Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I’m making doughnuts – not donuts!

You may wonder what kind of stress can there possibly be when you eat for a living, but believe me, I can have a few pretty bad days. So here I am in the middle of the worst day ever! I’m refusing to answer the phone any longer for fear it may be another fire that I may or may not be able to put out.

So what do you do on your bad days? I head for the sanctity of my kitchen and make something that makes me feel good. Usually it’s something sweet and today is no different. Today I’m making doughnuts. I use the English spelling instead of the American simply to distinguish between the sea of homogeneous dough balls, circles and twists from the pure luxurious joy one experiences from sinking your teeth into a warm, sugary home made doughnut – oh, yum.

Raised in a family who cooked really well, doughnuts are one of my many comfort foods. I remember my grandmother deep frying doughnuts and as fast as they cooked (and doughnuts cook almost instantaneously!) we gobbled them up. They were warm, soft, and sweet with a chewy outside and billowy inside. They were the culinary equivalent of a grandmothers love.

Of course, there are as many different recipes for doughnuts as there are calories in each one. My grandmother made traditional doughnuts with a yeasty dough that rose not once but twice. Today is not a good day and I need an immediate act of mercy so these won’t do.

Apparently, my habit is to make doughnuts in the fall because all I can find among my scribbled notes are recipes for pumpkin doughnuts and apple cider doughnuts. Ah finally, I find a recipe for Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts I found on a food blog one day. There is a note scribbled on the recipe that raves about the fantastic food blog called Christie’s Corner, written by Charmian Christie. Check it out, it’s really good.

The great thing about doughnuts is, the basic ones are never high maintenance. With a well stocked pantry, I have all the ingredients I need to make a batch of love – or in other words, Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts. I can just imagine my grandmother frying them up for me right now.

Unlike my grandmother, I wheeled my KitchenAide from the pantry and plugged it in to do the work for me. It creamed the shortening and sugar together until it was a golden sand mixture, then I added the egg yolks one at a time and the sand turned to a thick cream as I scrapped down the sides of the giant bowl.

I mixed the dry ingredients together and added it little by little to the yellow cream with intermittent scoops of sour cream. In the end the dough was quite sticky and wet. I wondered if perhaps I should add more flour. I resisted for now, covered the bowl and refrigerated it while I got back to putting out another fire.

I was successful in smoothing out one catastrophe and was feeling much better as I made my way back into my kitchen to fry up the doughnuts. Chilled, the dough was a bit firmer and I used a lot of flour on my hands, work surface and rolling pin. It was workable. I emptied a bottle of canola oil into a deep pot and set the gas to high.

I have a series of round cookie cutters so I was feeling no pressure to shape the perfect doughnut. When the hot oil was ready, I dropped in the first doughnut and the oil sizzled and sputtered. I dropped in the second one and that’s when I realized my perfect doughnuts weren’t so perfect after all. They are too big for the pot and I can only cook one at a time, aughhh.

I reworked the dough and cut out smaller doughnuts only to find I had no instrument to cut a hole small enough - now what? Finally, I found the top of a glue stick - hey, it worked!

Doughnuts cook incredibly fast and you certainly don’t have to cook them for as long as I did. I tried to reach a light golden brown colour but by the time I could get them out of the oil and onto a rack, they’d overcooked. There is a real skill to frying doghnuts and not wanting to be outdone by a doughnut, I made a vow to do this again real soon.

The recipe for the glaze looked like it would make way too much for me, so I whisked up about a third of the recipe. Next time I’ll buy some white vanilla so I can have a beautiful white glaze instead of a dull glaze, and my doughnuts were a darker brown than I would have like too, but for today, it didn't matter.

I sat in my big arm chair in the living room with a hot cup of tea and a plate full of 2 glazed doughnuts and 2 doughnut holes. I bit into the warm dough and the world seemed to instantly disappear as my teeth sank into the soft, sweet, billowy cloud with the silky texture of the glaze luxuriating across my palate and finding its way deep into my psyche.

Thanks Charmian for the delicious doughnuts and for giving me my “moment of love” that helped to turn my upside down world, right again.

Click here for the complete recipe, http://on.fb.me/HxLJ7U

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