Sticking with the Classics – Homemade Yeast Doughnuts

For some reason, I’m very intrigued by doughnuts, especially the specialty doughnuts that Doughnut Plant or Dynamo Donuts sell. It’s a bit weird since I don’t really like eating doughnuts. My dad was part of a doughnut club at his work and would have to buy bagels and doughnuts once every two months for it. I remember I always preferred the bagels over the doughnuts, which were too sweet and oily. However, I do have to admit that soft, fluffy glazed doughnuts (i.e. those from Krispy Kreme) are delicious.

My interest in doughnuts has led to an itching desire to make homemade doughnuts. But the act of deep-frying always scared me off. I recently decided to suck up my fear and finally make doughnuts for a welcome brunch my housemates and I hosted a few weeks ago. I figured it was the perfect event to try since everyone loves doughnuts and I wouldn’t be stuck with leftovers. I was so excited about making doughnuts that I bought a doughnut cutter!

Making doughnuts is pretty easy and all the recipes are basically the same. The dough is super simple and you just need to cut out doughnut shapes, then fry them, and glaze/decorate them. However, let me warn you, cutting out the doughnuts is extremely tedious. Since I was making food for at least 40 people, I made a large batch of dough. Little did I know just how many doughnuts it would yield. I probably spent 1-1.5 hours just cutting out circles of dough and then cutting out the doughnut holes. I ended up cutting out way more than 40 doughnuts. Luckily, unfried doughnuts can be frozen.

The only difficulty with doughnuts is that they are best when served hot and freshly fried. Now, that is perfectly fine when you’re only making a dozen. But when you’re making at least three dozen, it’s a bit harder serving them fresh. Thankfully, my housemates were wonderful in helping me. One of them did all the frying while another one made all the glazes. And a third housemate helped me glaze and decorate the doughnuts. It was pretty hectic but we managed to get the doughnuts out hot and fresh.

Despite all the craziness, the hard work was all worth it. When I brought the doughnuts out, everyone was so impressed and praised how beautiful they were. Here’s a life tip: putting sprinkles on doughnuts is definitely one of the best things you can do.

I would have liked to make some doughnuts with crazy flavors, but since I was cooking for about 40 people, I decided it’d be better to play it safe and make classic yeast doughnuts with the standard glazes: plain, chocolate, and maple. Even though I prefer the more exotic, non-traditional dishes and flavors, I have to admit that the classics can be pretty awesome too. And these doughnuts definitely confirmed that. It’s like what people say, when you’ve found a good thing, you don’t mess with it. (Or at least leave it to the pros to do that).

*Another photography tangent: How about these non-instagram photos (well, except for one… I couldn’t resist :P)?! My friend recently bought a Nikon DSLR and snapped up a few photos of the doughnuts for me. They look amazing! So clean and crisp. The quality really makes me want to invest in a DSLR (I’d buy a Canon)!

Homemade Yeast Doughnuts
Adapted from The Doughmesstic

1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/3 stick melted butter (not hot, just melted)
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying

1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to rest around 10 minutes or until foamy.
2. Mix the milk, sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla in a bowl.
3. Add the yeast mixture and stir.
4. Combine the flour and salt. Add the flour in 1 cup increments to the liquid mixture and mix until dough comes together. (You may use more or less flour than specified in the recipe.)
5. Knead the dough until smooth and place dough in a greased bowl.
6. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
7. Roll out dough to 1/3 in. thick and cut out doughnuts with a doughnut cutter or two biscuit or cookie cutters.
8. Place doughnuts on cookie sheets with parchment paper and let rise for at least 15 min.
9. Heat oil to 350-360F and carefully drop doughnuts in one at a time. Let each side cook until golden brown. Cooking time will vary based on the heat of your oil, but 15 seconds per side worked for me.  Remove doughnuts from the oil and pat with paper towels.
10. While they are still hot, dip the doughnuts in the glaze and decorate with sprinkles!
11. Serve immediately! Your guests will thank you. 🙂

This post has been Yeastspotted.

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Bits and Bites – Homemade Pretzel Bites (and Pretzels)

One of my first endeavors at baking with yeast was homemade pretzel bites, using this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. The recipe had pretty simple ingredients, so I thought it wouldn’t be too bad. However, I overlooked the part where you need to boil the dough in a baking soda solution. Now, if you made regular sized pretzels with this dough, boiling wouldn’t be too bad. But if you decide to make pretzel bites, well, that’s another story. This dough makes A LOT of pretzel bites. I never counted how many, but it definitely was close to 100.

The most difficult part of the recipe, in my opinion, was boiling the dough, then transferring them to the baking sheet, sprinkling them with salt, and putting them into the oven as fast as you could. That’s a lot of steps to do in a short amount of time. After making probably 100 bites, I surrendered and made regular pretzels so I’d use up the dough faster. Shaping the dough into pretzel shapes was actually a lot of fun. If you want to bake with your kids, I definitely recommend making pretzels. They’ll really enjoy it. 🙂

These pretzel bites were such a hit! My friends were amazed that I made them myself and several of them asked me for the recipe. If you’re in the mood for baking something a bit more savory, I definitely recommend making pretzels. They’re pretty simple and delicious!

Just a few notes: 1) I noticed though was that if you boil the dough in the baking soda solution too long, the pretzels taste a bit like baking soda. 2) When sprinkling the bites/pretzels with salt, add a lot more than you think you should. The salt falls off easily, so the pretzels aren’t that salty. 3) If you decide to sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar (like I tried), do this after they’re baked. If you sprinkle them before, the sugar might burn!

Soft Pretzels
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

1. Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined (or if you don’t have a dough hook like me, do it the old-fashioned way – by hand!) Let sit for 5 minutes. (I proofed the yeast separately, just with warm water and sugar.) 

2. Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

3. Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

5. Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan (I used a pot) over high heat and add the baking soda.

6. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. (Or shape the dough into pretzels!)

7. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. Boil for about 30 seconds. (Make sure you don’t leave them in for too long!) Remove with a large slotted spoon.

8. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.

9. Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating.

This post has been Yeastpotted.