This past weekend we had our annual start-of-Lent fry party, and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed it more. I made a delicious strawberry syrup that started a syrup frenzy (it’s like jam, but not!), and we deep fried everything imaginable. Some of my favorite items that I recreated tonight were mozzarella sticks (beer and breadcrumb battered, of course) and doughnuts. Yes, homemade doughnuts. Or fasnachts, as my Pennsylvanian friend so persistently reminded me. I haven’t even considered eating a doughnut in years, but these were so good I made them twice in one weekend! I was a little nervous about the dough at first, but it turned out to be really simple. In Pennsylvania Dutch country everyone has their own special recipe, but here’s a pretty basic one that my same friend sent me, credit to Alice Faust of Kempton, PA.
Start by scalding
- 2 c. milk
Now, if you’re like me, and you have to look up what exactly scalded milk is, let me save you the trouble… It’s milk that’s been brought to about 185 degrees on the stove, to kill any bacteria and destroy enzymes that keep milk from thickening when you bake with it. Basically, if you’re buying modern, pasteurized milk, it’s unnecessary. It makes sense that a lot of older recipes call for “scalded milk,” but it’s debatable whether or not it actually affects the quality of your final product. For the sake of trying something new, I scalded my milk for this recipe.
- 1 c. plain mashed potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
- 2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. lard or shortening
…here’s where things got interesting. I didn’t have any lard on hand, and I don’t like the idea of putting hydrogenated oils in my body, but I did have a jar in my fridge full of saved bacon grease. So, I got resourceful.
I was a little nervous about my decision, so I did some quick forum hopping and found out that not only are lard and bacon grease pretty different, there’s a lot of people out there rendering their own lard! More power to ’em! Back to my immediate situation though, I had already gone out that day and really wanted an excuse to use some of my bacon grease, so, I did.
Then, I let the liquid mixture cool off to a nice lukewarm, and added
- 2 beaten eggs
- 1 package yeast (typical 1/4 oz. size, already proofed, needless to say)
Now that all that’s done with, start addin’ your flour! Add about
- 7 c. flour
and then start kneadin’. I usual shoot for an 8 minute knead. Then let it rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 hours. It will get gigantic. I also gotta say, at this point I was pretty sure my bacon grease substitute had done no harm. Now comes the fun part! When you’re ready to enjoy your doughnuts, roll out your dough to about 1/4 in. thick and cut ’em out! I used a large mug and a pill bottle for the holes (which are called timbits in Canada, I learned from my new friend Tony).
I should also say, the batch that’s pictured was made tonight, with refrigerated dough from Friday, and they turned out perfectly. This recipe makes about two dozen, so it’s good to know you can always save some for later. Two days later. Anyway…
All that’s left now is to fry ’em! Get a pot of oil going (we used corn oil, gross!) at a nice medium heat, and fry until golden brown. I recommend testing the temperature with a doughnut hole. And then testing the doughnut hole, by eating it.
I rolled most of them in cinnamon sugar, sprinkled some with confectioner’s sugar, and left a few plain ones for my roommate. I would have included a timbit or two in this picture, but there weren’t any left. I’m excited to try some jelly-filled doughnuts, whenever my next frying session happens. For now though, I’m all fried out. Goodnight.