Cinnamon-glazed donuts

If you’ve never had a homemade donut fresh out of the fryer, you’re missing out on what a donut should be.

There is no such thing as a “bad” fried dough (taste-wise, not health-wise), but making donuts from scratch, compared to donuts that are designed to survive long-distance transport, long shelf-life and uniform shapes, yields a much softer, more flavorful dough. The reason most commercially produced donuts are liberally lathered with frosting are because the cakes on their own aren’t all that good.

This recipe produces a donut that can be eaten without any glaze — but, really, what fun is that? So I’ve provided a simple three-ingredient glaze that you can use or choose not to use at your own discretion.

And, yes, a dedicated deep fryer makes the process a whole lot easier, but you can get good results from a fry pan or stock pot with a couple inches of peanut oil; or, go whole-hog and use lard (pun intended).

This recipe will yield two dozen medium-sized donuts. You can find donut cutters at most kitchen shops for $2, or you can use a wide-mouth cup for the outer ring and a shot glass for the donut hole.

I adapted this recipe from “Kitchen Magic,” a fundraiser cookbook put together in 1958 by the “Spicer Presbyterian Ladies” of Spicer, Minn. The recipe was submitted for the cookbook by “Mrs. Albert Block” (I wonder what HER name was…). I found the cookbook in an antique store in Mason City, Iowa, and decided to give this recipe a shot.

What you’ll need for the donuts:

  • 3/4 cup warm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons of instant yeast (or two packets)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-4 1/2 cups flour (I prefer unbleached Seal of Minnesota)

What you’ll need for the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

What to do:

  1. Soak yeast in the warm water for five minutes
  2. Meanwhile, combine salt, sugar and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix at low speed until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved.
  3. Mix in 1 cup of the flour and both of the eggs.
  4. Cut in the shortening while mixing, adding a small piece at a time.
  5. Add the yeast mixture.
  6. While still mixing, add the remaining dough, one cup at a time, until a soft ball of dough is created in the mixing bowl. I usually know my dough is ready when the dough is just slightly sticking to the bottom of the mixer bowl, but pulling away with a little prompting.
  7. Switch to a dough hook and knead for five minutes (or knead by hand on a well-floured surface).
  8. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm location to ferment for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  9. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is about 1/3-inch thick. Cut the donuts using a donut cutter or the two-step “cup” method outlined above. You could also just cut by hand with a knife, they don’t have to be perfect. Make sure and reserve some donut holes, too, as they’re delicious. And you can reknead and cut the remaining dough after cutting your first batch.
  10. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to proof for 30-45 minutes. The donuts will puff up slightly.
  11. Fill a fry pan or stock pot with at least 1 1/2 inches or 2 inches deep of peanut oil, or set up your deep fryer as you could for any deep frying. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.
  12. Fry the donuts in small batches, making sure to leave plenty of room in the pot or fryer. Fry until the outside of the donut riches a rich brown color, flipping over frequently. In my deep fryer, I could do two donuts at a time, and flipped the donuts over three teams during the course of the frying.
  13. Remove donuts from the oil and cool on a wire rack.

What to do to glaze:

  1. Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a shallow bowl and whisk until all of the sugar and cinnamon have dissolved.
  2. Dip each donut in the glaze and set back on the wire rack to set the glaze.
  3. You can do this at any stage, but of course the glaze adheres and sets best if the donuts are still slightly warm to the touch.

Variations and ideas:

  • Combine equal parts granulated sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and “swirl” the donut holes right after removing them from the fryer.
  • Try the cream cheese frosting recipe Jessie linked to here.
  • For a simple sugar glaze, just combine 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1/4 cup water.
  • Use the simple sugar glaze recipe and substitute the water for apple juice, orange juice, Frangelico liqueur, Bailey’s Irish Cream…get the idea?

Related posts:

  1. Real ‘popcorn’ chicken
  2. Homemade pizza
  3. Grown-up chicken fingers and hot sauce
  4. Foil-baked potatoes on the grill
  5. Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns ice cream

About the Author

Owner of a graphic design firm specializing in magazine design and wannabe chef. Former resident of Belgium, the United Kingdom and...North Dakota.