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28 February 2010 @ 04:50 pm
gotta make the doughnuts  

Ted and I got it into our heads while in Alaska that maybe we should make doughnuts sometime, since the doughnuts here aren’t very good. We got a recipe from Ted’s mom, and last week online a discussion of doughnuts came up, so I wanted to make some. I had only ever done so once before, and my impression was that it was a real pain in the ass.

Today’s experiment in making doughnuts confirms that.

We were making cake doughnuts, which have a very, very soft dough. Sticky soft, and difficult to work*. The recipe suggested using a well floured cloth-covered cutting board as the item upon which to roll out the dough. This was a very, very good idea, as it reduced the stickiness by a considerable margin, although still not enough to make it easy to handle. By the end of the process, the dough had absorbed enough more flour to be relatively handle-able, and neither Ted nor I fully grasp why the goddamned recipe doesn’t start with another half cup of flour to begin with. Next time I make doughnuts (which, judging from the time lapse between the first time I tried and today, will be in about 7 years) I’ll use more flour in the first place.

I also didn’t roll the first set thinly enough (note to self: rolling only half the dough is probably how to avoid that problem next time, seven years from now), so the first several doughnuts became Monstrosities From Beyond The Bakery, and absorbed too much grease. The latter was partly a matter of their size and partly a matter of the oil being the wrong temperature. Ted and I have discussed getting a candy thermometer for years, and concluded that if we were going to try doughnuts again we would need one. (I’ve never needed one for *candy*, but I find gauging oil temperatures to be much more difficult.)

Eventually we managed to get the dough to a handle-able consistency and thinness of rolled-outed-ness, and the oil to the right temperature, and the last dozen or so turned out pretty well.

Gotta Make the Doughnuts

*My mom used to make doughnuts once in a while, but I’m afraid my only childhood recollection of doughnuts is Almanzo’s mother being disdainful of the new-fangled doughnuts with holes in them which required the cook to roll them over, instead of them rolling themselves over when they were ready, like her twisted doughnuts did. Both this and the first time I made doughnuts left me wondering how the holy bloody hell you create a doughnut dough which is solid enough to be twisted so it’ll roll over on its own, because it’s just so goddamned gooey. Mom says raised doughnut dough is less gooey, so perhaps Mrs. Wilder was making raised doughnuts. I’ll have to try them next time.

(x-posted from the essential kit)
Current Mood: exanimateexperimental
Laura Anne Gilmansuricattus on February 28th, 2010 04:01 pm (UTC)
I am a doughnut snob, because my grandfather owned a doughnut shop (the old-fashioned kind, as was the norm in those days, with chrome stools and the shameless smells of grease) and I can confirm that yes, unless you have experience and proper equipment, really good "true" doughnuts are a PITA to make.

But mmmm, so good.
mevennenmevennen on February 28th, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
It's like the first pancake...always a disaster.

I love doughnuts but I don't think I'd try to make them.
muntahzmuntahz on February 28th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
I am betting you had mouths all over the area watering.
And yes they are pain to make.
My sister and I were desperate for them when we lived in Saudi and there were loads of failed attempts. Failed delicious attempts.
dancinghorse: Prairie Dogdancinghorse on February 28th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Clearly you need to get someone in the immediate family to open a doughnut shop. Then they can undergo the hassle and you can eat the results.
shadowkindrd on February 28th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, she was making yeast/raised doughnuts instead of cake. My mom used to make them, too, and to this day, the only cake doughnut I can stand are the sour cream ones. Oherwise...gimme the yeast type!
Sunfeet: Hallelujahdreamstrifer on February 28th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
My father owns a bakery, and my eldest brother is the official doughnut fryer. I remember reading that part in the Little House books and cracked up, because my dad also makes raised twisted doughnuts like Almanzo's mother, only my brother does actually have to turn them while frying. He has these two long wooden rods that he uses to turn all the doughnuts, including the new-fangled hole-in-the-middle cake doughnuts (it's a pretty cool process, actually, especially the glazer).

As far as doughnut dough goes, I never went in to work that early so I don't know how gooey it gets! The racks were usually in the proof box by the time I got there.
Pamelajeditigger on February 28th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Those look so delicious! But thank you for confirming what I have long suspected, that homemade donuts are a PITA.

And this is why I have a total love for the little homemade donut place at Pike Place Market in Seattle. Whenever I go there I'm like, "I want satsumas and some apples and some flowers and OH RIGHT GIMME DONUTS."

Maaaaan, now I want one.
Ghost Light: Puppy Food Pornghost_light on February 28th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
Those look wonderfully tasty!
Megabitchmegabitch on February 28th, 2010 07:23 pm (UTC)
I've never understood the American (at least, I'm pretty sure it's American, I could, of course, be wrong) way of making doughnuts with a cake mix/batter. All of the recipes I have in my books here[1] use a yeast dough. I was mildly boggled the first time I looked for a doughnut recipe online and the first few I found listed "yellow cake mix" as the primary ingredient :)

[1] My favourites being a 1963 and a 1970 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book.
Megabitchmegabitch on February 28th, 2010 07:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, I forgot to say, yours still look yummy :)
kitmizkit on February 28th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
There's no universe in which it would ever occur to me to start with a cake mix to make doughnuts...
tamago: blueteapottamago on February 28th, 2010 08:05 pm (UTC)
neither Ted nor I fully grasp why the goddamned recipe doesn’t start with another half cup of flour to begin with.

It might be that the recipe would work just fine as written with the kind of flour available to Ted's mom, probably being somewhat higher in gluten than the flours commonly available in europe. I have a recipe (translated into "american" by an expat) for swedish cinnamon rolls that require a bizarre mix of all purpose and cake flour to get the right consistency (with a long treatise on why this is necessary and the differences between wheat cultivation and the resultant flours in different parts of the world.)

And shipping charges are probably exorbitant, but King Arthur flour sells a mix and special doughnut shaped pans to make baked cake doughnuts, for the next time you get the craving. Ask liralen how they are. I think she's made them.
kitmizkit on February 28th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC)
No, I've made doughnuts in America. It doesn't seem to be the flour, or in fact the specific recipe. Cake doughnut dough is apparently just extremely wet and sticky.
martianmooncrabmartianmooncrab on February 28th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
if the oil is hot enough to burn and scar, its ready to fry donuts in..
Flitterbyflit on March 1st, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
I've made idiot donuts when I was just plain craving them, using biscuit dough to which I added a little sugar. They aren't bad (and very easy except for the stupid deep-frying; I hate deep-frying) but you have to eat them right away or they go flat. For some reason "eat right away" wasn't a problem.