(originally published January 2003, in Co-options, the newsletter of Sevanada Natural Foods Cooperative in Atlanta, GA. http://www.sevananda.coop)
Oh, how those words speak to me! Some of my earliest childhood memories involve doughnuts — getting doughnuts on our way out of town every time we visited my grandparents in South Carolina (we didn’t have a Krispy Kreme in southeast Alabama at the time) and getting the best thing available in my hometown – the lemon-filled doughnuts at Daleville’s Donut Kastle. If Proust had been a Southerner, I’m sure it would have been a Krispy Kreme, hot and light, right out of the glaze, that would have set his memories racing. It’s a good thing that I’m vegan, ‘cause I’d probably be broke and weigh about 300 lbs if I let myself stop in at Krispy Kreme when they have the “hot doughnuts now!” light on. Unfortunately, most doughnuts (including KK) contain eggs and/or milk. I have heard more than one vegan sigh that “doughnuts are the only thing I miss.”
OK, so they’re not healthy — they’re almost entirely sugar and fat, with just enough flour to hold them together– but, cake-style or yeast-raised, doughnuts are darned tasty. They’re great with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate on special occasions. They’re are also surprisingly easy to make at home and are a fun project on cold and rainy or snowy days.**
The main things to remember when making doughnuts (or deep-frying anything for that matter) is to keep the oil at the proper temperature. You will need a deep fryer with a thermostat (some of the fancy new ones even having locking lids that keep your house from smelling like a fast-food outlet) or a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan and a candy/frying thermometer. You can get one of these (handy for making all sorts of goodies) for less than $5 at most larger supermarkets in the kitchen gadgets section. The oil needs to be 375 F to fry most starchy things (pastries, french fries) to a golden crisp without making them greasy. Remember not to add too many doughnuts to the fryer at once. If you do, the temperature of the oil will drop. When the oil is hot enough, it seals the outside of the food and doesn’t allow oil to soak in. If, on the other hand, the oil is too hot, it will smoke and the food will get brown on the outside before it cooks on the inside. Keep a close eye on your thermometer or thermostat.
By the way, did you know why doughnuts have holes in their middles? It’s so that there is more surface area for the oil to touch, making it easier to cook the dough evenly. You can buy a doughnut cutter at most kitchen supply stores, or you can just use a regular cookie cutter, and improvise cutting the hole out with a tiny cookie cutter or a small canape cutter. After my flimsy doughnut cutter broke (about the second time I used it), I improvised cutting the hole with a small bottle cap.
When you pull the doughnuts out of the oil, have a plate lined with paper towels to drain them on. After they have drained, you can roll them in plain or cinnamon granulated sugar, unbleached powdered sugar, or drizzle them in one of the flavored glazes below. Try to let the glazed ones dry for a few minutes before you serve them.
If you want to have warm doughnuts for several days (not recommended, but hey – it’s your waistline!), freeze the fried but unglazed doughnuts in a single sheet, and store them in a freezer bag after they’re frozen. Pull them out as you need them and warm them in a 350 F oven for a few minutes or reheat briefly in the microwave before glazing or sugaring them. They’ll be almost as good as fresh. You can freeze glazed doughnuts as well, but they’re messier to reheat.
The raised doughnut dough needs to be made ahead, but it rises in the refrigerator, making it perfect to prepare the night before. If you’re having overnight company, you can get up just a bit before your guests and surprise them with fresh Krispy Kreme-style doughnuts and coffee. The chocolate doughnut recipe (cake-style – like most Dunkin’ Donuts) just needs to rest in the fridge for a half-hour or so. The beignet recipe can be made very quickly and needs no advance planning – instant gratification! Beignets are particularly good with chicory coffee.
Next time the weather is bleak, get out the deep fryer and make a plateful of sweet, greasy memories.
**Just make sure that if you’re making doughnuts with kids that you supervise very closely. Boiling oil is not a toy – it can cause nasty burns and can catch fire if you aren’t paying attention. If you are careful, though, you and the kids can have a great time.
Recipe By: Lisa T. Bennett (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
Serving Size: 24
Preparation Time: 1 hr to prepare, 3 hrs (or overnight) to rise
2 packages yeast (or 4 teaspoons bulk yeast)
1/2 cup warm water
3/4 cup soy milk
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (like Spectrum), melted
1/3 cup unbleached sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1. If using standard dry yeast, mix yeast with warm water (about 110 F – should feel barely warm to your wrist). If using instant or “Rapid Rise” yeast, mix yeast with the first cup of flour instead of mixing it with the warm water. Otherwise, follow recipe as shown, mixing water with soy milk (water doesn’t have to be warm).
2. Combine soymilk, melted shortening, sugar, and salt.
3. Add 1 cup of flour, beat well.
4. Add enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Mix well.
5. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl; turn to oil top. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or as long as overnight.
6. 1 hour before serving: Remove dough from refrigerator. Punch dough down.
7. On lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/3 inch thick.
8. Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Place on baking sheet and let rise until very light (30-40 minutes).
9. Heat oil to 375 F in saucepan (use candy/deep-frying thermometer) or in electric deep-fryer with thermostat. **Be careful not to overheat oil or it will smoke and can catch fire. Never leave hot oil unattended!!**
10. Fry for 2 minutes or ’til browned, turning once. **Do not fry more than 3 doughnuts at a time or the oil will cool down and the doughnuts will be oily.**
11. Drain doughnuts on paper towels and while warm, roll in granulated sugar or cinnamon-sugar mix, powdered sugar, or drizzle with one of the glazes listed below.
Recipe By: Lisa T. Bennett
Serving Size: 24
Preparation Time: 0:10
2 cups unbleached confectioners or powdered sugar.
3 tablespoons liquid (or more)
1 teaspoon additional flavoring
Use 3 tablespoons of liquid if you want to drizzle glaze on doughnuts, and up to 6 tablespoons if you want to dip doughnuts in a very thin glaze.
Vanilla Glaze: use water for liquid and vanilla extract for flavor.
Lemon Glaze: Use lemon juice for water and grated lemon zest (organic) or lemon extract for flavor.
Orange Glaze: Use orange juice for liquid and grated orange zest (organic) or orange extract for flavor.
Coffee Glaze (good on Chocolate Doughnuts): use strong coffee for liquid and coffee extract for flavor.
Peppermint Glaze (for Chocolate Doughnuts): Use water for liquid and peppermint extract for flavor. Add a pinch of beet powder to color pink if desired.
Notes: If you’re making an entire batch of one flavor doughnuts, you can add flavoring agents to the dough as well. For example, one tablespoon of lemon zest will make lemon doughnuts even more lemony!
Unbelievable Chocolate Doughnuts
Recipe By: adapted from Veggies Unite (www.vegweb.com)
Serving Size: 30
Preparation Time: 1:30
1 1/2 cups unbleached sugar (dehydrated cane juice)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer powder
1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or flavor
1 cup soymilk
1 teaspoon vinegar (white or apple cider)
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Beat the egg replacer, water, and sugar together until creamy.
2. Melt the margarine and chocolate together in a small saucepan over low heat. Beat into the sugar mixture until well combined.
3. Combine the soy milk, vinegar and vanilla. Stir this into the sugar/chocolate mixture.
4. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir this into the liquid mixture until it forms a dough. Chill this for about 1/2 hour to make it easier to handle.
5. Roll 1/2 the dough out onto a lightly floured board to a 1/2″ thickness. Cut out the doughnuts with a 3″ diameter doughnut cutter. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before frying. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
6. Deep fry in hot oil for about 90 seconds each, turning every 15 seconds. Remove from the hot oil and allow them to drain on paper towels. Cool, and ice, glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar as you wish. They are also very good plain!
Variation: if you only want doughnut holes, use a tiny (#40) ice-cream scoop or melon baller to scoop balls of dough directly into the oil. They will puff up, almost doubling in size.
You can keep the dough in the refrigerator for several days and fry fresh doughnuts or “holes” as you like.
Serve these with chicory coffee and I guar-ahn-tee you will feel like you are in N’awlins.
Recipe adapted from Rosemarie Emro’s Bakin’ without Eggs, 1999
Serving Size: 24
Preparation Time: 0:30
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup unbleached sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or flavor
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup soymilk
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup sugar, unbleached
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Prepare oil – 3 1/2 inches deep in heavy saucepan or as directed in deep fat fryer.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, soymilk, lemon juice, and oil. Mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t overmix.
3. Heat oil to 375 F.
4. Drop one teaspoonful of batter at a time into the oil, deep-fry only 3 at a time. Keep checking thermometer.
5. Fry doughnut drops approximately one minute or until they rise to the top, then turn them over and fry the other side until golden brown.
6. Remove with a slotted spoon or wooden chopsticks. Drain excess oil on paper towels.
7. To prepare topping: On a flat platter or plate, mix sugar and cinnamon together. Roll the warm beignets in cinnamon-sugar mix. If possible, serve while warm , but they hold their texture and flavor well at room temperature.