“David Donald Doo dreamed a dozen doughnuts and a duck-dog, too,” wrote Dr. Suess. Doughnuts have been on our minds as of late. We’re musing about them. We’re dreaming about them. We’ve been commiserating with David Donald Doo.
Recently, we ordered two dozen doughnuts from a locally owned/operated doughnut shop. That’s a lot of doughnuts, and it cost us $50. We thought, come on, can it be that hard? Do they really need to cost so much? So, we decided to see for ourselves. But don’t take our word for it. If you’re feeling rather adventurous, or maybe if you’re empathetic to ol’ David D. Doo, jump in and give this Cook’s Illustrated recipe a go.
Buttermilk Doughnuts with Lavender Dusting
• 3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for surfaces
• 1 cup granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup for dusting
• ½ teaspoon baking soda
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon table salt
• 1½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
• ¾ cup buttermilk
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
• 6 cups vegetable shortening
• 1 tablespoon lavender buds
• In a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt, nutmeg, baking soda and powder.
• Separately, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, full eggs and the extra yolk. Then combine them into the dry ingredients that are still hanging out in the stand-mixer. Beat it all together on medium speed until smooth (approximately 30 seconds). Stop the mixer, add the remaining 2½ cups of flour, and mix slowly until just combined. As the geniuses at Cook’s Illustrated explain, “The dough will be moist and tacky, a cross between cake batter and cookie dough.”
• Set up the frying get-up by warming the frying fat in a heavy Dutch oven or the like. Using an instant-read or candy thermometer, slowly bring the frying fat’s temperature up to 375F. (Cook’s Illustrated cautions that a lower temperature results in too much fat absorption while too high a heat scorches the doughnut’s exterior before the middle is cooked through.)
• While the frying fat heats, scrape out the dough onto a very well-floured work surface (this stuff is sticky). Roll out the dough to one-half-inch thick and proceed to cut out doughnuts. (Even we kitchen geeks don’t have a dedicated doughnut stamp … who does? We simply used a water glass and a jigger to cut larger and small holes.)
• Drop a few doughnut rounds at a time into the 375F oil. Time 50 seconds. Flip with a spider strainer or the like. Time another 50 seconds, and remove to a cooling rack. Eat immediately. (Optional: grind via mortar and pestle granulated sugar and lavender buds, sprinkle atop.)
In conclusion, while they take an inordinate amount of effort and attention, these doughnuts are fantastic because you can eat them while piping hot and fresh. Have the coffee ready.