Doughnuts are one of the many ways people around the world celebrate Lent. In parts of Germany, and in the Menonite community in Canada, they are called Fastnachts – literally “Fast Nights” where “Fast” means “to fast” as opposed to the opposite of slow! So, these are eaten on the night before we fast – in other words, on Shrove Tuesday. A great alternative to pancakes, This recipe for home made doughnuts are fun to make and may well be the most delicious doughnuts you have ever tried. A far cry from cardboard flavoured mass produced ones. The flavour comes from good ingredients and a very long fermentation time. Start these doughnuts in the morning of the day you want to eat them. They sit around minding their own business for most of the day.
If deep-fat frying freaks you out – please don’t worry about it. I freaked me out a bit too at first but once you do it once, it’s really no problem.
Ingredients for home made doughnuts
Makes between 25-50 depending on how big you make them (smaller really is better)
For the predough
225 g really finely mashed potato
225 g water in which the potatoes were boiled – completely cooled
125 g plain white wheat flour
3 g instant/6 g dry/12 g fresh yeast
For the dough
225 g sugar
200 g milk heated to just below boiling and allowed to cool completely
175 g melted butter that you have allowed to cool slightly
3 eggs, beaten
6 g salt
825 g flour
1.5 litres of high “smoke point” oil such as peanut, safflower, avacado, or rapeseed
Maple syrup or cinnamon sugar
In the morning before you want the doughnuts, make the predough
Measure all the ingredients for the predough into a big mixing bowl and mix them well. Cover with cling film and let sit for several hours.
Make the dough
Add all the dough ingredients except the flour to the predough. Beat the mixture thoroughly and then add the flour, stirring constantly. The result is somewhere in between a very stiff batter and very loose dough. Do not add more flour. Cover and let it rest for 2 hours.
Shape the buns
Scrape about half the dough out onto a heavily floured counter and generously flour the top of the dough (there is a lot of dough, so just do half at a time). Don’t worry that it is so loose. Doughnuts are made of a batter so really, it’s fine.
Using a scraper, fold the left and then the right sides of the dough into the middle and then fold the top and the bottom of the dough into the middle, working as quickly as you can.
Flip the dough over and, using a scraper that you regularly dip in flour, cut the dough into squares no more than about 3-5 cm across.
Using a scraper, place each square on floured surface and, using scissors cut a slash in all of them from one point to another. This is so they cook on the inside.
Flour them lightly and cover them with a dry tea towel to rest for one hour.
Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or deep fat fryer to 375 degrees F or 190 C. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the temperature by dropping in a few bread crumbs. If they drop to the bottom and begin to rise smoothly to the top, the oil is hot enough. If they stay at the bottom, or rise unwillingly to the top, the oil is not hot enough.
Place a few doughnuts at a time into the oil. Don’t crowd them. Fry them 2-3 minutes, turning them over from time to time until they turn dark golden brown.
Drain them on paper towel and either roll them in sugar or serve them with maple syrup. It’s Lent tomorrow, enjoy them.