Sunday, November 13, 2011

Donuts. Is there anything they can't do?

It's widely known that Los Angeles has more donut shops per capita than anywhere else in the country*.  There's practically one on every corner.  In fact, there is one on our corner.

So this clearly qualifies as superfluous, right?

I've never made donuts before.  Why would I, when I can get a delicious glazed old fashioned for 75 cents anytime** without having to break out a vat of boiling oil?

Here's why.  When you make them at home, your son will take one bite and say, "I think this is the happiest moment of my life right here!  Mom, you are the BEST!"

The donuts themselves are very, very, tasty, especially fresh from the fryer.  The texture and flavor are reminiscent of a top-of-the line buttermilk bar, or those wonderful little sugary nuggets from The Buttermilk Truck.  I love those little nuggets, and I really loved these.

Homemade Buttermilk Sour-Doughnuts
The donut recipe is adapted from Notes from the High Country, and the glaze is from Alton Brown.  This made a baker's dozen, plus donut holes!

For the donuts:
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
generous grating of nutmeg
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. sourdough starter
1/4 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vegetable oil (+ additional oil for frying)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and nutmeg.   In a larger bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed,  beat the egg,  then beat in the sugar. Add the starter, buttermilk and 2 tsp. of oil. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix gently with a wooden spoon to form a moderately stiff dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, then knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and forms a round ball.  Don't overwork the dough, or your donuts will be tough.  Roll out to 3/8" thickness. Cut with doughnut cutter.  Place donuts and holes on a floured cookie sheet, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for about 30-45 minutes.

To fry the donuts, you'll need a large, deep kettle or pot, a slotted spoon, one platter or baking sheet covered with paper towels, another sheet with a baking rack over it to catch the glaze, and a thermometer to measure the oil temperature.

Pour oil to a depth of about 2 inches into a large kettle, and heat to 370F.  Drop donuts in, a few at a time.  Fry for about 60 seconds on each side, until golden brown, flipping with a slotted spoon once.

Remove to paper towel-covered platter, then dip into glaze, or shake in a bag of powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.  Cool for a tiny bit more, then devour!   

For the Vanilla Glaze:
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Combine milk and vanilla in a medium microwave-proof bowl, and zap for a minute or so until warm.   Sift confectioners' sugar into milk mixture. Whisk slowly, until well combined.   Place that bowl over a slightly larger bowl of warm water.  Keeping it warm will maintain the right glaze consistency for dipping the donuts.

Using tongs, dip hot donuts into the glaze, one at a time, and set on the prepared draining rack.  After a minute, dip once more.  Extra glaze is a good thing!

Click to Print this recipe!

Credit for many of the photos in this post to my son, who eagerly volunteered to be my assistant on the project once he heard the word, "donuts".  Truly, these things have magical powers.

* The vast majority of which are owned by Cambodian refugees, escaping genocide and helping each other start businesses here.  A remarkable LA story, as well as a benefit to the donut loving population of Southern California.  The statistics, admittedly old now, say that LA has one donut store for every 7,000 people, compared to one store per 30,000 nationally.
** Except Sundays.  They're inexplicably and inconveniently closed on Sundays.

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