Best Donuts Ever: A Family Tradition

Today is the fourth day of Hanukkah. It has been a wonderful holiday so far and we are only in the middle! Part of what has made this holiday so special has been the two wonderful parties attended this weekend. And, the homemade donuts I made with my roommate.

While planning for Friday’s Hanukkah Party, a friend of mine and I discussed important food groups to bring for the event, including Sufganiot (Hebrew for Jelly Donut). She asked, “Well, can you make them?” The idea had never crossed my mind. I figured I’d go to a bakery or Dunkin Donuts and pick some up. But, why, I wondered, was I so afraid of donuts?

I asked my roommate if she had any ideas. She said to me via email: “If you’d rather stick with a recipe you’ve already chosen, I totally understand, but below is my great grandmother’s donut recipe.”

How could you possibly go with another source if you have a family heirloom recipe?

We made them on Fri. night and again on Sat. Not only were they amazing (best donuts ever), they were a huge hit with all the guests at both parties and were surprisingly easy to make. Here is the recipe. Please try it! It is fun and a great way to impress friends and party-goers.

Best Donuts Ever (aka Annie Erie’s Donuts, from my roommate’s great-grandmother Annie Erie)

What You Need
– 1 yeast cake (we defined this as 1 tablespoon yeast)
– 2-3 tablespoons warm water
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (use a bit less)
– 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 egg
– 1 1/4 cups scalded milk (just heat it up in a small pot until it starts to steam)
– 4 1/2 cups flour
– 3 tablespoons butter
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1.5 pints peanut oil (for frying but Annie Erie says “deep fat”)
– 1/2 cup sugar for coating (add more as needed, you can also add a dash of cinnamon here too)

What You Do

1. Heat up the milk.
2. Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water.
3. When milk is steaming, remove from heat and add to bowl. Let cool until lukewarm (you don’t want to kill your yeast).
4. Add 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast mixture and beat well.
5. Let rise until bubbles burst on top (5 minutes). We didn’t see many bubbles burst but we moved ahead after 5 minutes.
6. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar.
7. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and egg and beat well.
8. Add the creamed mixture to the batter and beat well (again!)
9. Add remaining flour and knead for 2 minutes.
10. Let rise 1 hour.
11. Roll dough to about 1/2 inch thick.
12. Cut dough into desired size and shape. We used small wine glasses to cut out small circles. To make the jelly donuts we took two circles and put jelly on one and covered it up (making a jelly sandwich). We then pinched the sides to close the donut. With the remaining dough, we made small round balls (which turn into donut holes). You can play with this and actually made donuts with holes in them (move out of the way Dunkin Donuts!) by making a circle and cutting out a hole in the middle.

13. Let rise again for 30 minutes.
14. Heat up all the oil on medium heat in a small dutch oven.
15. “Fry in deep fat”. Which means add one or two donuts (when the oil gets really hot, you can add 3-4 at a time) into hot oil and then let them get golden brown on all sides. Sometimes they will turn over on their own, but you may have to move them around.

16. When golden, remove from oil and let drain on a cooling rack (wire-mesh rack). It’s a good idea to put something under the rack to catch the oil.
17. When cool(ish), shake in a bag of sugar (we used a plastic container). You can use powdered sugar, regular sugar, or a cinnamon and sugar mixture! We used regular sugar on the jelly donuts and a cinnamon and sugar mixture on the donut holes.

Share with friends and family this holiday season! Also, don’t forget to save your oil for another frying adventure.

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