Forgive me if this post is a bit spastic. I’ve had 2 doughnuts and 3 doughnut holes. I’m a little hopped up on sugar! (By a little, I mean I just did an impromptu dance party to burn some of this off.) So if you are looking for impromptu dance parties, this recipe is for you!
This is a pretty standard recipe that you’ll find all over the web, and it is credited to a lot of sources, so I’m not exactly sure who to credit this recipe to. But if I had to take a guess, I would say this is a New England recipe from an apple orchard. Or at least that sounds nice, right?
Before we get started, I want to share some helpful tips for frying, just in case this is a new arena for you. There are a couple of important things to consider. One is the type of oil. You obviously don’t want to use olive oil here…olive scented apple doughnuts? Maybe*…but lets not push it. I use Wesson’s “best blend” for frying. Additionally, you can reuse this oil for frying in the future, and I’ll show you how to store it below. The next big consideration is the temperature. First, you’ll need a candy thermometer to keep the oil temperature tracked throughout the process. Every time you add a piece to fry, the temperature will drop, and it’s dependent on the mass you add. (Simple calorimetry, my dear Watson.) You want to keep the temperature as steady as possible because if it drops too much, the oil will just soak into the doughnut. You can keep the temperature more stable by using a cast iron pan. For frying doughnuts, you’re aiming for your oil to be 365°F.
*I say “maybe” because you should try eating kalamata olives with Blue Moon’s pumpkin ale. What an aaaaamazing accident! But really, no, use veg oil.
Directions: In a small saucepan, reduce the apple cider over medium-low heat to ~1/4 C (~30 minutes). Set aside to cool. While this is going, combine the solids: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and powdered buttermilk. Also bring out the eggs and butter to warm to room temperature.
Once the apple cider is cooled, start making the dough. Cream the butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl. Gradually add the cooled apple cider and the water, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together. You can add some more flour if the dough is still wet. (I think I added an extra ~1/8 C.)
Now it’s time to prepare work surfaces. You’ll need surfaces for (1) spreading the dough, (2) collecting the cut doughnuts, and (3) collecting the fried doughnuts. For the first two, line with a nonstick surface (I use my Silpats now, but parchment is fine). For the third, lay down a lot of paper towels, to collect oil drippings, and a wire rack.
Generously coat one of the nonstick surfaces with flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured sheet and flatten with floured hands until about 1/2 inch thick.
Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Now here is where people get crazy. Who has space in their kitchen for a doughnut cutter? Not me. I always just use a water glass to cut my circular shapes, but a biscuit cutter would work well. And I had a mini circle cutter for cakepop shaping, so I used that to cut the centers. But you can also just use the end of a rolling pin to force a center hole. Of course, you won’t get any doughnut holes that way.
Cut the cold dough with glass and place the round dough on the second lined cookie sheet. Cut the center of the doughnuts and save the center for doughnut holes. Re-flatten the scraps until all of the dough is cut. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. While these are chilling, it’s time to get the oil going.
Use a cast iron pot with tall sides for frying. Add oil to the pot until it’s about 3″ high. In the pot I used, this was about 100 fl oz. Place the candy thermometer in the oil, and put it at an angle so that the oil reaches the “immersion” level. Heat on medium-low until the oil reaches 365°F. Once it gets there, turn down the flame a tad so that it doesn’t overheat or burn. Pull the doughnuts out of the fridge.
I used my skimmer to gently place the doughnuts in the oil. Fry for one minute on one side, then flip and fry for another minute. For doughnut holes, fry for about 1 minute total. Check the temperature to make sure it doesn’t drop too much. You’ll have the adjust the flame constantly to keep 365°F.
Remove the doughnut with a skimmer and transfer to the 3rd surface (a cookie sheet lined with paper towels with a wire rack on top) to drain and cool.
Once they are cooled, you can leave them plain or cover with cinnamon sugar. Enjoy with a cup of coffee or some dark beer! Since these are cake doughnuts, they will not store well. So you’ll want to have a breakfast crew to help defeat the doughnut pile!
To save your oil for your next fry project, pour the oil through a tight sieve back into your oil bottles. Store in a dark, cool place. The oil will take on flavors from your fry, so this oil will be a bit spicy. If you ever want to fry fish, it is NOT worth saving that oil, and you can probably imagine why.