Not that anyone should ever really need an excuse to make donuts, but as it happens, donuts are apparently a Dutch New Year’s tradition, which makes these timely as well as delicious.
Frying for the first time is daunting, particularly coming off two heavy (and therefore accident-prone) days of holiday cooking in the past month, but with a good thermometer and a healthy dose of patience, it really needn’t deter anyone.
Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations.
For the donuts:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 gallon vegetable oil for frying
For the toppings:
4 oz. 60-70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another with paper towels. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream, then add the butter. Slowly fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture with a rubber spatula. Move the dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat it out until it’s about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut out donuts with a 3 1/4-inch cookie cutter, and then cut out the donut holes with a 1 1/2-inch cutter. Place the finished donuts and holes on the parchment-lined sheet, and continue amassing scraps and cutting out as many donuts as possible (you should get about 10). Be sure to keep the cutters floured; the dough will be sticky. Chill the sheet of cutouts in the fridge while you heat the oil.
Pour enough vegetable oil into a Dutch oven to cover approximately 1 1/2 inches in depth. Over medium-high heat, slowly heat the oil until it’s 365-370° F. Be especially attentive as it approaches that temperature; it will surpass the target range quickly.
Make your preferred toppings while the oil heats. Note: Each topping recipe above makes enough for a full batch of donuts, so if you’re doing some of each, use only a half or a third of the ingredients.
Once the oil has hit its temperature, carefully place the donuts two at a time into the pan. After they’ve browned (1-3 minutes), flip them using a slotted spoon and cook for another minute. Transfer donuts to the paper-towel-lined sheet and repeat until all the dough has been fried. The donut holes can be done in two batches at the end, as they won’t take as long.
Dip the finished donuts into the toppings you’ve made, decorate with sprinkles if you so choose, and serve immediately. Donuts are always best served the day they were made, but good luck keeping these around even that long.
Monica Riese, BA ’09, blogs about baking at The Yeast I Can Do.