Post # 41 Time to Make the Donuts!

September 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Today’s post was inspired by my friend and fellow home chef Mary P.!  Thanks Mary!

Anyone in my age bracket will remember the old Dunkin Donuts commercial with the middle-aged guy with the mustache getting up while everyone else was asleep and dragging himself to work all the while muttering “Time to make the donuts!”  He worked at Dunkin Donuts and the point of the commercial was that Dunkin Donuts donuts were made fresh daily at each store (at that time.  No longer.)  I used to love the commercial because it involved so many of my favorite things among which were baking and donuts!

I’m Homer Simpson when it comes to donuts.  I could eat them all day long.  I mostly like the old-fashioned plain kind.  I’ll eat nearly any of them, though, whatever is available.  My mom used to like maple frosting on hers.  I like chocolate frosting.  I also like filled donuts.  When I was a kid, I liked jelly donuts, but now I find they’re too sweet for me, and I’m not as big a jelly fan now as when I was seven.  Fifty years changes a lot of things.

Two other baked breakfast items that I like are danish pastries, and fried crullers.  Danish pastries, or Danishes, most people are familiar with.  Raised, flaky dough in crispy layers, it’s generally filled with fruit fillings or sweetened cheese, baked, then glazed.  Served warm or chilled, you’d have to go a long way to find something better.  Until you found fried crullers.  Crullers are basically just a simple fried dough.  The dough is flavored with nutmeg.  It’s raised once, shaped, fried, and served hot or room temp.  Sometimes they come with a sugar glaze, but I don’t care for those too much.  Crullers were brought to America from “the old country”, probably Europe.  Farmers needed a mid-morning snack to tide them over until lunch due to the amount of work they were doing.  It was a heavy, filling, and stick-to-the-ribs kind of thing that was perfect for heavy work.

Donuts are a versatile snack.  There are two main versions.  One is a cake-type, dense, frosted creation.  It’s heavy and long-lasting in the stomach.  It can be baked or fried.  There are machines designed to bake these specifically, with the traditional hole in the center.  The second type is a sweetened raise dough.  Typically with a sugar glaze, this donut can be made without the hole.  Since it’s so light, it can also be filled with almost anything.  Most of the time, it’s filled with jelly of various flavors, but it can also be filled with whipped cream, pastry creams of different flavors, sweetened cream cheese, mousses of different flavors, or nearly anything else the baker wants to put in there.

One of the distinctive aspects of the donut is the hole in the center.  There are many explanations for this hole.  The funniest one I’ve ever heard was that a ship’s cook in the early 1800s made some fried cakes and took some to the captain who was at the helm.  The captain needed both hands to guide the ship’s wheel, so he took the cakes and popped them onto the spokes of the ship’s wheel, thus creating the hole.  The most likely explanation is that the fried dough cakes that were popular in the early 1800s seldom got fried long enough for the centers to cook since the edges would burn if left in the oil too long.  So the bakers cut out a small hole in the center allowing the center to cook at the same rate as the outer edge.

I’ve been sort of half-heartedly scouting around for a good old-fashioned plain donut recipe that makes the plain donuts that I like so much.  Basically, it’s the cruller recipe in a donut.  In that search I found a quick and easy short cut that many may be aware of, and many may not be.  So I include it here.  It’s a decent short cut, but just not the same as my plain donuts.

  • One tube (8 count) refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Hot vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Chocolate frosting (optional)

Add oil to a pan to the depth of 1/2 inch and heat.  Open biscuits.  With your finger, poke a hole in one biscuit then gently stretch the dough creating a circle about three inches across.  Repeat for all biscuits.  When the oil is hot, place donuts in oil one or two at a time, but do not crowd them.  Fry until brown on one side.  Using a fork, flip the donut and continue frying until brown and cooked through.  Drain on paper towels until all donuts are cooked.  Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over donuts.  Alternatively, cool completely and frost with chocolate frosting or another flavor of your choice.


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