Well, maybe it’s not hip to fry, especially when you use some Crisco (trans-fat alert!), but it is hip to make your own foods these days. I’ve been making my own salad dressings, dessert toppings (caramel sauce…YUM!) and other things in the last couple of years, and I have had no trouble at all when I’ve searched the net for tips and recipes. Knowing that I’m serving more foods without added preservatives and funky chemicals makes me feel like a better keeper of the family’s health, so I persevere.
Since I was shocked out of my slumber this morning by the call from the school superintendent, notifying me of my son’s official inclement weather day, I decided to fry up some breakfast. Now, this is not something I do very often. I don’t have a Sam’s Club-sized supply of Crisco or vegetable oil sitting around in the cupboard so that I can deep-fry on a whim. It just so happened that I had enough of both to get about 1 1/2″ of oil in the saucepan, just enough for donut hole frying.
Frying donuts is very nostalgic for me. My grandmother worked in a donut shop in New Haven, IN for a time, and when I was in town for a visit, I’d bounce in there with a gaggle of cousins, expecting freebies of freshly-fried doughnuts. She went along with that a couple of times, but she cut us off when I abused the privilege. Trouble was, my younger brother and sister would also show up with cousins, and the donut shop owner frowned on giving away all of his profits. Go figure. Anyway, I can remember watching Grandma roll out the dough, cut the little circles of happiness, and drop them into the hot oil. They’d turn such a lovely color of deep caramel, then she’d dump them out into powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, or drip glaze over them. They were always cake donuts, but they were light and fluffy and completely irresistable.
In high school, we had the opportunity to fry donuts in home ec class. (I’m sure that’s an archaic term, but I don’t know what they call it these days.) This is where I learned to fear the oil. In an effort to ensure that we girls would not burn ourselves or our lovely uniforms, the home ec nun etched the fear of hot oil into our impressionable brains! It was “don’t do this, don’t do that, never do this!” My partner and I were successful donut fryers, though, and we ate every one we didn’t burn to a crisp.
Lots of people have fear of frying, I know. It’s nothing to fear if you take simple precautions like using a thermometer, not plopping the food into the oil from the top of the pan, or avoiding getting any liquids into the hot lava of bubbling oil. The hot oil is something to respect, since it will surely offer you something crisp, golden, and yummy.
I still use the Golden Puffs recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook we used in high school, copyright 1969, although I deep-fry at 350 degrees, not 375 degrees. 375 pushes the envelope, and the dough gets browned too quickly. I’m not totally satisfied with the holes I cooked this morning, because I didn’t use a thermometer, which I should have done since I’m still getting used to this new stove and it’s peculiarities.
Anyway, the Golden Puffs received thumbs up from teenaged son, which is a good thing, coming from a big Dunkin’ Donuts plain cake donut lover.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg or mace
1/4 cup salad oil (I love these archaic terms!)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Heat fat or oil (3 -4 inches deep) to 350 degrees. (NOTE: I use a 4 qt saucepan, only 1 1/2 inches deep, but you have to eyeball it. You’re dropping in dough by the tsp, so it has to be deep enough for a small ball to float.)
Measure flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg into medium bowl. Add oil, milk, and egg, beat until smooth. (It’s a thick batter.)
Drop batter by teaspoonfuls (larger ones will be too gummy inside) into hot fat. (Drop from just over the oil surface, to avoid splashing. USE A THERMOMETER, for crying out loud, unless you’re a fry pro.) Fry 3 or 4 at a time (more, and the oil temp will drop, yielding greasy donuts) for 2 or 3 minutes on both sides. (You will see how brown they are getting around the edges on the first side. When they are looking golden, flip over gently with slotted heat-proof spoon.) Drain.
Stir together the sugar and cinnamon and roll warm puffs in the mixture. (powdered sugar, with or without cinnamon, can be used.)
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen puffs.