Ode to an old fashioned cake doughnut

In 1950, William Rosenberg opened the first Dunkin' Donuts in Quincy, Mass. Fifty years later, his 5,000th shop opened up in Bali, Indonesia. Love of the fried rings patently has no bounds.

Today, while the company still claims to be running America, the doughnuts seem to have been lost in the coffee shuffle. The deep fried breakfast has fallen out of favor, both on the street and in the home kitchen.

While its street rap might be deserved, a homemade old fashioned cake doughnut is really not such an undeserving breakfast. Fried in a healthy oil low in saturated fat (try canola or walnut oil for an unobtrusive flavor), it is probably a better choice for cholesterol counters than a piece of toast slathered in butter. It packs an oil punch, sure, but even the ones baked in trans fat at Dunkin' Donuts weigh in at 40 calories less than the company's plain bagel sans cream cheese.

So if you love doughnuts, indulge every once in a while. Don't let the tradition of dropping a well shaped ring of sweet dough into a pot of boiling oil at home be lost to the convenience of Krispy Kreme or the restraint of a dieting nation.

This old Joy of Cooking favorite is the perfect treat for a Sunday morning. Curl up with the newspaper and a fresh mug of coffee, and enjoy.


Makes 15 large doughnuts, plus holes

Boil two large potatoes (or one small Eastham turnip) until very tender. Strain and crank through a food mill or ricer. Measure out one cup, set extra aside.

In a large bowl, stir together 3 and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt. Grind and add one nutmeg seed.

In a separate bowl, beat together 2 eggs. Add 2/3 cup sugar, 1 cup buttermilk, 4 tablespoons melted butter, and one teaspoon vanilla. Stir in potatoes (or turnips).

Add dry ingredients. Pat dough flat until it lies 1/2 inch thick onto plastic wrap. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until needed.

Cut dough into rings. Save scraps to make doughnut holes. Fry in several inches of very hot (365 degree) oil for 5 minutes each side or until the dough turns a deep golden brown. Drain excess oil, pat dry, and leave plain, roll in sugar, or powder when cool with confectioner's sugar.


Turnips can be substituted for potatoes with little change in flavor. Eggnog makes a wonderful substitute for buttermilk in a holiday doughnut. Ground nutmeg or cinnamon can be added to the sugar for a well-spiced coating. To make a glaze for the treats, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add a tablespoon of cream and powdered sugar (about one cup) until the desired thickness is reached. To thin, increase cream; to thicken, continue adding sugar. Drizzle and enjoy.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.