Homemade Doughnuts

Glazed Doughnut

I remember how fun it was to watch my parents making doughnuts. The making of the dough, then cutting the dough into circles. The dough circles would then rise on the counter, under linen towels until puffed up. Gently they would be fried, then set on paper towels to drain. Once cooled, the filling would be piped into them through a pastry bag filled with some wonderful jelly or jam.

I also remember learning to fill them. Squeezing the jelly from the pastry bag into the doughnut was tricky. You wanted to make sure there was enough filling, but not so much that they split open. After a couple of tries,  I realized you could figure it out by the weight of the filled doughnut in your hand.

My parents were both excellent bakers. My father had even been a professional baker at one time. I thought it was normal to have parents who made doughnuts. It was the norm in my family.

My folks only made them for special occasions. Unless my Mom got a taste for homemade jelly doughnuts. Then, my dad would make them for her. She loved jelly doughnuts. More than pretty much anyone else I knew.

You can fill them with any number of jellies, jams and cream fillings. You can also use a doughnut cutter to create a round doughnut and a doughnut hole. These can be glazed or rolled in powdered sugar, instead of being filled.

Light and Fluffy Classic Doughnuts

1 ¼ c. milk

2 ¼ teaspoons (one package) active dry yeast

2 eggs

½ c. butter, melted and cooled (1 stick)

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough

2 quarts oil, for frying, plus more for the bowl.

Heat the milk until it is warm but not hot, about 90 degrees. In a large bowl, combine it with the yeast. Stir lightly, and let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, beat the eggs, butter, sugar and salt into the yeast mixture. Add half of the flour (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons), and mix until combined, then mix in the rest of the flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, about 2 tablespoons at a time, if the dough is too wet. If you’re using an electric mixer, the dough will probably become too thick to beat; when it does, transfer it to a floured surface, and gently knead it until smooth. Grease a large bowl with a little oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, and cover. Let rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and roll it to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out the doughnuts with a doughnut cutter, concentric cookie cutters or a drinking glass and a shot glass (the larger one should be about 3 inches in diameter), flouring the cutters as you go. Reserve the doughnut holes. If you’re making filled doughnuts, don’t cut out the middle. Knead any scraps together, being careful not to overwork, and let rest for a few minutes before repeating the process. Put the doughnuts on two floured baking sheets so that there is plenty of room between each one. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm place until they are slightly puffed up and delicate, about 45 minutes. If your kitchen isn’t warm, heat the oven to 200 at the beginning of this step, then turn off the heat, put the baking sheets in the oven and leave the door ajar. About 15 minutes before the doughnuts are done rising, put the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and heat it to 375. Meanwhile, line cooling racks, baking sheets or plates with paper towels.

Carefully add the doughnuts to the oil, a few at a time. If they’re too delicate to pick up with your fingers (they may be this way only if you rose them in the oven), use a metal spatula to pick them up and slide them into the oil. It’s O.K. if they deflate a bit; they’ll puff back up as they fry. When the bottoms are deep golden, after 45 seconds to a minute, use a slotted spoon to flip; cook until they’re deep golden all over. Doughnut holes cook faster. Transfer the doughnuts to the prepared plates or racks, and repeat with the rest of the dough, adjusting the heat as needed to keep the oil at 375. Glaze or fill as follows, and serve as soon as possible.

To fill doughnuts use a pastry bag fitted with a long tube tip for filling. I have these handy plastic syringes which are easy to use. Insert tube tip into doughnut and squeeze gently until doughnut is filled with jam. Be careful not to overfill or doughnut will split. Once filled doughnuts are topped with a powdered sugar glaze or rolled in powdered sugar.

Apricot Filling

12 oz. dried apricots, chopped up
2 c. water
2 c. sugar, or to taste

Combine apricots with water in saucepan and simmer, covered until apricots are really tender. This will take at least an hour- add more water, if needed. Add sugar to taste and cook until thickened. Puree mixture in a blender.

Strawberry Filling

1 lb. strawberries
1½ c. sugar
½ c. water
3 T. cornstarch

Crush berries and place in saucepan with the sugar. Cook until berries are tender, about 10 minutes. Combine water with cornstarch and add to strawberries. Cook until thickened and bubbly. Cool. , Puree. Makes 2 cups.

Classic Glaze

2 c. powdered sugar

¼ c. milk

1 t. vanilla

Whisk together sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, dip into the glaze. Put on racks to let the glaze harden.

Jelly Doughnuts
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