Friday, September 9, 2011

Homemade Doughnuts (quick and easy)

Warning  - this recipe is no where near good-for-you! I'm not even gonna try to attempt it by adding flax seed or protein powder or telling you that if you fry them in coconut oil you'll have added health benefits.  Oh no, this recipe is strictly to please my kids, who sometimes, after doing a really good job of eating healthy, just wanna splurge and I just wanna let 'em!

One of my favorite memories of going home to grandma's house in Pella, Iowa is homemade Doughnut Day! Ahhhh!!! There is nothing like a doughnut fresh out of the fryer and dipped in a sugary sweet glaze!  (I wonder if the owners of Krispy Kreme had a grandma like mine...) 

Not only did grandma make the most amazing doughnuts from scratch on D Day but EVERY ONE of my aunts, uncles and cousins who were in town, came over and we made it a party!  We all hung out around the kitchen table while grandma and her daughters worked the assembly line - drop, drain, dunk and distribute.  The excitement that permeated the room seemed to make the air buzz and the chair legs vibrate across the floor.  Lots of loud boisterous laughing, regaling of silly stories from years past, praising, in exuberant exaggeration, grandma and her minions for their never-fail ability to make the MOST amazing doughnuts in the entire UNIVERSE, and playful jockeying for the most doughnuts and their holes.  The memories could not be sweeter, or smell finer, or wrap me in more warmth than was in that kitchen on D Day!

A few years ago, I had grandma give me the recipe.  This was like a sacred act of passing on one's ancient history to the next generation in hopes that future generations would know where they came from!  This sacred act was performed over the phone in the country-folk way of giving directions:
"Head out on the road that takes you to Sue's Aunt's 2nd cousin's house - is she a 2nd cousin or a cousin once removed? - Anyway, turn at the farm with the three legged dog. You'll take the next right at the farm with the barn that blew down in '52.  Once you reach the Walnut tree where we buried Ol' Blue, turn left....."
Hear this - I LOVE this kind of stuff!!! So, when I got grandma's recipe straight from her mouth and not some old cookbook, I knew I had the real thing; a tried and true recipe with little secrets from the one who perfected, not only the ingredients, but the technique as well!!

Sadly, since receiving the recipe 6 years ago, I have made the doughnuts 4 times! Once as a tester batch, immediately after talking with grandma, which turned into a big fail! A second time, shortly after that, as another tester that was a huge success! A third time, shortly after that, for a Halloween Open House, which was an even greater success, and last year on the driveway to pass on a little love to my neighbors!  Let me just say this..... it is VERY time consuming - all that rising and punching, the making of mashed potatoes if you don't already have some made, the scalding of the milk just right so as not to kill the yeast...  Phew! It's a lot of work! Now I understand why Grandma only did this once a year when we pleaded and cajoled, bribed and outright begged! She had to start the night before, in order to have an afternoon of doughnuts for the ones she loved!  What a sweet woman with a servant's heart!!! I just love her!  Thanks, Grandma!!!

And so, here is the good news!  I found a way to make doughnuts that takes a 20 minute jaunt to the store for one thing and 5 minutes of prep once you get home.   Biscuits!!  You know those pre-made, uncooked biscuits that come in those refrigerated containers that you pop open by whacking on the edge of the counter!!!  To this day, they freak me out! I'm never prepared for the pop!! Or maybe, I'm too prepared for the pop so when it happens my tension releases in one terrified squeak!  

Anyway, it's as simple as popping one of those open, cutting out a center hole with a knife or shot glass, DROPping them in the heated oil to cook to a golden brown, pulling them out to DRAIN on a paper towel, DIPping them into the easy already-made glaze, and DISTRIBUTing them to those who are soooo excited to grab one that they are practically crowding you into the hot oil!

Some of my gluten-free friends are wondering at this point if I found gluten-free biscuits for my son. Sadly, no.  However, you could make your own from scratch easily enough - 10 minutes max - faster than a trip to the store!  I may have to try this myself! So, now you're wondering if poor Ian had to sit there and watch us delight ourselves with this most sinful treat.  No, I'm not that heartless!  It was Ian's free day! Three days strict diet, one day free - anything he wants (within mom's reason) and no ill effects! He's fortunate that way!  But let me know if you make your own biscuit dough from gluten-free ingredients and how they turn out! I would try it myself but it will be another 2 years before I break out the fryer again!!  :)

So, here's the recipe:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 TBS water
splash of lemon juice

Add the water a bit at a time to the sugar, along with a little splash of the lemon juice, until you have a glaze thick enough to coat your finger, but thin enough to drip back into the bowl.  Set aside for dipping.

BTW - We created an option... along with the glazed doughnuts, we also made sugared doughnuts.  We tried dipping a few of the doughnuts immediately into crystalized sugar.  (Try adding a bit of cinnamon to the sugar!)  The reviews were very positive but their first love is still the glaze. 

1 container homestyle biscuits
Vegetable oil or coconut oil - enough to go halfway up the doughnut - about 1/4  
      inch over the bottom of a deep pan (to prevent splashes).
OR a deep fryer


Cut a hole in the center of each biscuit with a knife...

...or narrow shot glass.

Set aside.

If heating oil on the stove top, turn the heat to medium high.  If working with a deep fryer, turn the heat to 360.  You know the oil is ready when you dip a tester "hole" in the oil and it sizzles!

Be careful working with the hot oil!!! I wear those plastic gloves for washing dishes and use tongs to work the dough.

Set up your assembly line first before you dunk anything. (I like to set it up outside so I don't have that stinky oil smell that lingers long after the doughnuts have been eaten.)  From left to right....biscuits prepped for DROPping in the oil, the oil, a plate covered with paper towel for DRAINing the oil off the doughnuts, glaze for DIPping, and a serving platter to DISTRIBUTE the doughnuts!

Then get to it!







Delicious, fast and easy!!! See if your kids don't think you're the bomb after this!!

And for those of you who know me well, you are likely appalled that I have posted a recipe that requires deep frying!  AND that I used something so processed and store-bought as pre-made biscuits! Well, it is a bit out of character, I admit, however, I will say that in keeping with my character, I am a traditionalist, I am occasionally practical, and I love to make my kids smile!  So, there is a time when tradition must be followed, when children must be allowed to indulge in their childhood dreams, and when one must be able to indulge those dreams quickly!!

Enjoy!  I think Eli is going in for round two!