Okay, so, last week, I made doughnuts because I just had a real desire for doughnuts. I made cake doughnuts, which personally I prefer to yeast doughnuts. I couldn’t find the recipe I prefer, so I looked up a different recipe and used that. It was a recipe for sour-cream doughnuts from a well-known cookbook author.
They were terrible.
They were so, so bad that I’m reluctant to tell you where I got the recipe, in case it was all my fault somehow and I would unfairly be tarring the recipe. They were super oily, even though YES I had the oil hot enough, and they weren’t sweet enough, and they were dry-textured, and basically they were just awful. Considering the recipe in retrospect, I can’t see why they would have been that bad or what I could have done that wrong, but who knows. I will say, they were so terrible that I wound up eating just one and then giving the rest, about eleven, to the dogs. Not all at once, of course; I don’t want to give a dog pancreatitis or anything, but each dog got about a third of a doughnut per day for several days. They thought they were pretty edible, at least, so that was something, I guess.
So that made me pretty mad, obviously. Nothing like having a craving for doughnuts and making doughnuts and then feeding them to the dogs. Obviously that was not a satisfactory outcome. So, since I couldn’t find the recipe I KNOW I copied and have somewhere — it should be in the “doughnuts and fritters” section of my recipe file, but no — I poked around on Google till I found it. Then I made doughnuts again this morning. They were perfect.
Therefore, here: The cake doughnut recipe that works, and thank you, Bon Appetit, for providing this recipe, which does in fact make the best cake doughnuts I’ve ever personally made.
I made half the recipe. This made six plus two doughnut holes, which was enough for me plus all the spaniels — they got to share a couple, not because the doughnuts weren’t good, but because I don’t like leftover doughnuts.
Lemon-glazed Yogurt Doughnuts
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 C flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt (or a very scant 1/2 tsp regular salt)
1 egg yolk
1/2 C plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 C sugar
1 T melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C powdered sugar
Zest from one lemon (Bon Appetit) or a T lemon juice (what I generally used) — optional
Enough water to make a glaze
Start the oil heating. I don’t really think about it much, but I guess it’s about three inches of oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Or, you know, a whole big bottle of canola oil, more or less. I turn the burner on medium-high when I start mixing the dough and by the time I have the first doughnuts cut out, the oil is about the right temperature. Which is to say, 350 degrees. Keep an eye on it and move the pan off the burner if the temp gets ahead of you.
Whisk together dry ingredients. Whisk together egg yolk, yogurt, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Stir to combine. Drop the dough onto a heavily floured piece of waxed paper, dust heavily with more flower, flatten slightly with your hands, top with another sheet of waxed paper. Get a ruler and roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness. It’s hard to believe how thick that is, so really, get a ruler and measure before you think you should. Cut out doughnuts with whatever you use for the purpose — I use a three-inch round cookie cutter, and then a little cookie cutter for the centers. You can use two jars of the right sizes or whatever you have handy.
I find that I can cut three doughnuts from the dough, then two more when I re-roll the dough, then one more when I re-roll it again. Then I form the scraps into two or three “doughnut holes.”
Check the oil temp. If it’s just above 350, that’s ideal. If it’s high, but not that high, move the pan off the heat before you start and let the doughnuts bring the temp down. Anyway, add three doughnuts and fry for two minutes per side, more or less. I find this dough is quite accommodating and won’t overcook easily. Even if the oil temp drops a bit below where you want it, they don’t get oily, either. Still, 350 is ideal if you can keep the oil at just about that temperature. Remove to paper towels and fry the rest of the doughnuts.
Make the glaze, if you haven’t already done so. Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon zest and/or juice if you’re using that, and enough water to make a fairly thin glaze. These doughnuts are fine with just a powdered sugar glaze; the lemon is purely optional. I didn’t have any lemons around this morning and just used a plain glaze.
These doughnuts were perfect. I’ve made them three or four times over the past year or so, and they are always perfect.
If you happen to have a favorite, reliable doughnut (or fritter) recipe, by all means drop it in the comments.