As much as I love summer, I’ve come to the decision that fall is my favorite season. It goes without saying that I really miss the indescribable beauty of autumn in the northeast, but even here in southern California we do experience a bit of this season. There’s definitely a touch of it in the air already. As soon as the sun starts setting, the air has a bit of a chill to it. I rise early to go swimming and already the pool is cooler than a few weeks ago. Actually, I love it. Autumn means a lot of different things to me and many of them relate to food and cooking. A new crop of vegetables start showing up at the farmers market. I begin thinking about soups and stews and stuffed squashes. Baskets brimming over with apples signal a call for crisps and cobblers and the scent of cinnamon wafting through the kitchen. And there’s one other thing that for some reason makes me think of fall-homemade doughnuts!
To be honest, I haven’t made doughnuts in years. It was sort of a tradition that I started when I lived in Boston. Come October, with porches laden with pumpkins and bittersweet growing roadside and I was off to the kitchen to whip up a batch of doughnuts. I’m not quite sure why I consider making doughnuts a fall event, but I do and even though it’s still August, I had to satisfy my craving! In the past I made cake doughnuts that were baked in the oven. This time I went for a yeast dough that you make the night before and refrigerate until morning. The dough is then rolled, cut, left to rise and then deep fried. I’m not much for frying, but the best advice that I can give is use a thermometer to gauge the heat of your oil. Not hot enough and your product will be greasy, too hot and they’ll burn.
Rich Refrigerator Doughnuts
1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
3-1/4 cups flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying
In a large bowl dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water (95-100 degrees). Add 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar and salt. Beat for 2 minutes with mixer or wooden spoon. Add egg and butter and gradually beat in remaining flour by hand until the batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Turn dough onto well-floured board and roll 1/2″ thick. Cut with doughnut cutter (2″-3″) or round cookie cutter and then cut out centers with a 1″ cutter. Place rounds and centers on a well-floured cookie sheet (this is important, not enough flour and they’ll stick) about 1″ apart. Let rise in a warm spot until slightly puffed, about 2 hours.
Put wire cooling rack over 2 empty baking sheets near the stove. Pour oil in a large pot to a depth of 2 ” and heat to 325-350 degrees. Start by frying the holes in batches of 6-8 and then do 3-4 doughnuts. Fry until golden brown, turning once, about 1 minute on each side. Taste one of the holes, if they’re greasy, the oil isn’t hot enough. (Doughnuts should sink before floating to the top-if they don’t sink, oil is too hot and adjust. If they take much more than a minute per side, oil isn’t hot enough). As doughnuts brown, transfer with slotted spoon to racks. While slightly warm, dip in sugar, or cinnamon sugar. You could also spread with a butter frosting.
Put on a pot of coffee, serve the doughnuts and watch them quickly disappear!
Recipe was from Sunset magazine. Yield: about 14-18 doughnuts, plus holes.