Old-fashioned donuts are my very, very favorite kinds of donuts. I love the crackly, crunchy sweet exterior, tinged with the oil from the fryer. There are often glazes for these kinds of donuts, but I opted to omit it, because I wanted to keep the crevices pure and not-soggy. I like these plain, but will admit that perhaps they would benefit from a touch more sweetness, hence the powdered sugar option at the end of the recipe. But really, they are pretty yummy as-is. (And be sure to be the boss of the oil temperature!)
This recipe yields about half a dozen donuts and can easily be doubled (or quadrupled). I tend to create very small batches of baked goods because there are only two people (and a dog) in my household. We’d rather not get super fat.
- – 1⅛ cups cake flour, plus ⅛ cup for rolling out (total = 1¼ cup)
- – ¾ tsp baking powder
- – ½ tsp salt
- – ¼ cup sugar
- – 1 tbsp lard (or vegetable shortening)
- – 1 large egg yolk
- – ⅓ cup full-fat sour cream
- – ground nutmeg/cinnamon to taste (about ⅓ - ½ tsp)
- – oil for frying
- – (optional) ½ cup powdered sugar
- Prepare the "dry" ingredients: Stir flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together in a bowl, incorporating the nutmeg and baking powder into the mixture well.
- Prepare the "wet" ingredients: In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream sugar and lard together on medium-high or high speed until well-incorporated. With the mixer still running, drop in the egg yolk, beating for 1 minute after the addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl and repeat.
- Put them together with sour cream to make the batter: Turn the mixer down to medium-low speed and add one-third of the dry ingredients into the wet. Beat at high speed briefly (2-4 seconds) between each addition. Add in half of the sour cream. Beat briefly. Add in another third of the dry ingredients. Beat. Add the rest of the sour cream. Beat. Add in the rest of the dry. Beat one last time for ten seconds or so, until the mixture is homogenous.
- Rest the dough: The dough should be sticky, like a biscuit dough. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and and let it rest in the fridge for an hour. Do not leave in fridge for more than eight hours.
- Roll out dough: Flour counter, then pull chilled dough out of bowl, out onto the counter. Press together so it's one lump. Sprinkle flour on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll it out until it's about half an inch (a pinky's width) thick. Using a donut cutter (or a biscuit cutter, or an empty tuna can) dipped in flour, cut out donuts and holes. Set aside the cut donuts. Take the dough scraps and gently press them back together into a ball. Repeat this step again (flour counter, roll out, cut) to create more donuts. Roll the rest of the scraps into small balls/"donut holes."
- Frying: Heat oil in a Dutch oven (or deep fryer or a wok, like I did) to 300 F. Be careful not to get the oil too hot, as the outside of the donut will burn before the inside gets a chance to cook. Once the oil reaches temperature, gently float a donut hole in the oil to test it out. Fry the hole for a few seconds before flipping over, waiting until the hole is golden brown. Take the hole out of the oil and cut in half to see if the inside is cooked. If it is, proceed to float the donuts in the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the oil, as the temperature may drop too much. Let the fried donuts cool one a rack flipped upside down, set over paper towels.
- (Optional) Roll in sugar: Lightly roll the donuts in powdered sugar while still warm. Enjoy!
While fickle and tough to maintain a temperature, I like frying in a wok because the sloping rim is like a slip ‘n slide for the food. Also, it’s much lighter than a cast iron Dutch oven. Those things are painful to clean out after frying, and I am very lazy.