Do you hear that? The birds chirping and angels singing in delight because the most joyous and delicious of occasions is soon upon us: National Doughnut Day.
Celebrated the first Friday in June, this foodie holiday is much more than a stunt, as its origin holds a sweet place in U.S. history.
National Doughnut Day was created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served doughnuts to the soldiers during World War I. Known as the Doughnut Lassies, they’re often credited for the doughnut popularity that swept the nation.
Serving along the frontline trenches, the Lassies, and their doughnuts, were a nice break from the atrocities of war.
The doughnuts, made with limited ingredients and often fried in soldiers’ helmets, brought comfort and lifted spirits with each warm bite.
While this recipe definitely brings simple flavors, comfort and belly-warming cheer, it doesn’t call for helmets. With a fluffy, brioche-like texture and sweetened vanilla glaze, it’s one truly great and classic doughnut.
And if the thought of making homemade doughnuts intimidates you, I will say – while they’re a bit of a project – they’re easier than you think.
Just be gentle, and quick handling of the dough after its first rise is a must, as it is full of gases that accumulate from proofing, giving the doughnut its light and airy bite.
If you don’t have a doughnut cutter, any glass or wide-mouth canning ring, about 3 inches in diameter, will work. For the hole, try the wide end of a piping tip.
The glaze is simple: powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. If you’re a chocolate lover, add 1/4 cup of cocoa powder to the recipe along with a tablespoon or two more of milk.
A light dusting of powdered sugar or dip in a cinnamon and sugar blend would be delectable, too.
Adapted from allrecipes.com
1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 (0.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons total)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil for frying
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
Pink food coloring (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or mixing bowl, combine the 1 tablespoon of sugar and warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture and let it stand for 5 minutes or until foamy.
Add the milk, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 2 cups of flour. Mix on low speed until combined, then beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time. Dough will be slightly sticky but should pull from the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Transfer dough into a greased bowl, cover and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll out until it is 1/2- to 1/3-inch thick. Cut out doughnuts with a floured doughnut cutter and place them and doughnut holes on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover loosely with a cloth and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Doughnuts will be airy and puffy looking.
To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk in a medium bowl and mix until smooth. Stir in the food coloring if using. Set aside.
Heat the oil to 365-375 degrees in a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
Cooking in batches, use a wide spatula to carefully slide doughnuts into the hot oil. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown, about 45 seconds to 1 minute per side. The doughnut holes will cook faster. Remove doughnuts with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined wire rack to drain.
Once they’re slightly cooled, dip doughnuts into the glaze and place on a wire rack set on a baking sheet to catch the drips. Immediately top with sprinkles before glaze sets, if using.
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