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October 18, 2012

Photo Gallery, Story: Want to make doughnuts from scratch? Courtney Caughey-Stambul shows you how

NEW CASTLE — Yesterday, I prepared doughnuts from scratch for the first time. It was an adventure.

I've always had a mini obsession with doughnuts. In college, I once gave a presentation on the past, present, and future of doughnuts. To this day, some five years later, I still regularly visit the website of one of my sources, the Doughnut Plant.

If you haven't heard of the Doughnut Plant, you need to visit the website as well (or watch a little more Food Network). But for now, I'll fill you in.

The Doughnut Plant is located in New York City (two locations, actually) and is owned by Mark Isreal. Isreal uses his grandfather's doughnut recipe to make the most amazing doughnuts ever. Now, I've never tasted one, but I've looked at many photos and read many reviews that confirm the doughnuts are the most amazing ever.

Isreal started his business in an apartment building basement, where he made his doughnuts throughout the night and then delivered them by bicycle to customers in the morning. That's dedication.

To make my own homemade doughnuts, I followed a how-to video from Jenna Blackwell at About.com. She made the process look so simple, and I'm sure for cooks more experienced than me, it is simple.

For me, not so much.

 

How to Make a Homemade Doughnut

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups buttermilk baking mix (I found that I needed 2 1/2 cups.)
  • Canola oil
  • Flour

 

Preparation:

  1. Mix milk and eggs. This step was easy enough. I used a wire whisk.
  2. Stir in melted butter.
  3. Mix in buttermilk baking mix. (Photo 1) I used Jiffy Baking Mix.
  4. Continue to stir/whisk until mixture thickens into a dough. I stirred and whisked and stirred and the mixture was still runny, so I added an additional 1/2 cup of baking mix.
  5. Heat a frying pan of Canola oil on stove on low heat. The video didn't say low heat and I, of course, cranked the knob up to high heat. That was a mistake. See photo 3. That doughnut was the result of really hot oil. I had to open the windows of my house to clear out the smoke!
  6. Cover a counter surface with flour to knead dough. Knead dough two to three times. (Photo 2) I used a cutting mat that I purchased at Wal-Mart.
  7. Cover rolling pin with flour and roll out dough to about a 1/2 inch thick. Do not make the doughnuts too thick. The inside of the doughnut won't cook thoroughly. I made this mistake also.
  8. Use a new kitchen sink stopper to cut circles out of the dough. The middle of the sink stopper will create the hole in the center. (Photo 4)
  9. Drop the dough in the oil and turn frequently to ensure even cooking. (Photo 5) Do not attempt to flip the doughnut too soon. I did this and the dough fell apart in the oil.
  10. Remove doughnut from the oil once golden-brown and place on a wire rack to cool. Do not mix the hot oil with water. That's an important safety tip.

I'm not sure how many doughnuts this recipe was meant to yield, but I ended up with eight doughnuts. Of those eight, after mistakes and taste-testing, about four survived (Photo 6). They actually tasted pretty good!

I made my own lemon icing for the doughnuts, also from stratch (Photo 7). I will share that recipe next week.

Happy cooking!

 

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