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not old fashioned

Recipe: old fashioned doughnuts

We piled ourselves, the dog, and eight pairs of skis into the car over the weekend and made our way south and west to Crested Butte. I patted myself on the back too soon for catching Neva’s puke episode in a strategically placed plastic bag, because when we stopped for gas in Buena Vista, she threw up again – down the back of the driver’s seat and on her doggy bed. Then when we opened the door to get her out of the car, she projectile vomited all over the door and on Jeremy’s shoes and pants. But we did eventually get to Crested Butte and we were all very happy for it. We gave Neva lots of treats and snuggles and warm blankets for her to curl up in, and I googled how to clean vomit from car upholstery.

this was the best moment of the drive: spotting bighorn sheep

Here in Crested Butte, Jeremy and I just want to hole up with our pup so we can ski and work in peace for the week. As usual, we have no grand plans for a Thanksgiving-style feast. We like to keep things simple and low-stress in general, but especially over the holidays. The only thing that will make an appearance from a typical Thanksgiving menu will be mashed potatoes. We’re grilling steaks because 1) they taste better and 2) they are quick and easy. And I plan to roast lots of vegetables because honestly, that green bean casserole (I don’t care HOW fresh you make it) is disgusting. The argument “This is how we’ve always done it,” doesn’t sit well with me. That line has gotten humans into a lot of trouble through the years… including overeating at Thanksgiving.

we try our best to do the opposite of stuffing ourselves at thanksgiving

a steady climb into the beautiful high country

neva loves her exercise as much as we do (probably more!)

I try to approach life from a more pragmatic perspective. Traditions that I used to blindly follow now come under heavy scrutiny. Does it cause anyone harm? Is it a source of unnecessary stress? Is it a stupid waste of money or time? Is it just plain stupid? The only part of this holiday that I do really like is the reminder to give thanks and to remember (i.e. help) those who are less fortunate. If you don’t know what you are thankful for, perhaps take some quiet moments – step away from your phone, no really – and mull that one over. It’s important and it’s good for you.

a peaceful frozen alpine lake rests under a mesmerizing cloud pattern

What might not be so good for you are these old fashioned doughnuts. But they’re awfully tasty and no one said you had to eat all of them. Just have one… or two… or… Old fashioned doughnuts rank right up there with French crullers for me. I read several recipes and was surprised to find the doughnuts were so easy to make! Except for me, they weren’t easy at all. My first attempt was a bit of a disaster and I spent several days troubleshooting and researching, which led me to this 1940 research paper on deep-fat frying at altitude. Turns out if you live at or near sea level, you’re golden. Follow the recipe as is. If you live at elevation – let’s say above 5,000 feet – you might want to make a few adjustments which I list in parentheses in the recipe below. The photos in this post are from the first batch, but the final photos are of the second batch.

sour cream, sugar, shortening, cake flour, egg yolks, salt, baking powder, nutmeg

whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg together

The main issue for my elevation at 8500 feet was to reduce my frying temperature and substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour. The texture of the first batch with cake flour expanded and fell apart the moment the doughnuts floated to the surface. They were very airy and absorbed way too much oil. The doughnuts that had been cut from recombined scraps fared a little better, but still had the wrong kind of bumpy surface. When I fried the second batch made with all-purpose flour at a lower temperature (300°F instead of 325°F), the doughnuts held together nicely with a crisp outside and soft inside, not too oily either! The crumb was still a tad denser than I think they ought to be, so I’m tempted to try half cake flour and half all-purpose flour the next time around.

beat the shortening and sugar together

mix in the egg yolks

blend in half of the flour mixture

stir the sour cream in and finish with the rest of the flour mixture

cover and refrigerate the dough

While the dough chills, whip the glaze together. I found the original glaze to be rather thick for my taste, so I wound up adding more water to thin it out. Your mileage may vary, so be sure to dip a test doughnut (maybe one of the fried holes) first to see if the glaze requires more thinning. If a crust forms on top of the glaze before you dip your doughnuts, just give it a thorough stir with a whisk or spatula until it is smooth again.

hot water, vanilla extract, light corn syrup, confectioner’s sugar

pour the liquids into the sugar

whisk until smooth

Generously flour your work surface with bread flour and approach it with a gentle touch rather than manhandling it. I think overworking the dough can make your doughnuts tough and/or dense. Roll it out to 1/2-inch thickness – no thinner or your doughnuts might burn. I like to lift the dough off the work surface and swipe a little more flour on the board so that the dough won’t stick and deform when I pull the shapes off. Cut out the doughnuts with a 2 3/4-inch diameter circular cutter. Cut the holes with a 1 1/4-inch diameter cutter. Use a sharp knife to score three lines around each ring, to form a sort of triangle. This promotes the formation of the signature petals on old fashioned doughnuts. Score does not mean to cut deeply or the petals might detach during the frying process. Fry the doughnuts according to the recipe instructions, then dip them in the glaze (petal-side down) while they are still warm.

roll out the dough

cut out the doughnut rings

score the doughnuts

fried (this first batch was fried at too high a temperature)


My first batch of doughnuts was so greasy that I had to trash it despite how much I hate wasting food. That was my clue that the temperature was not correct for my elevation. My second batch came out so nicely – a beautifully delicate flavor, moist tender crumb, crisp outside, and just the right amount of sugar from the glaze which I thinned out with more water. The doughnuts will keep in an airtight container for at least three days. I don’t know what happens after three days because Jeremy polished them off (I only made a half batch in case this one tanked, too). I could see myself making the dough the night before and frying these beauties up for breakfast for house guests in the morning. Who can say no to fresh old fashioned doughnuts?

great with hot coffee

my incentive for excercise – to be able to eat a fresh homemade doughnut

or two…

Old Fashioned Doughnuts
[print recipe]
from Peaches Please

2 1/4 cups cake flour (at 8500 ft.: try all-purpose flour or half cake flour and half all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
2 tbsps shortening (at 8500 ft.: 1 1/2 tbsps)
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks, large
2/3 cup sour cream
bread flour for dusting
vegetable oil for frying

3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsps corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup – 1/2 cup hot water (more water as needed)

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together and set aside. Mix the shortening and sugar together on low speed until it is uniform and sandy. Add the egg yolks to the sugar and mix on medium speed until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and beat on medium until you can’t see the flour. Mix in the sour cream, and then mix in the rest of the dry ingredients until just combined. It should form a sticky dough. Scrape the dough into a new bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Make the glaze: While the dough is chilling, stir the powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and 1/3 cup hot water together until you form a smooth icing. Add more water to thin the glaze to your desired consistency. I tend to like mine as more of a glaze than an icing. Set aside until ready to use. If a crust forms on top, just whisk the glaze vigorously until it is smooth again.

Heat several inches of oil in a deep pot (I use a stock pot) to 325°F. [If you are at elevation, then the general rule to follow is to decrease your frying temperature by 3°F for every 1000 feet above sea-level. For me, that’s 25.5°F, but I just target 300°F.] Gently roll the dough out on a well-floured (use the bread flour) work surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Use two circular cutters to cut out the circles and the holes of your doughnuts. The reference recipe suggests a diameter of 2 3/4 inches for the larger cutter and 1 1/4 inches for the smaller cutter. With a sharp knife, lightly score the doughnuts 3 times to form a rough triangle on each ring. This encourages those lovely petals to develop. You can press the dough scraps together and roll the dough out again to make more doughnuts, but these will be slightly less fluffy (they’re still good, though).

Carefully place a few doughnuts into the hot oil, sliced-side up. I set mine on a fish spatula and lowered it into the oil so as not to stretch the ring. When the doughnut floats to the surface, let it fry for 15 seconds, the carefully flip it over and let fry for 90 seconds. Flip the doughnut one last time and fry for another 75 seconds until golden and remove it to a cooling rack to drain. When the doughnuts are slightly cooled, but still warm, dip them cut-side down into the glaze and let any excess drip off before setting them back on the cooling rack (glaze-side up). Cook the holes the same way, but reduce the fry time by half. Makes 10-12 doughnuts.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

french crullers apple cider doughnuts baked pumpkin doughnuts baked chocolate doughnuts

8 nibbles at “not old fashioned”

  1. Trish G. says:

    Yum! Thank you, Jen, for another wonderful recipe. Can’t wait to try these and glad to know that I can make the dough the day before. We host lots of houseguests, and what a fun breakfast this will be! Hugs to poor Neva. I still keep hoping she’ll outgrow the car sickness!

  2. Katey says:

    Good God girl, I don’t know how you have time for all the fun and beautiful cooking you do. I’m happy to hear someone else feels the same about the holidays. It will be the first for me without my parents, I lost them both recently, and the rest of the family can’t understand why I’d rather be at my little snowy cabin in the beautiful Methow. Oh well, maybe next year.
    Anyway, I wanted to reiterate my suggestion for your vomiting pup. CERENIA! I’ve nevr known it to have any side effects, works like a dream, and saves tons of time on cleanup after travel. Just ask your vet, maybe even get some before your drive to your other home.
    Have fun!

  3. Melissa says:

    I love so much what you are saying about gratitude but also about checking yourself re. traditions and habits. I am doing that/have done that in a variety of ways in my life and find it eye-opening. I don’t want to spend any of my time or energy on things that don’t truly make me happy just because of some long-ingrained notion of “right” or “should.”

    On that note, though, forgive me for the green bean casserole I am making for second Thanksgiving this Saturday. It’s an in-law thing and I am obliging. ;) (For first Thanksgiving for my family tomorrow, it’s roast carrots and molasses brussels sprouts, tyvm).

    And I will put these doughnuts on my to try someday list. I will. Calories be damned.

  4. Jill Hyde says:

    Oh dear…I do hope Neva grows out of car sickness. She doesn’t get motion sick when she’s in motion! And OH MY, those doughnuts!!!!!!!! YUMMMMMMMM. xo, jill

  5. Monica says:

    I don’t have a dog, but I have 2 puke-y cats, and perhaps the best thing I’ve invested of is called a ‘spotbot’ (made by bissel). I have cleaned car upholstery (and furniture, and carpets) with it, and I will never again not own one.

    Also, for me, mint helps a lot with motion sickness (and any time i have an upset stomach), I’m not sure if it’ll work with dogs, but they do make mint dog treats.

  6. jenyu says:

    Trish G – thank you! We called the vet and got a new prescription for her which seemed to work on our drive home yesterday. Sweet girl. Hope the doughnuts work out for you. I love these!

    Katey – oh, that must be so difficult. I can only imagine the heartbreak of losing both parents so soon. Sending you many peaceful and loving vibes. We did get a prescription (for a different drug) that worked on our latest drive home. It makes Neva drowsy, which is a good thing, because we think if she’s awake she just stresses herself out and adds to the sickness. She slept most of the way, but was happy to get out and potty and walk around at the midpoint of the trip. I still hope it’s just a puppy thing. Fingers crossed.

    Melissa – ha ha, that’s why we exercise! :) I know you and I are on the same page about a lot of things (maybe why we relate so easily all the time!). I do honor some traditions, but these are the ones that I feel are important to me or my folks (Jeremy doesn’t seem to care one way or another about traditions). The other ones, the silly ones that don’t matter to me, Jeremy, or my parents – I’m happy to let those go (and good riddance!) ;) Love you, lady. xo

    Jill – so true! I think she thinks of our car as “The Satan” now.

    Monica – oh, that’s awesome. Thanks! I’ll keep an eye out for one if she continues on the puke streak, but she managed pretty well on the last 5 hour car ride :) And thanks for the tip on mint.

  7. Irmi says:

    I so agree with you on Thanksgiving: Being thankful and remember those who are less fortunate is the only meaning. Love that you’re thinking like that!
    Such a great shot of that bighorn sheep: Just stunning!

  8. Melissa says:

    Me again. ;) I thought of you over this long weekend. It was my first Thanksgiving ever on which I did not overeat. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t and I didn’t – and nothing feels better than having the integrity to keep my promises to myself. But I also had your words from this post in my head. No stuffing, no gluttony. It’s a terrible tradition and one I hope never to participate in again.

    *Although, full disclosure: when I did “second Thanksgiving” on Saturday I overate on the desserts just a little. I’m not perfect. Yet. ;D

    Love you too! xoxox

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