Tis the Season to Fry: Easy to Make Donuts

donutsDeep frying can be really frustrating and annoying, for years I’ve avoided it, in no small part because I do my deep-frying over a gas burner.   Over the years I’ve come to see how much easier this would be if I owned an electric frying pan or even a deep fryer.  Not being a big fan of appliances-I-rarely-use-but-take-up-space-anyway I’m still working with a pot of a gas flame. Historically it was easier to just avoid deep-frying things.  Which isn’t a very practical solution for someone who loves to cook and cooks all the time.  So instead of buying a big clunky frying machine I changed my luck with deep-frying by getting a good thermometer.  It’s not fool-proof but it makes something that I had all but given up on something that is now enjoyable.  You just really need to keep you eye on the thermometer.

Now that I have my thermometer and it is deep-frying season (Chanukah) I find two more obstacles in my before I reach frying oil nirvana.  Most recipes want you to use a TON of oil. For these donuts (recipe is below when ever you get tired of my oil and frying narrative) I used 1″ of oil for a recipe that called for 3″ of oil.  I managed nicely with 1″  3′ seems unnecessary. My beef is simple: expense.  I used a quart of oil that cost $4.65 in a medium size pot (4 quarts) – a lot of recipes call for large (6-8 quart) dutch oven style pots.  Had I filled my smaller frying vessel with 3″ of oil it would have required three quarts of oil at a total cost of $13.95.  Sure you could use cheaper oil, but the not organic, high heat Safflower was not expensive comparatively speaking, organic oils ranged from $10-13 for the same amount.

What kind of oil you use is an important question and my last hurdle in finding deep-frying bliss.  I want to buy the best quality and most sustainable oil I can afford.  Avoiding GMO’s (corn, soy…) and pesticide rich (Peanut oil if it’s not organic) or oils that are destroying natural habitat, by being farmed in places like say a rain forest (Palm, Coconut) …of the options left my favorites are flavorless high heat oil is Sunflower, Grapeseed Oil, Sunflower Oil and Organic Canola.

Vegetable shortening is a favorite among some people and is certainly cheap but is made from GMO soy and corn, so I take a pass on it.IMG_1346I call these donuts easy because they don’t require rolling or cutting you just drop spoonfuls of the batter into hot oil.  I think this recipe lends it self to variation so once you’ve tried it feel free to experiment!

Orange Ginger Donuts

Melt 4 tablespoons of Unsalted Butter, reserve and let come to room temperature.

In a medium bowl add: 1 cup of All Purpose flour, 2/3 cups Sugar, 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger,  2 Tablespoons of grated Orange rind (avoiding the white pith as much as possible), 1 teaspoon of Salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of Baking Powder, 1/2 Teaspoon of Baking Soda, mix until well incorporated.

In another bowl add 1 1/2 cups of All Purpose flour.

Finally in yet another bowl add: 3/4 cups of Buttermilk, melted cooled Butter, 2 Tablespoons of Orange Juice, 1 large Egg and 1 Large Egg White. Lightly whisk together.

Pour 4 cups of high heat unflavored oil, like Sunflower or Safflower or Grapeseed, into a 4 or 5 Quart heavy bottomed pot.  Attach a thermometer to the side of the pot and turn the heat up to medium high.

Tripple layer with paper towels or old rags a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl add 1 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, mix and reseve to roll the donuts in after they are cooked.IMG_1347when the thermometer hits 365 F you can start to mix together your dough.

Add, all at once, the wet ingredients into the flour and sugar mixture, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon until just incorporated then stir in the remaining flour until the mixture is smooth-ish. Watching ever so carefully for the temperature to reach 375 F when it does immediately start to spoon batter into the oil.  The oil will cool when the batter is added, the goal is to try and keep the temperature within a 10 degree range so 165-180 would be ideal.  Turning the heat on off up or down as necessary, but trying not to make yourself crazy over it either, these are just guidelines!

I used a tablespoon for this batch, but think a smaller donut might be nicer so next time I will try a teaspoon.  I use 2 spoons and try my best to give each spoon full a nice shape. I don’t always succeed.IMG_1348The donuts should take about 3 minutes to cook, I turn my several times during the cooking to ensure an even browning.  If you make smaller donuts the cooking time will be decreased – when they are a nice golden brown they are done.

When nicely browned remove from the oil and onto the paper towels/rags to dry. Wait a few minutes before rolling these in sugar.  After I sugar dipped them I cooled them on a rack for about 20 minutes. But if you have a crowd of hungry folks waiting for dessert these donuts are great served warm with ice cream! 

** OK I changed my mind:

I think that the Ginger/Sugar combo isn’t as gingery as I want it and if you decide to give it a go I’d say add 1/2 chopped crystalized ginger to the batter and make a ginger or orange glaze (recipe below) if you want to keep with the original theme of the recipe. The sweetness of the glaze intensifies the flavor more than the spice sugar.

Cinnamon Sugar is a winning combo if you want to make these as such use 1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon in the batter, and in a bowl add 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to roll the donuts in when done.

Glaze: Sift 1 cup of confectioners sugar (organic) into a bowl, add the zest of 1 orange and 2 Tablespoons of orange juice and an option 1/4 teaspoon of ground Ginger.  Wh isk until nicely uniform. If you find this too thick thin it with a little milk or cream.

To make a Cinnamon Glaze replace the juice and ginger with 2 Tablespoons of Whole Milk and add in 1/2-1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

If you go rouge and make your own variation please let me know about it in the comments!

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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4 Responses to Tis the Season to Fry: Easy to Make Donuts

  1. pam says:

    mark, these look extremely yummy! can you strain and reuse the oil?

    • urbanfoodguy says:

      Yes I do! It’s too expensive to only use once – I think 3 times is about as much as you can re-use oil being aware that if you fry something like fish the first time you don’t want to use that oil for donuts the next time! 😉

  2. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for the paragraph about the oil. Its good to know what the options are, and what to avoid. One question: I’m from the UK and have never heard of canola oil – does it have a different name?

    • urbanfoodguy says:

      Any non flavored high heat oil that is available is good. Canola oil is mostly made from GMO seeds so would be banned from most European countries. It’s why I specifically say if you do use it only do so if it is Organic (which means in the States it can’t be GMO). Canola oil used to be called Rapeseed oil but for obvious reasons that name was not a big winner so they changed it. I like Sunflower oil or organic Peanut Oil to fry in.

      Enjoy and please report back with how they turn out!

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