The weekend before Christmas I went home to Maine in order to spend an early holiday with my family. Sunday morning, after the presents had been opened and the Eggnog Milkshakes thoroughly enjoyed, my mom and I decided to make her drop-dead delicious Raised Doughnuts. This kitchen adventure was particularly special because my mom hasn’t made these for us since I was a Sophomore in college. I plead with her to make them around the holidays every year and she usually says absolutely not. But this year she relented.
Now my mom and I have very different kitchen styles. I’m usually a very meticulous, clean-as-you-go and follow the rules kind of girl, while my mom has much more of a kitchen rebel mentality. That morning I stood next to her, my little measuring cup in hand, and watched in horror as she poured all of the doughnut ingredients into her bread machine (not even in the proper liquid, flour, yeast order) and pressed the dough button. When I started pointing out that there were actual directions to the recipe, not to mention a proper bread machine layering technique that we were completely ignoring, she essentially told me that she’d been using bread machines since Noah brought them over on the ark, and to please chill out. So for once in my life I did.
The dough did rise sky high in the bread machine. In fact, it eventually pushed the cover of the machine open and looked a bit like the blob was making a move to takeover our kitchen, but the texture was perfect. We turned the monster out on the counter and got to work. After cutting out the doughnuts and allowing them to rise again, my mom was christened the “Queen of Frying” and I took over the finishing work.
We made a million doughnuts. The recipe claims to only yield 2 dozen finished doughnuts when in reality it’s really more like 4 dozen. My fingertips were sore for days after dipping and glazing literally dozens and dozens of 350º fluffy dough pillows, not to mention all of the mysterious burns my mom and I got on our arms, but it was so worth it. If you’ve never made homemade doughnuts you’re missing out on one of the greatest food moments in your life. They are melt in your mouth, better than chocolate cake, and macaroni and cheese combined good.
In past years we’ve only dipped the doughnuts in sugar, but this year we tried a glaze too. The glaze is definitely better in my opinion, but it’s sort of like comparing Cheesecake to Tiramisu. You really can’t go wrong. After stuffing ourselves silly on both types, my mom packed up the majority of the leftover doughnuts and drove them around to various friends and neighbors before almost 2 feet of snow walled us in for the day. Without a doubt, this was one of my favorite holiday memories of the year.
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Old-Fashioned Cookbook
Yields approximately 4 dozen doughnuts
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups very warm milk (120º to 130º)
1/3 cup shortening
(My note: You’re welcome to do all of the below steps in the first paragraph, or you can be rebels like my mom and I and place all of the ingredients into the bowl of a bread machine and press the “Dough” button. It will rise really high and push up the top of the machine, but it works like a charm. Don’t be scared).
Mix 2 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add milk, shortening and eggs. Beat on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in remaining flour until smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place 50 to 60 minutes or until double. (Dough is ready if indentations remain when touched).
Turn dough onto generously floured surface; roll around lightly to coat with flour. Flatten dough with hands or rolling pin to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Push together scraps and gently knead 2 or 3 times. Flatten dough to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with floured 3-inch doughnut cutter. Cover doughnuts and let rise 30 to 40 minutes or until double.
Heat oil (1 1/2 to 2 inches) in Dutch oven to 350º. Slide doughnuts into hot oil with wide spatula. Fry about 1 minute on each side or until golden brown. Remove carefully from oil (do not prick surfaces); drain on paper towels. Roll or shake in sugar. (My note: Or alternatively you can also dip the tops of the doughnuts in glaze. See recipe below).
White Doughnut Glaze
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4-6 tablespoons milk (depending on your desired consistency)
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl with a fork. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. If the glaze is too thick, stir in a little extra milk.