At first glance, this might look like a long process, but these are really not very hard to make. A little time, and advanced preparation, and you’ll be enjoying hot, soft, delicious donuts that YOU made. I’ve tried to include as many specific details as possible.
In our family, we have a tradition of making donuts several times throughout the Christmas Season, or when we get a good snow. (which isn’t too often where we live!)
One of our family’s favorite nights of the Christmas season is when we make the first batch of donuts of the season and watch White Christmas together. It’s one of the nights we look the most forward to each year.
The actual cutting, frying, and coating of the donuts is a family-affair, too. I cut them out, daddy fries them, the kids help to coat them.
We’ve been doing the Christmas-donut tradition for years- my husband grew up with this tradition and we carried it over to our own family. But, we used to use canned biscuits for the dough. I have to say, they tasted great, and they were quicker to prepare, but as I replaced our packaged and processed, chemical-laden food choices with more homemade foods made from real ingredients, I knew that our beloved donuts needed to change, too. (see canned biscuit ingredients here)
Well, at first this was not a popular decision- especially with the man of our house. You see, he’s the biggest canned-biscuit-donut-lover in the family- not to mention a big time traditionalist at Christmastime. But, I was determined to find a good replacement that we loved just as much.
Well, it has taken me several recipes and a couple Christmas seasons to find the “right’ recipe. This one is it. We all love it! I really think the mashed potatoes are the key ingredient for the perfect texture. it helps them to be lighter, and not so dense and cakey. Lard is the best frying option. The donuts don’t become oily or greasy inside- but fry up beautifully on the outside. (and though you might think frying in lard is taking your life into your hands- consider that lard is high in monounsaturated fats- like an avocado or olive oil-and rich in vitamin D. READ HERE.- it’s a GREAT article )
Which coating to choose? Well, we do love them all. Most of the time- we do some of all 3 coating options. If we could choose just one, the preparation would be simpler, I must say! 🙂 But, the general consensus with all of us is that the glazed is the winner for the best coating. It just melts in your mouth. Oh, yum! (tastes awesome the next day, too!) I think the powdered sugar coating is #2.
Now- a few disclaimers, just to get them out in the open….
1. Yes, the process is a little messy and little bit of work. When the donuts really get frying and there are several bowls full of coating, and plates for holding the donuts, and several children wanting to ‘help’- yeah it gets a little busy and messy in the kitchen. But you know what- messes can be cleaned up. It’s worth it. Memories are made of these things.
2. I know these aren’t exactly diet food. But, you don’t make donuts because they are good for you. They’re sugary, made with all white flour, fried, etc. Like I said- we don’t make these every other week. Donuts are a special treat for once-in-a-while. And that’s another reason why they are so special.
Here’s how to make them:
- 1 1/2 cups warm mashed potatoes (no added milk, butter, or salt…only potatoes) that’s about 3-4 medium sized potatoes
- 2 tsp. yeast
- 1 cup warm buttermilk
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- Lard for frying (or oil of choice)
- 1 lb. powdered sugar
- 1 T. butter, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- milk- just enough to reach the consistency of a thin icing/glaze
- Powdered Sugar
1. Make the mashed potatoes
Peel the potatoes. Cut into medium-sized chunks. Cover with hot water and Boil for about 15 minutes- until tender. Drain.
Using a mixer, mash the potatoes until fluffy- set aside
2. Make the dough
Warm up the buttermilk in a small saucepan, on the stove. It does not need to be piping hot or boiling, just warmed completely through. It will probably begin to curdle a little bit.
Pour this into a large mixing bowl, and then add the yeast. Stir together to dissolve the yeast.
Measure out 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes and add them to the mixing bowl, along with the sugar, eggs, and melted butter- Mix together.
Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Begin the mixer on a low speed. Add the flour a cup at a time with the mixer still running. Mix together only until all the flour is mixed in. After all the flour is added, you should have a soft dough.
Bring the dough together in the bowl and cover the bowl. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for several hours. The dough will do a slow rise while in the refrigerator.
Have the lard melting and heating in a heavy pot, good for frying- or a cast iron dutch oven. This should be on about medium-high heat. You will need enough melted lard to allow the donuts to float, without touching the bottom- so a few inches.
Take the dough from the refrigerator.
Divide in half. (I usually only use half of a batch at a time, because it makes a lot! Store the rest in the refrigerator to use within a few days. Or- you can freeze the dough)
Cut your half into two pieces to make it easier to work with. Roll out onto a floured surface, to about a 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut with a donut cutter and place in a large pan
4. Fry the donuts!
When the donuts are all cut out (or you pan is full- whichever comes first!) begin to carefully drop each one into the hot lard. Several should fit in the pot at a time- just don’t overcrowd.
*TIP: To test the lard before frying, sprinkle in a drop or two of water to see if it sizzles. If it does, it’s ready. It is does not- give it a little more time.
Allow to fry on one side until it’s golden brown- flip over- approximately 45 seconds. (the doughnut holes might even flip on their own) Fry the other side until it is also golden brown.
*TIP: If the oil is too hot, the doughnuts will get too dark and too quickly, and the inside will be too doughy. The lard should sizzle when the dough is dropped in.
Remove the fried donuts to a plate, lined with a paper towel. (A “spider” strainer is a great tool for this.)
5. Coat the Donuts
- Powdered Sugar: Add to a bowl
- Cinnamon Sugar: For every cup of sugar, 1 generous Tbs. cinnamon. Mix together
- Glaze: Add all ingredients together in a mixer and combine.
As soon as they the donuts have cooled off enough to handle, but still hot, Coat them with the powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar, or dip into the bowl of glaze.
Place these on a separate plate.
TIP* You might want to set your oven on “warm” and place the plate of coated donuts in the oven until you are ready to eat them, so that they will still be warm
The powdered and cinnamon-sugar donuts are really best if eaten right away, or the same day.
But the glazed donuts are just as good- if not better- the next day. They taste delicious the next morning for breakfast!
Adapted from a recipe on Taste of Home