One of my earliest baking memories is making doughnuts. I was in high school at the time. My mother cooked good food, but didn't really like to cook. (She still doesn't.) So, of course, she wasn't very adventuresome and definitely cramped my style. I decided to make doughnuts one day, just because. I had to plan carefully, though, since I knew my mother would nix the whole project.
One summer day, she decided to go shopping in downtown Seattle. I made my excuses not to go, since secretly, I had other plans. Now, my mother learned to drive later in life, so driving into Seattle on her own was not an option. We were lucky to have public transportation in our neighborhood, and the bus stopped directly in front of our house. Lucky for me! I could watch as she left, and watch as she returned.
Upon her departure, I sprung into action, gathering up ingredients and equipment. I used a simple cake doughnut recipe and my mother's electric Corningware skillet so I could easily monitor the temperature of the oil. Well, all went fine -- I didn't even burn the house down. When she returned from her shopping trip, she walked into a spotlessly clean kitchen containing a big pile of fresh doughnuts and was amazed. From that moment on, she never discouraged me from my culinary experimentations.
So, in honor of my past and my mother and to celebrate Doughnut Day, hosted by Peabody and Helene, I have, once again, drug out the electric Corningware skillet (yes, I own it now, a thousand years later) and made doughnuts, a bit more sophisticated than the first ones but just as delicious.
5 ounces (125 g) milk
2 ounces (50 g) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 ounces (75 g) bread flour
4 ounces (100 g) eggs (about 2 large eggs)
In a saucepan, heat the milk, butter, salt, and sugar until the sugar dissolves and the butter is melted.
Bring to a rapid boil, then remove from heat. Add the flour all at once and beat in vigorously with a wooden spoon.
Set the pan over medium heat and beat the mixture for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, and lightly coats the bottom of the pan.
Transfer the mixture to a stainless steel mixing bowl and cool slightly.
Add the eggs, one at time, beating well between additions.
Place the dough in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
Fry the doughnuts in one of two ways:
1. Pipe the mixture directly into a deep fryer heated to 370-375 degrees, cutting off the dough in 3-inch (7-8 cm) pieces, using a knife dipped in hot fat. Fry until puffed and golden. Drain on paper.
2. Pipe 2-inch (5 cm) circles onto parchment paper. Freeze. Fry the frozen units as in #1.
Tips: For the dough, I might suggest add some grated lemon zest for a nice touch.
When frying the doughnuts, place them into the hot fat upside down. This will preserve the ridges from the star tip. After all that piping, you don't want them to disappear!
Drain on racks, set upside down on newspaper, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and/or cinnamon sugar.
I've served them with some pineapple-coconut ice cream and a splash of powdered sugar. Thanks to Peabody and Helene for a delicious event.
PS: While I was making these this morning, my favorite radio station was playing music devoted to Paris. How appropriate!