When I was little, I watched the Donut Man a lot. He had a song… “Life with Jesus, is like a donut, like a donut, like a donut… Life without Jesus, is like a donut… there’s a hole in the middle of your heart!”
It’s a super good song.
KCAM had their Share-a-Thon a few weeks ago. During it, they gave away prizes for answering trivia questions. Some people didn’t come pick up their prizes, so what was left after all this time got to go home with people who work at the station. Sooo… Jonathan, knowing me well, brought home this:
The book sat innocently on top of my microwave with my other recipe books for about a week. But then, The Inevitable happened.
Last night, we watched a movie… and one little scene was of people eating donuts. It triggered something, and Jonathan got a puppy dog look on his face and reminded me of how much he loves chocolate donuts. So off I went to the kitchen to try my hand at donut-making.
People, it was scary. The most basic of basic recipes was incredibly detailed, and said things like “Replace paddle attachment with dough hook, set mixer to low setting, and add one-inch chunks of butter one piece at a time until there are no more lumps. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time until dough pulls away from bowl. Turn mixer to medium setting, and add flour until the dough is soft but not sticky.”
See? DETAILS. I don’t like details. I like the recipes that say things like “mix all ingredients in bowl. Bake.” Sometimes I just do that even if the recipe has more specific instructions. But something told me that that wouldn’t work in this case.
But, not to be deterred by the intricacy of the instructions, I put on my apron and set to work. I decided to try a “basic baked raised donut” with a chocolate glaze. Baked, because:
A. I don’t like frying things
B. I don’t have that much oil
C. maybe it wouldn’t kill us quite as fast as fried donuts.
It was indeed soft but not sticky. Pliable, mushy, and wonderful to work with. Better than play-dough. I wanted to play with it all night. But I resisted. And, per instructions, I put it in a lightly greased mixing bowl, covered it with a “damp tea-towel” (what exactly is a tea towel?), and set out to put it in a warm place.
The problem is that we live in Alaska, and warm places are hard to find. Jonathan suggested I put it in the boiler room. Here’s a fun tidbit:
I’m scared of the boiler room.
It has a giant… machine… in it that makes noises. The floor is gross. The room IS warm, and damp, and with all the buttons and levers and pipes that fill the room, it feels like an explosion is constantly imminent. But I figured my donut dough could survive in there for an hour. So, I tentatively propped my bowl up on a little metal yellow box in there and prayed that nothing would catch on fire.
After an hour, I went to check on the ball of dough that was supposed to have doubled in size.
It had, in fact, NOT double in size. It just sat there, the exact same size it had been an hour ago. I’m not sure why it didn’t raise. True, the recipe called for “1 cup of whole milk, heated to 115 degrees Fahrenheit” and what I actually used was “1 cup of 2% milk, heated in the microwave for 2 minutes and then prayed over.” I don’t know if that’s what did it… maybe it wasn’t quite the right temperature for the yeast. Maybe it was because I used a dish towel instead of a tea towel. Maybe my mixer’s “medium setting” was not “medium” compared to the rest of the world’s mixers. Whatever the case, my dough did not raise.
Hungry and wanting donuts, though, I decided to go ahead with the process.
I rolled out the still-beautiful ball of dough, and then realized that I don’t have a real donut-cutter. Oh well, who really needs their donuts to have holes in them? Christmas-themed donuts would be good, and they can be the Jesus-loving donuts that the Donut Man wished for.
So, out came my handy-dandy Christmas cookie cutters that my mom sent in the mail.
Once they were safely distributed on my parchment-paper lined pan, I dutifully covered them with plastic and waited, once more, for them to “double in size.” And, once more, I returned to them after the allotted time and found that they had not changed sizes at all. Oh well.
The very descriptive recipe book said to bake them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, “until the donuts are a light golden brown, 5-8 minutes, being very careful not to overbake them.” So, once my oven had reached 400 degrees, into the oven they went. And yet another perplexing thing happened. I checked them at five minutes… they were not close to done. At eight minutes, they were still nowhere near golden brown. At ten minutes, they still weren’t done. At twelve minutes, I cut one in half to see if it was baking. It was… sort of. I was afraid to overbake them, since the book said to be “VERY careful,” but I figured I’d take a chance. After a total of seventeen minutes in the oven, I was delighted to see that they were, in fact, light golden brown, and baked through. I pulled them out of the oven, spread them out on the table, and let Jonathan put butter on them while I followed with the chocolate glaze I made while they were baking.
And, surprise… they actually tasted good, despite their inability to raise or bake properly. Fresh out of the oven, they were incredible. Heated up in the microwave this morning, they were still good.
I’ve decided that this is something I want to perfect. I need a thermometer to use for the milk, and I guess I need to buy whole milk. But there are tons of recipes in this book for some pretty cool donuts… everything from chai donuts to margarita donuts. I really want to try the chai… but they call for cardamom. What on earth is cardamom? And, if you’ve ever made donuts, do you have any tips? Can the dough really tell the difference between a tea towel and a dishtowel??