Western Doughnuts —MAV

On Tuesday I sat down at the bar at my favorite mexican restaurant in Maine (shout out to El Camino!) and said out loud to my friends, ‘Ahhhhh, yeah. It’s Friday.’ Of course I got looks and laughs because um, like I said, it was Tuesday. And the thing is that I have had one of those weeks where it has felt like Friday every single day. Monday I was wearing a Friday smirk. Wednesday I was telling people to have a nice weekend. Thursday I was looking for evening jazz on my NPR station (they play it every Friday). What in the world?!

So I did the only thing one can do when they have a week of Fridays: made doughnuts. You remember my resolution to perfect the craft, right? Well I have a LONG way to go and it’s about time I take you on a quick journey with MAV + new recipe. Here’s usually how it goes with me …

Find a recipe
Closely analyze the ingredients
Fall in love and dream about it
Obsess about it
Head to the store
Follow the directions as closely as someone like me can (not very good at directions; I think I made X-marks on my SAT the first time through instead of filling in the circles)
Deal with the fact that it didn’t really workout
Eat it anyway
Try again

Here’s what happened this week during my week of Fridays when I tried Western Doughnuts. Let’s start with the recipe as it is in the book and exactly how I made it:

Western Doughnuts
from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

1C (4 oz) whole wheat flour
1/2 C (1-5/8 oz) oat flour
2 C (8 oz) unbleached bread flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
2 eggs
2 T (1 oz) butter, melted & cooled
1 C (7 oz) sugar
1 C (8 oz) milk
5–6 C (2 lb) safflower oil

Whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in one bowl, set aside. Lightly beat eggs in another large bowl. Add butter and sugar. Add 1 cup of the flour mixture and beat until the mixture comes together. Stir in one third of the milk. Add another cup of the flour mixture and half the remaining milk, then repeat process one last time until all are combined. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To cut the doughnuts line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut in half. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2-3/4-inch doughnut cutter cut out as many as you can and transfer them to the baking sheets gently. Using a 1-inch round cutter make the rest of the dough into smaller doughnuts. Don’t re-roll dough or the doughnuts will be too tough. Refrigerate doughnuts while oil heats.

To fry heat 2-3 inches of oil in a deep heavy skillet until it reaches 375ºF. Deep-fry the doughnuts 3-4 at a time turning them over a few times and for a total of 3 minutes. Remove each of them and let them drain on paper towel.

: : :

Now let me say my Western Doughnuts were delicious! Crisp outer edge, soft cake inside, old-fashioned looking and actually wholesome-tasting. They were not heavy at all and they were actually fairly easy to make. At this point I sort of feel like this recipe is where it’s at. I can still smell the dough and the fried dough spiced smell was even better. This is the kind of doughnut you want to have with a cup of coffee or some fresh strawberries on the side.

Here’s the thing though—my dough was way too sticky to roll out. I prepped my floured surface and my rolling pin but I didn’t even use it. After an hour of keeping the dough in the refrigerator I ended up having to very heavily flour the dough to even pick it up and I sort of patted it to the 1/2-inch thick instead of rolling it. I had a very hard time cutting out the doughnuts (note to self: buy a new doughnut cutter) and it was generally really messy and hard to handle! I was very surprised then to find that the doughnuts were still so damn good. What happened to my dough?! I can only imagine how good these will be when I do it right. As usual it’s back to the drawing board. I think next time I will make sure my eggs and milk are completely room temperature and my butter is completely cooled. I might have jumped the gun a bit in this department. And you know, maybe I need to make this recipe during a regular old week not one of these weeks of Fridays. Maybe I was just too distracted like I can be on Friday … maybe I had my head too much in the weekend and not enough on my mixing bowl. Oh who knows.

If you try this recipe let me know {hello(at)iammav(dot)com}! I would love to hear your thoughts and tips as you work your way through it.

And so now I can finally say Happy Friday and, as ever, happy baking!