No, they aren’t pumpkin. Don’t get your panties in a bundle. I, too, have fallen prey to the allure of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino (I had a coupon at Target, yo). But it’s not time yet. It’s still pretty hot and we’re still plucking okra and tomatoes from our garden. We haven’t even gotten to pick apples yet! So as much as I want to rush into fall a.k.a. pumpkin season, we’re going to hold out just a little longer.
Doughnuts are a dessert (breakfast?) item that I have always wanted to make but that honestly scared the pants off of me. Something about chucking dough into extremely hot oil makes me nervous. I intended to make my first attempt months ago. I bought a Chinese skimmer and everything! I thought, I definitely don’t want to be making something as complicated as doughnuts with a newborn baby around!
And yet, here I am. I decided my first doughnut should be non-yeasted because I wasn’t sure if Nolan’s patience would last through the dough rising. (I’ll save my maiden yeasted doughnut voyage for a weekend, when Daddy can cuddle and feed him.) So I looked to two of my favorite sources for unfamiliar recipes: Cook’s Illustrated and Baked. I knew Baked Explorations had a doughnut recipe (“Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts”), but I was surprised that it was so close to Cook’s Illustrated’s version. I took this to mean it must be the buttermilk doughnut gold standard, the holy grail of buttermilk doughnut recipes, and I chose to follow Cook’s because I didn’t have sour cream handy.
The dough is super simple to make and to “roll” (I put quotes around it because I think you could just as easily pat it into the proper thickness with your hands). I don’t have a doughnut cutter (something I hope to remedy immediately), so I improvised and used two biscuit cutters.
A word to the wise doughnutier (that is a noun I just made up, meaning “one who makes doughnuts”): Use lots of flour. Flour the hell out of your work surface, sprinkle some on top of the dough, and flour your rolling pin. Flour the cutter. Lightly flour the spatula you use to transfer the dough rings. Flour your hands. The dough is sticky, and if everything isn’t properly floured up, your dough rings will lose their shape and you’ll end up with some pretty wonky doughnuts. (They taste the same, but let’s just say there were some that didn’t make the final cut for the photo shoot.)
My husband says, “homemade doughnuts are never as good as store bought.” I find that suspect, because 1. his first trip to a real doughnut shop was three months ago, 2. this was my first time making homemade doughnuts, so where else has he had them?, and 3. these are pretty tasty. Regardless, homemade desserts are so much more satisfying to me. They have the taste of… accomplishment. These doughnuts remind me of the state fair and, yes, the farm stand… before they start selling (extremely delicious) pumpkin doughnuts.
- 3½ cups (420 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- ¾ cup (175 mL) buttermilk
- 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 6 cups (1150 grams) vegetable shortening (for frying)
- 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, 1 cup (200 grams) sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Transfer about one-third of the dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or a medium mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, eggs, and egg yolks. Pour the wet ingredients into the stand mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low and add remaining dry ingredients. Mix until just combined, about 30 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and stir once or twice with a rubber spatula to ensure all the ingredients are combined. The dough will be sticky!
- Place vegetable shortening in a large heavy-bottomed stock/soup pot or a large cast-iron dutch oven. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Turn the heat to medium-high and allow the shortening to heat up to 375°F while you roll out your doughnuts.
- Heavily flour a work surface, then turn your dough out onto the surface. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough, then roll to ½-inch thickness with a floured rolling pin. Using a floured doughnut cutter (or two circular biscuit cutters, about 3-inches and 1-inch in diameter), cut out dough rings. Transfer rings and holes to a jelly roll pan/baking sheet. Press the scraps into a disk and repeat until all the dough has been cut. (You can cover the cut doughnuts with plastic wrap and keep them at room temperature for 2 hours before frying, if you want/need.)
- When you're ready to fry, combine remaining 1 cup (200 grams) sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish, like a pie plate.
- Using a spatula, carefully drop dough rings into the hot shortening, four at a time (if your pan is large enough; if not, put fewer in at once). Using a Chinese skimmer, a slotted spoon, or tongs, flip the doughnuts when they rise to the surface (just a few seconds after they hit the oil). Cook for about 1 minute on each side, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined wire rack and let cool for 1 minute, then roll the doughnuts in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on a plate or wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat with the remaining dough rings and holes until all the dough has been fried, allowing the oil to return to 375°F between each batch.