptation.
I returned sometime later feeling virtuous, hungry, but admittedly a little bored and lackluster. I made some phone calls- no one answered. I looked around my apartment- glimpsed at the TV but quickly turned it off. Thought about grading papers.... sigh, what to do, what to do?
I picked up the McCall’s bread book and started flipping through it. Yeast breads? No, I don’t have the patience. Biscuits? No. Muffins? Ugh, no. And then I arrived at the Doughnut page. “Perfect doughnuts are tender, light, fragrant,” I read. “We warn you that once you have learned to make them, your family will never permit you to forget- they’ll want you to make them again and again.”
Don’t do it, I told myself. You don’t even really like doughnuts. I looked down and poked my belly with a finger. Definitely chubby.
I looked at the photograph on the opposite page- the beautiful, round, glazed, “light” doughnuts. It would make a good blog post I thought…and there is that little get together later, so it’s not like I would be left with this huge batch of doughnuts to deal with. And it has been so cold outside, and it’s just going to stay cold, and slushy, and get dark by 3:30 this afternoon.
Oh the irony.
So I made them damn it, and they were worth it. The nutmeg in the batter gives them a very subtle, warm flavor and I opted to simply dust them in cinnamon and sugar instead of dealing with all that sugary frosting.
When I made the batter I forgot to add the final ¾ cups of flour and when I took it out of the fridge and put it on the counter to roll out, I noticed it was very wet. Too wet. I added more flour and mixed it all in and it did not seem to negatively affect the dough at all. A sturdy recipe indeed! I love doughnuts!
I also did not have a doughnut cutter so I had to make do with just a circular one for biscuits. At first I thought it would be fine, but when I fried up the first batch and broke one open, it was raw in the middle. My brilliant friend Charlotte was over and announced that this was indeed why people began cutting the middle of doughnuts out, so that they would cook all the way through. Oh Charlotte, why didn't you say so!
I hand rolled out the rest of the dough and twisted them into “free form” doughnuts. But ultimately the whole thing worked out because, with the middle of the doughnut raw, you only eat the cooked bits around the edges. So if you think about it, you’re not really eating a whole doughnut at all, and we all know when you just take little bits here and there to “taste,” it doesn’t count. It’s totally not like eating an entire doughnut at all. No, it’s completely different.

Perfect Doughnuts

3 eggs

1 c. sugar

2 Tbs. soft butter

3 3/4 c. sifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. nutmeg

2/3 c. buttermilk

canola oil for cooking.

In bowl with electric mixer beat eggs, sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Meanwhile, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

At low speed, add buttermilk into egg mixture. Then, gradually mix in the dry ingredients. Dough will be soft.

Refrigerate for one hour.

On well floured surface roll out dough 1/3 inch thick. Cut out doughnuts and continue to re-roll dough until all used.

Heat oil in skillet until 375 degrees. Gently dropped doughnuts in 3-4 at a time. As they rise to top turn over and fry until golden brown (about 3 minutes in all).

Place on paper towel to drain. Then roll in cinnamon and sugar. Enjoy!


  1. these doughnuts are indeeed incredible... light, filling....and, dare I say it,..... even better than Allies'?!

  2. Every Wednesday used to be Doughnut day in the MacLeod house. It was great! Also random bit of trivia: In France, the traditional "o" shaped American doughnut is almost impossible to find. This closest thing are "beignets", essentially fried balls of dough.

  3. Hi Sophie,Just discovered your blog and read it all in sitting. O I LOVE it! Charlotte and I just watched Julie and Julia last week. And now this. You have inspired me yet again. Thanks for your creativity, your humor and your open honesty! Lindsey