MMM…Donuts…

Ever since my glory days of living in Brooklyn and getting donuts from Dough on the weekly (…erm, daily?), I’ve really wanted to try making donuts myself. I’ve always thought of donuts as something that could be successfully made only by pastry chefs with years of schooling and experience. But when I recently got into making ice cream myself, I thought that perhaps making donuts is not so complicated after all. And I think I am right, for the most part.

[Begin rant…]

In fact, I’m starting to get the impression that making any kind of food is not such a complicated venture as I’d thought, after all. Given the current technological advantages that we all have today, such as the instant access to thousands upon thousands of recipes on almost any given type of food, I can decide first thing in the morning to make some special food and find a couple of great recipes that breaks the whole process down for me, pictures and all. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the end product that I make will be knock-your-socks-off great – becoming great at something requires constant practice, mindfulness, a desire to improve, and time. But at least it is a start, and that’s what so fucking awesome about the times that we live in, I guess. I mean, can you imagine a time when in order to learn about something, you either had to do it entirely alone or go to some specialized school for years where people tell you that you suck at what you’re doing until they finally say you’re ready to graduate?

Anyways, what I’m trying to say through my rambling is that I wanted to make donuts, so I researched it, planned it, and I fucking made them. It really was as simple as that. And you know what, they came out pretty damn great for someone who had never made donuts before because I paid really close attention to what I was doing the whole time. And so can you.

[…end rant.]

Without further adieu, here’s the story of my first donut-making adventure.

Making the donuts

Whenever, I go to a new donut shop, I always get two donuts: Plain Glazed and whatever else strikes my fancy (often this is Chocolate Frosted). I tend to judge a donut shop by the quality of their Plain Glazed donut – if its on point, there’s a good chance the rest of the donuts will be really good as well.

Thus, for my first donut-making experiment, I decided to make my two favorite kinds of donuts: Plain Glazed and Chocolate Frosted. I found two great recipes from New York Times Cooking for both:

Classic Glazed Donuts – New York Times Cooking
Boston Cream Donuts – New York Times Cooking

The recipe basically involves mixing the ingredients (milk, yeast, sugar, butter, eggs, flour, and salt) until a dough is formed, letting the dough rise for a bit, rolling it out and cutting the dough into donut shapes, and deep frying just until golden brown. Donuts really are as simple as that. Even Donald Trump could probably make donuts if he tried, and I’m sure they’d really be the very best and everyone would know it.

Anyway, follow along with the recipe while perusing the photos below, if you’d like…

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Here are all of the ingredients required to make delicious donuts. I’ve got my yeast blooming in warm milk on the bottom right. Top right is my melted and cooled butter. Top left is my sugar and salt. Bottom left is my flour. Don’t forget about the eggs (not pictured here)!
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You’ll want to combine all other ingredients first, and then sloooowly add in the flour. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a clumpy mess that is really hard to mix into a proper dough. You’ll figure it out.
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After you’ve let your dough rise for an hour or so, roll it out and cut into donut shapes. I used a fancy donut cutter, but you can just as easily use a large glass and a shot glass to get this done. The scraps can be rolled out again to make more donuts, and/or rolled into balls to make donut holes.
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Let your donuts rise again on a lightly floured pan for around 45 mins. Once they are about doubled in size, they’re ready for deep fryin’! Also, look at those ugly little donut holes.
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Heating up the frying oil to 375ºF takes a while (mine took ~20 mins). Stick with a medium/medium-high heat, and be patient – you don’t want to crank your stove up to a super high heat and have piping hot oil overflowing all over your kitchen.
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When you place the donuts in the pipin’ hot oil, you want to rooolll them in very carefully so that there’s no oil splashing everywhere – I hear its bad for your skin.
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After about 45-60 seconds or so, flip your donuts with some sort of long tool (I used special 17-inch chopsticks). They should look golden-brown, just like this. After flipping, let them fry for another 30-45 seconds, and you’ll have yourself some tasty donuts.
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The donuts should take 1.5-2 mins overall to cook. Note that larger ones take a little bit longer, and donut holes cook a lot faster. This is generally what they should look like when they’re done – golden brown and a little crispy. Its really helpful to let them cool on a paper towel-lined cooling rack to soak up some of that grease.
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I was really surprised to learn how simple it is to make donut glazes/frostings. You’re basically just whisking together milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla/cocoa powder. It really is as simple as that! I made my plain glaze and chocolate frosting while my donuts were cooling, and it took 5 minutes. Once the donuts cooled a bit, they were ready to be dipped in the glazes. Its really helpful to let them sit on a cooling rack while the glaze hardens on the donuts. Should only take a few mins for the glaze to harden enough to start eating them!

Observations / Improvements for next time

These donuts turned out pritaaay, pritaaay thick, tough, and dense – eating one of the smaller donuts made me feel so full that I could hardly stomach another. Its possible that I overworked, under-hydrated, and/or did not let the dough rise enough the first time. I will pay more attention to these issues more next time.

Next time, I will probably, fry the donuts for a little less time, as I think I slightly overcooked them. Some of the donuts came out a little bit too crispy for my taste (I like really soft, fluffy donuts).

I also plan on experimenting with different glazes in the future. I’m really intrigued by fruit glazes, so I’ll probably do something with strawberries and/or blueberries.

I must say that these donuts came out great for a first timer like myself. I ate as many as I could, as fast as I could. However, I need to invite people over next time I make donuts so that they can eat them all right away, since donuts do not store very well overnight.

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