08/29/03’s illustrious band:
originally posted: 07/30/02
It’s summer, kids, and you know what that means: reruns, reruns, reruns! Yes, even on Band Name of the Day. Here’s a little deep-fried flashback brought on by a discussion of the Minnesota State Fair and the crispy, crunchy, deep-fried mini-donuts you can find there. Bon appetit!
Brought to you by Recipes from the Belle Fourche Community.
Here is proof that deep-fried dough is one of God's great gifts: that holy of holeys, the donut. The recipe is simple: mix dough, roll out and cut donuts, fry, apply sugar, eat. Whether you're enjoying a mass-produced confection at a big ol' church brunch or a bag of minis at the state fair, a fresh crispy donut still damp with hot grease and crusted with sugar is one of nature's perfect foods.
When I was but a wee Media Sensation, Mother Media had a donut recipe much like the one below. (I don't remember whether it had come to her through Dad's parents, who ran a bakery, or from elsewhere.) Once my friends and I were old enough to behave responsibly around frying oil — early high school years — we were allowed to have donut-making parties. My girlfriends and I would invite some boys over to my house, and they would cluster around the TV to watch Knight Rider while we did the cooking. A cringe-worthy example of sex-role stereotyping, I know. It made us mad, too, but we put up with it because hey! we had boys nearby!
So we would roll out the premixed, prechilled dough (thanks, Mom!) and cut out a dozen or so at a time with a special donut cutter that sliced the divot in the middle. (It never occurred to any of us not to cut the middle out of the dough circle. Part of the definition of "donut" is that it has a hole in the middle, and some traditions you just don't question.)
We tossed — er, gently and carefully placed — both the donuts and the holes in the grease and watched, fascinated, as the dough browned and swelled. When they reached the proper state of goldenness on one side, someone would use a slotted spoon to flip — I mean, gently and carefully turn — them over to fry the other side. We scooped the finished products straight into brown paper bags preloaded with plain sugar, cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar, shook vigorously, and served. This last step was the only part the boys took seriously.
The coolest part, though, was reinventing the self-turning donut. I believe it was in reading the Little House on the Prairie books to me (the third book in the series, Farmer Boy, possibly?) that Mother Media learned of the self-turning donut, an ingenious innovation that saved a busy baker one step in the process. Rather than placing the dough "O" flat in the frying oil, you stretch it a little and twist it a couple times first. That way when the bottom half swells as it cooks, the spiral seam makes it easy for the inflated bottom half to rise to the top, rolling over and trading places with the uncooked top half. Very nifty!
It was a fine way to spend a chilly fall evening. That recipe produced a vast quantity of donuts, so none of us was wanting for fried pastry or a sugar buzz by the end of the night. If you're looking for a community-building activity that involves hot oil and cool physics, you can't go wrong with making donuts*.
* A word to the wise: Due to the lack of preservatives, fresh homemade donuts don't keep. Plan on eating the whole batch, preferably while they're still warm.
1-1/2 c. sugar
4 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 c. half & half
5-1/2 c. flour
Mix; roll out. Cut donuts. Fry according to deep fryer instructions. Easier to roll out if first chilled slightly. After frying, roll in sugar, powdered sugar, frost, or serve plain. Fresh, hot oil makes the best donuts.
Visit the BND archives at http://jugglernaut.blogspot.com.