A few years back, doughnuts took center stage as the culinary world’s fetish of the year, evidenced by the dozens of doughnut specialty shops that popped up through several major cities. I never understood why people went so crazy over them because they are so easy to make at home. If you’re nervous about deep frying, don’t be. Using a deep fry or candy thermometer takes all of the guesswork out of it, as long as you make sure the tip of the thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of the pan. You’ll likely need to tinker with the heat a bit, but be sure to maintain the temperature as best as you can to avoid scorched or greasy doughnuts.
I like cake donuts coated in either powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, and I like to make them the traditional way with freshly ground mace. If you don’t have access to mace, though, you can use a slightly lesser amount of nutmeg in its place.
Adapted from “Baked Explorations” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground mace
1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned until golden, then cooled until it is no longer hot
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
2. In a smaller bowl, stir together the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream. Add the butter and stir to combine.
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber or silicone spatula, fold the ingredients together until you have a sticky dough.
4. Grab a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Dust your countertop or other work surface with flour, then place the dough on the work surface, sprinkle it with flour, and then pat it into a round that is roughly 1/4″ thick. Use two round cutters* (3 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ for larger doughnuts, 2 1/2″ and 1″ for smaller doughnuts) and dip the larger in flour, then press into the dough to form the rounds. Dip the smaller in flour, then cut out the hole in the center of the doughnut. As you are cutting the doughnuts and holes, place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat the dough scraps back together and use them to make as many doughnuts and holes as you can. When you’re almost out of dough and don’t think you have enough to make another full doughnut, use the small cutter to cut just doughnut holes.
5. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator (or, if you are me, in your very cold garage) to let the doughnuts chill while you heat your frying oil.
6. In a deep pot, pour about 5-6″ oil and heat, over medium-high heat, until the temperature reaches 370 degrees on a candy/deep fry thermometer. While the oil is heating, stir together the sugar and cinnamon and place in a shallow dish that is wide enough that you can toss a doughnut in it after it has been fried. Line another baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels and set it on the counter close to the pot of oil.
7. Once the oil has reached 370 degrees, lift a doughnut off of the baking sheet in the fridge and place it in the hot oil. You may be able to do a couple of these at a time, but do not crowd the pot, and keep in mind that the more you add, the more it will lower the temperature of the oil (and you want to take care to keep the oil as close as possible to 370 degrees). Once the doughnuts have browned on one side, use a slotted spoon to flip them and cook for another minute until browned on both sides. To avoid undercooked centers, you want them to be deep brown, but be careful not to burn them- it can happen fairly quickly.
8. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel-lined baking sheet and add the next doughnut(s) to the oil. While they fry, dredge the already fried doughnut through the cinnamon sugar mixture, being sure to cover the entire surface of the doughnut, and then remove to a plate or serving platter. Serve immediately, or within a few hours at the latest.