Sunday, May 16, 2010
We live about a mile from a Krispy Kreme donut place. You know, with the wafting smells and the "HOT NOW" sign in the window and the easy yummy goodness. It's just a little farther down the street from the church we've been attending, which may be why Mr. Devlin started craving some crazy good fried lovelies this morning. But, says I, why buy a dozen when we can have all we can gorge ourselves on at home on the cheap? I know I know, you're wondering why I pass on easy-to-obtain things like donuts. Because I'm on a mission to see just what I can make at home from scratch. I want to know that in case of (another?) major disaster, I can feed this crew and not make it seem like we're all on some terrible reality show that takes the pleasure out of eating. I'm really not trying to give the girls good stories for the their therapists some day--"And my mother! GAWD! That woman made us eat homemade crap all the time just to save some pennies." Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I want to stockpile their little memories with my madness, duh!
But, seriously, I enjoy the challenge. I want to know that I could feed an army with the barest of essentials. I love the feeling of donning an apron and whipping up something tasty and hearing my eldest daughter say things like "You're the best cooker, Mom." That's high praise here....and who doesn't like a little affirmation?
So, home we went and on went the apron. I picked a simple recipe from a 1950's vintage cookbook that supplied what I deemed the major requirements for a good donut--namely, a yeast recipe. Cake donuts are fine and can even be healthier since you can, in theory bake them (in specially made donut pans). But I love me a hot-from-the-fryer yeast donut, just like I used to pig out on in the wee hours of the morning at some of the university bakeries I've worked in.
I'll give you the recipe I used. I suggest you use a deep fryer but in a pinch, I will say you can do this with a big pot of oil on the stovetop. I have small children so that scares the hell out of me, but if you're jonesing to try this and don't have a fryer, go on with your bad self.
1 1/2 cup milk (scald this in a saucepan--DON'T BOIL IT! just get it hot enough that steam comes up off it)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter or shortening (I used shortening here because I think it's more authentic)
2 pkg active yeast
1/4 cup warm water
4-6 cups of flour (some of that is for dusting pans and whatnot)
In a mixing bowl (or large bowl, if you are mixing by hand), put the sugar, salt, yeast, shortening (or butter) and warm water. Let it sit a couple of minutes-you should see a bit of foam forming on the top of the water if your yeast is alive. If you don't see any of this occurring, your yeast is dead and you're in need a new yeast (and cussing all to hell right now, I'm sure).
To this mixture, add two cups of flour and then slowly add the hot milk while stirring (the flour is buffering the heat from killing your yeast, which dies at 140 degrees). Add in another two cups to form a dough. IF your dough still seems too sticky to knead, add another cup.
You can either knead the dough in the mixer for about 5 minutes until you have a nice soft, elastic dough or turn it all out on a flat surface with a little flour and knead it by hand (depending on how pissed you are at someone, it's a nice stress reliever).
Spray a large bowl with pan spray and toss your dough in, spray the top of the dough as well to keep it from drying out.
Cover with a moist towel and place in a warm spot--in a sunbeam, on top of a running dryer, or on top of your stove that's been turned on to 250. Let the dough double (about an hour).
Meanwhile, prepare two or three cookie sheets by dusting them with some flour. Heat your oil to 375 and grab a circle cutter or two. I don't have a donut cutter (shock gasp) so I just used graduating circle cutters....which also meant I could make some jelly-filled donuts too).
When the dough is doubled, plop it out on the counter and roll it out to about a half-inch thickness and proceed to cut out your donuts. Try to get the circles as close together as you can because donuts don't really do well on the second cut (I like to use the scraps for fried cinnamon rolls--omg, they're wonderful! or I cut them together with some pie filling for fruit fritters). ANYWAYS, cut out the donuts and place them on the dusted cookies sheets to rise a little bit. You don't actually want them to rise fully a second time or you won't be able to handle them without everything collapsing. You actually are going for a "half-rise."
The scrapes from the first cut can now be gathered up and rolled out for the second cut-in this case, cinnamon rolls. Roll into a rectangle, spritz with a little water to moisten the surface and then cover with cinnamon sugar. Roll up tightly and cut at inch-intervals. Place on dusted cookie sheet to raise.
Carefully add two or three donuts to the hot oil at a time. The oil will bubble like peroxide on a dirty cut until that side is cooked, then flip over to cook the other. When the bubbling slows, the donut is cooked. The jelly-filled (which shouldn't have jelly in them at this point....I feel some how like I should mention that just in case) take a little longer to cook so they will be a little darker in color probably (now you know why some bright guy punch a hole in the dough in the first place --SPEED).
Drain the hot donuts on a cooling rack (NOT PAPER TOWELS...unless you like soggy donuts or really want to ingest copious amounts of vegetable oil mmmmm gag).
Hot donuts can be rolled in cinnamon sugar. Cooled donuts can be rolled in confectioners sugar. Mix confectioner's sugar with water to glaze donuts (then promptly shove into your mouth to make sure they're properly done--you know, quality control and whatever).
And jelly-filled? Well, I just *happened* to have a jar of strawberry lemon marmalade laying around so you know where that went....aw yeah, that's how we do.
In the end, it took about two hours from start to finish and we ended up having donuts for lunch. I didn't decorate or glaze all of them--some I just cooled completely and put in an airtight container in the freezer for later. I can reheat them on a sheet pan in the oven and they'll be like new. But today we ate like damn hell ass kings (thats from the Simpson's, Mom, don't get upset).