I remember when I was a child and played on our town’s Robin’s Doughnut’s softball team. After every game, they would take us to the local haunt and we would have doughnuts. Unfortunately, my high-cholesterol-ness often prevented me from indulging in such sweets. But I still remember the smells. Warm pastries, fresh out of the fryer, coated in a sweet and often cinnamon-y smell.
After skiing, though I myself did not eat the doughnuts, I wanted to smell that familiar sweet aroma floating around me as my exhausted body settled down in the nearest chair.
Doughnuts have been labelled with a convoluted history. With a variety of doughs, whether yeast-based or not, deep fried in oil and covered in several different toppings, doughnuts have a variation of histories all around the world. Essentially, the sweet wheel was discovered in different regions at the same time, not one culture was responsible for its round goodness.
The North American doughnut that we all know and love, however, were supposedly brought to our continent but the settling Dutch, and were originally known as a “sweetened cake fried in fat” (an appetizing description . . .).
I covered the fried goods in my own version of white powder – sugar. With a hint of cinnamon. The powdery end to my powdery day.
I also glazed the doughnuts with a simple syrup, reminding me of my favourite treat at Tim Horton’s, just usually in cocoa style (a recipe which I hope to eventually do).
While the cinnamon sugar doughnuts were delightful, the glazed were spectacular, especially warm out of the dipping bowl, dripping with icing and containing a warmed, fluffy middle.
The doughnut holes, or ‘Timbits’ as our national treasure of a chain likes to call them, were the perfect grab-able snack which came from cutting the doughnuts (I personally didn’t have a doughnut cutter to make the shapes, so I used a large glass and a shot glass to make the classic rounds. I guess these could be called ‘shotbits’, but it would be a bit tangental of me to expound upon this phrasing.). No matter the manner of creation, these doughnuts were the epitome of a childhood memory, with all the sights, smells, and tastes included.
Old Fashioned Doughnuts
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. milk
1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
1 c. superfine sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. icing sugar
3 tbs. milk, add more if needed to get the right consistancy
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon together. In a different bowl, cream the butter with about half the sugar. Beat until fluffy. Gradually add the eggs while continuing to beat and then add the remaining sugar. Drizzle in the vanilla while still beating.
2. Add the dry ingredients and milk to the sugar mix, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with the flour mix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for one hour (I used the great outdoors as my fridge – a plus of being in Whistler).
3. Heat the oil to 375 F. in a deep-fryer. Roll out the dough on a flat floured surface so it is about 1/4-inch thick. Cut it into doughnut shapes using a doughnut cutter, floured.
4. Place the doughnuts, carefully, in the deep fryer, cooking them until they are golden brown on each side (about two minutes on each side). Remove them and let drain for several minutes.
5. If wanting to make sugared doughnuts, mix the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the doughnuts while they are still quite warm but have drained off most of the excess oil. Shake them around the bowl, flipping them over, until they are completely covered with sugar.
6. If desiring glazed doughnuts, mix together the ingredients for the glaze thoroughly with a mixer. While the doughnuts are still hot, but drained of almost all oil, add them to the bowl, flipping them over several times to completely cover with the glaze. Remove them to a cooling rack, which has some kind of covering underneath, to let them cool and the glaze to harden.
Pray. Eat. Enjoy baking something that embodies childhood and all its idiosyncrasies.