December 04, 2012
1/4 ounce (1 envelope) dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk or soy milk
2 tablespoons soft butter or margarine
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 – 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup sugar for dusting doughnuts
canola oil for frying
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1. In a large bowl, place the yeast, warm water and one teaspoon of the sugar and stir. Let sit 10 minutes, or until thick. Add the remaining sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk or soy milk, butter or margarine, egg, vanilla, salt and 2 cups of the flour and mix either with a wooden spoon or with a dough hook in a stand mixer on low speed. Make sure the butter or margarine is mixed in well and you do not see any big clumps. Add 1/2 cup flour and mix in. Add another 1/2 cup flour and mix in and, if the dough remains sticky, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons flour, a little at a time, until the dough becomes smooth. Cover bowl with a clean dishtowel and let rise one hour in a warm place.
2. After the hour, punch down the dough by folding it over a few times, reshaping into a ball, and then re-cover and let rise 10 minutes.
3. Dust a cookie sheet with flour. Sprinkle some flour on the counter or on parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out 1/2-inch thick. Use a small round cookie cutter, 1 1/2 inches wide, to cut out circles, very close to each other in the dough, and place them on the cookie sheet. Re-roll and cut scraps. Cover the doughnuts with the towel. Place the cookie sheet back in the warm place. Let rise 45 minutes.
4. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a medium saucepan and use a candy thermometer to see when the oil stays between 365ºF and 370°F for a few minutes and adjust the flame to maintain that temperature range. Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on top and set near the stovetop.
5. When the oil is ready, slide in the doughnuts top-side down into the oil and cook 45 to 60 seconds. You can cook up to 8 at a time. Turn the doughnuts over and cook another 45 to 60 seconds, or until golden. Lift with a slotted spoon and place on the wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts. Roll in sugar, if desired.
6. To make the caramel, place the sugar and water into a small or medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Let cook without stirring until the sugar on the edges starts to brown; this takes a few minutes. Once the sugar colors, stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula and cook until all of the sugar has melted and the mixture turns dark amber, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low, remove saucepan from heat and add the cream, butter and vanilla, and cinnamon and whisk. The mixture will bubble up. Place the mixture back on the stove over medium-low heat and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for one minute. Pour into a bowl and let cool. Store covered at room temperature for up to one week.
Note: to make sauce parve: substitute margarine and parve whipping cream and after you place the cooked caramel into a bowl, let cool for 30 minutes and then place in the fridge for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until thick.
Healthier Option: Bake rather than fry! Place cut doughnut holes on parchment paper without sprinkling the flour. After they rise for 45 minutes, bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Omit rolling in sugar.
Some important rules about homemade doughnuts:
1. You MUST have a candy thermometer, or stick to latkes. There is no way to fry doughnuts successfully if the temperature is too high, leaving the center under-cooked, or too low, turning the doughnuts into sponges for the oil.
2. The oil temperature MUST remain between 365°F and 370°F. Be patient and wait to achieve that temperature range after each batch.
3. STAY PUT when frying and watch them carefully - they will go from perfectly golden to scorched very quickly.
4. It is best to fry doughnuts as close as possible to serving them, though you can reheat them in a 250°F oven the next day until they are warm and soft.