Remember when I made Fried Sesame Balls with Lotus Paste? Remember how I said I’d never fry again? Well, I fried again. With the help of my lovely friend Chelsea, who had watched her mom fry chicken and was therefore qualified to supervise my frying efforts.
My own childhood was lacking in fry. Certain (Jewish) members of my (Jewish) family even refuse to fry latkes. I can count on one hand the number of times dinner has been fried, and even then, we dined on fried veggies. However, we made exceptions for the occasional donut. Once or twice a year, on a morning when we had extra time before school, we would rush to get ready and my mom would take us out to breakfast. Sometimes we went around the corner for eggs sandwiched on buttery sesame bagels from Lenny’s, but sometimes we took a detour to 72nd street for Krispy Kreme donuts. It was exciting to be eating out on a school day, and even more exciting to press our noses to the glass and watch the conveyor belt inch along, coating donut after donut with sticky sugar glaze.
There were dense chocolate cake donuts and spiraling crullers, but there was never any question that the yeast-raised donuts were the kreme of the krop. They were perfect: fluffy donuts fresh from the glaze waterfall, dipped in chocolate, and covered in rainbow jimmies. Ultimately, my contempt for the cake donut outweighed my fear of hot oil, so Chelsea and I decided to tackle a recipe designed to combat Krispy Kreme nostalgia: “Crispy and Creamy Donuts,” available on allrecipes.com courtesy of someone named Kelly. The donuts aren’t exactly like their store-bought forbearers, but I think they’re better. The dough is supremely fluffy and not too sweet, just begging to be generously dunked in pink glaze. The donuts are best the day of, but you can’t go wrong with a breakfast donut and a cup of coffee the morning after.
Surprisingly, the frying was not the most difficult part of making these donuts. I admit that I stood five feet away and made Chelsea drop the first donut round into the hot oil, but the oil barely sputtered. The tough part was actually getting the donuts into the oil. The original recipe said to shape the donuts, cover them, and let them rise, but once they expanded, they stuck to the tray. We experimented with three different spatulas, a couple sharp knives, and even the removable bottom of a tart pan, but in the end we resigned ourselves to a batch of unusually ovular tori.
We also didn’t account for expansion when we cut the donut holes; by the time the donuts doubled in size, the holes were more like suggestions than actual holes. If you don’t have a donut cutter, take a look at a picture of one online to get a sense of the donut-to-hole ratio.
Krispy Kreme Kopy Kats
Adapted from Kelly’s Crispy and Creamy Doughnuts
- 2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 tablespoons hot water or as needed
- Food color and sprinkles (optional)
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it rest for five minutes. (This is called proofing the yeast, or checking to see that it’s still active; if the yeast has expired, it won’t get bubbly or foamy).
In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix at low speed for a few minutes until smooth, and then beat in the ret of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.
Take the dough out of the bowl, and knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky to knead, sprinkle the surface with more flour. To test for elasticity, do the “window pane test”: take a walnut sized piece of dough and gently stretch it from all sides. If you can stretch it enough so that light comes through without breaking it, the dough is good to go.
Place the dough into a greased bowl, rotate the dough to coat with oil, and cover with a cloth. Set in a warm place to rise until double. The dough is ready when you poke it and it stays indented.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. If you have a donut cutter, dip it in flour and use that to cut. Otherwise, use a glass cup and a big piping tip (like a tip intended for cake decorating) to cut donut shapes. The hole in the center should be pretty big, bigger than you think it needs to be, since the donuts expand as they rise. We learned that the hard way. Cut squares of waxed paper the right size for your donuts and grease them well. Place a donut on each, cover them loosely with a cloth, and let them rise again until they’ve double in size.
To make the glaze:
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery. Think maple syrup. If you want, add pink food coloring.
To fry the donuts:
Heat oil in a deep fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). As you fry, try to keep the temperature between 350 and 360 degrees F. Slide doughnuts off the greased wax paper into the hot oil, using a spatula if they need extra coaxing. Use a pair of tongs to flip the doughnuts when they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil and place them on a wire rack to drain. Stick a cookie sheet covered in tin foil or wax paper under the wire rack so it’s easier to clean up.
When the donuts are still hot but cool enough to touch (or, if you’re anything like me, before they’re cool enough to touch), dip doughnuts into the glaze. Put them back on the wire racks to drain off the extra glaze, and sprinkle them evenly with the sprinkles of your choice.