NOW THAT I have conquered bagels, I decided it was time to try making another delicious breakfast treat: doughnuts.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go as expected, but I’ll get to that.
To begin this tasty culinary exercise, I searched online for “best homemade doughnut recipe” and quickly came across a hit for “Homemade Glazed Doughnuts” by The Pioneer Woman, originally posted Feb. 8, 2010, at tinyurl.com/PDN-Doughnuts.
The recipe includes far more steps than I anticipated, but after reading through it, it seemed fairly simple.
I began making my doughnuts at about 6 a.m. before work one day. And after getting through the first stage, I take issue with the recipe’s claim that it requires just 25 minutes of prep time.
It took a little longer than an hour for me to get through all of the Stage 1 steps.
Of course, that includes two 10-minute rest periods for the dough. I used those rest periods to clean up the mess I had made so far and to rinse the used dishes.
Having recently made bagels (see my May column online at tinyurl.com/PDN-My-Bagels), I can assure you that making dough for doughnuts is much easier and more fun.
My used but still usable stand mixer was able to handle the entire process of mixing the wet ingredients with the dry. Also, watching the dough hook go round and round while slowly adding the dry ingredients became quiet hypnotic. It was almost like meditating.
After completing Stage 1, I put the dough in the fridge and left for work.
Mistakes were made
Halfway through the day, I realized I’d made an error.
The recipe calls for one and one-quarter stick butter. My half-asleep, non-functioning brain interpreted that to mean “one stick and one-quarter cup of butter.”
Oops. But the final product doesn’t taste like butter so all’s well that ends well, right?
Except, that it didn’t all go well.
When I got home that evening, I rolled out that dough and went to cut it when I realized that I didn’t have the right size cutters. I had a 3-inch cutter, but not a 1½-inch cutter.
Making the best of it, I used the 3-inch cutter for the overall doughnut shape and then poked a hole in the center of each round and stretched it out.
After allowing the dough to rest for an hour and 15 minutes, as recommended, I realized it hadn’t risen at all. I think my house is too cold or something to allow dough to rise properly.
This wasn’t an issue when I made bagels so I didn’t know what to do.
Misadventures in oil
I decided to move forward and to heat the vegetable shortening until it had melted into oil.
I recently bought a liquid digital thermometer to assist with monitoring the oil temperature.
On its first time out, the thermometer slipped through my fingers, directly into the now nearly 400-degree oil which I was trying to cool back down to 375 degrees.
Rest in peace, digital thermometer, I hardly knew ye.
With the oil now compromised and the thermometer warped and unusable, I turned to the internet for advice and discovered the doughnuts could be baked.
At 350 degrees, I baked the doughnuts for five minutes, rotated the tray and baked another five minutes.
As I prepared to make the glaze, I discovered one more sleep-deprived error I had made that morning: I used kosher salt in the dough instead of regular salt.
I’m not sure what affect that might have had on the dough, but I’m sure it didn’t help.
The final result of baking the underproven dough turned out to be more like glazed shortbread-ish cookies.
They taste fine but they are definitely not doughnuts.
I’ve always believed that nothing is a failure unless nothing was learned from the experience.
Thinking back, I learned the following things:
1. Don’t mix ingredients before my brain is fully functioning.
2. Find a warmer location to allow dough to properly rise.
3. Keep moving forward.
4. Make the best of an unexpected situation.
Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News. She is also a beginning baker and clumsy cook. She can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 560-50 or [email protected] dailynews.com.