Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The next generation of holiday foods

"Nana, what's this?"

The funny looking tool must have hung on the wall next to the stove since before I was born. But I don't think I noticed it until I was in college.

Can we agree that it's funny looking?
It's a dougnut cutter.

It is genius. I'm not sure how the fancy cooking gadgetry shops aren't selling these en masse throughout the holiday season. (I found one British site that has something, but it's missing the hole.)

1) It's a super-fun tool.
2) But it is mostly single use.
3) That would pair well with specialty sugars and glaze mixes and decorating supplies and whatever the hot doughnut cookbook is that season. (Actually, edit, is there a hot doughnut cookbook? Liz, we could propose a cookbook! That sounds like a great post-graduation career plan, right? ... Scopes out the competition. Top Pot published something three years ago. Maybe I'll stick with Plan A after all.)

Anyway.

The photos aren't date-stamped, but we think we made doughnuts with Nana the last Christmas in the house.

Elizabeth and I agreed then that we'd probably argue over who got the doughnut cutter when we divided the kitchen. Especially since I haven't had much success finding a similar cutter. Even in the internet age. Refer to my tangent.

This fall we sat on the apartment floor sorting. You take the cookie sheets. I get the silverware. Do either of us have space for the stand mixer? These baby pie plates are so cute!

We stared at each other when this came up. And then mom swooped in and claimed it.

Which obviously means that this was the Christmas for making doughnuts at mom's house. We pulled out the community cookbook, decided that 4.5 cups of flour was probably more than we needed and scaled down.


 


Doughnuts (makes not quite a dozen)
1/2 cup milk
4 teaspoons shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 packet yeast
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
dash nutmeg
1.5 - 2.5 cups flour, divided
Lots of oil for frying
Powdered sugar + spices for dusting

Scald the milk. Add the shortening and salt.
When it's cool enough, add the yeast and a cup of flour. Mix well. Then let the dough proof for 15 minutes "until full of bubbles."
Meanwhile mix the egg, sugar, and nutmeg. When the dough is ready, add the egg mixture and another half cup flour. Add flour by the half cup until it's kneadable. Then knead.
Let the dough rise for about an hour.
Turn out on a lightly floured board and roll. The recipe says 3/4 inch thick, but since we were making a third of the recipe we were closer to 1/4 inch thick.
(No, that wasn't the actual logic. Yes, that was the actual measurements.)
Cover with cloth and let rise "until top is springy to touch of finger."
Heat oil to 350-375ºF. (Our stove was finicky, so we kept turning the heat on and off to maintain the right temperature when we were frying. The candy thermometer was critical for this.)
Drop a doughnut into the hot fat with the raised side down. This lets the top side rise while the other side cooks. Fry for about a minute. Flip. Fry other side for a minute. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.
To dust with powdered sugar, put the sugar in a small paper bag. Put in 3 doughnuts at a time to shake, shake, shake.




~~~
Other cooking this holiday season:

Cheese straws and lady fingers a la Grandma Gerri

Chocolate Orange Peels. This year mostly following this post. Hot tip was to blanch the peels when they're in large sections and then cut into small strips before the candying process. Other experiment, when I ran out of chocolate chips, I tossed the rest in cocoa powder (this year was super sticky). Chocolate is better.

And I didn't cook them, but did get the recipe for Grandmom's Sausage Balls.


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