Sunday, June 27, 2010

Designated driver..where are the doughnuts?

Doughnuts, everybody loves them and they are easily accessible anytime, anywhere. America runs on Dunkin...or so, I have heard.  But before Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme's there was good old-fashioned doughnuts.  They were called back then olykoeks, or oily cakes and the Dutch could be credited for bringing the doughnuts to the New World.  So why the hole in the center?  Well the story goes that a sea captain by the name of Hanson Crockett Gregory was sent on one of his many sea voyages with several of his mothers doughnuts and the recipe to make more if the need arose.  He apparently had a rough time steering the helm and eating that oily cake so he stuck his doughnut on one of the spokes of his steering wheel.  Acting on Captain Gregorys request, the ships cook made all subsequent doughnuts with a hole in the center.
At the World's Fair in Chicago the doughnut was declared "the food hit of the Century of Progress"so began the mass production of these tasty treats, up sprung Krispy Kreme's, Dunkin Donuts, and Honeydew Donuts to name just a few.  Legend has it that the word Dunkin in front of the Donut was because Mae Murray supposedly dropped her donut in her coffee at Lindy's Deli on Broadway, in New York City.
I have to say the one place I would love to visit is Voodoo Donut in Portland , Oregon.  These folks have a fantastic marketing strategy.  Their signature donut is a gingerbread shaped man with a pretzel stick stabbed into its chest and has a red "blood" jelly filling, and the Bacon maple bar, a yeast raised doughnut with maple frosting and strips of crispy bacon. HOW COOL IS THAT?  bacon and doughnuts ,mmmmm. Well since Oregon is not in my immediate future, I will have to just admire from afar. I make cake donuts every Saturday for customers and it took me forever to learn the delicate technique of frying the donuts.  At times they soaked up the oil, other times they exploded, and still other times I felt they could serve easily as bricks, in the construction of homes.  But I kept at it and I learned.  Here is a version of what I do hope you like them.
1 egg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 oz melted butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup buttermilk maybe more if dry
4 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
oil for frying
What I do is combine all my dry ingredients and use a whisk and mix up.
In a mixer combine the egg, sugar and vanilla and mix on medium until the egg turns light and somewhat fluffy, add your melted butter and mix until incorporated.  Add applesauce and mix.  Alternate with dry ingredients and buttermilk on low speed until mixed.  The dough should be somewhat tacky, but firm(here is where I had troubles, practice makes perfect). Flour your surface and pat your dough out treating it somewhat like biscuits, not too much rolling. Cut your donuts out, I use biscuit cutters, and place on floured cookie sheet.  It is good to let the doughnuts rest for 30 minutes.  Perfect time to heat your oil. Its hard for me to tell you how hot it should be, because I honestly never used a thermometer, recipes say from 350F to 375F, myself I would err on the 350F that way you have more control. Fry turn over and fry and have at least 4 tester doughnuts until you get the hang of it.  Drain on paper towels and dredge in cinnamon sugar.

At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely.~W.Somerset Maugham(1874-1965)

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