Back when I first started this blog…almost ten months ago (crazy!), I wrote about one of my favorite kid traditions on a snow day. Snow Day Donuts are the donuts that I make just about once a year. I don’t own any fancy donut equipment or even a deep fryer, so these donuts can be made using the things that I have in my own kitchen. Typically on the first snow day of a year when school is cancelled and there is palpable excitement in the air…we play in the snow, drink cocoa, make donuts and share with our friends and neighbors.
A Weird Year
This year, thanks to COVID, the kids are doing virtual school and we aren’t having friends over right now. This would have been one of those easy traditions to by-pass…but the fact that our first big snow landed on the 1st of December was too magical to miss. We mixed up our donut dough, welcomed our Elf on the Shelf, went sledding, ate far too many donuts and fit in our virtual classes for the day. Whew! And I’m glad we kept the tradition alive this year, even if it wasn’t quite the same.
Plan for about 3-4 hours
This donut dough is very good. It is light, airy and easy to work with. It does take time for the dough to rise, and the frying process takes a little extra involvement too. Plan for about 20 minutes to mix up the dough, then a rise of 1-1 1/2 hours. Cutting out the donut shapes takes another 20 minutes and then another hour rise before frying. I usually whip up the dough while the kids are putting on their snow clothes and let it rise for our first venture in the snow. Then I’ll come back in and cut out the shapes with whoever has had enough of the cold for the time being. All the kids come in for frying/topping. I have actually been eyeing a donut recipe that refrigerates the dough overnight, which I think would give an even better-tasting donut. With that said, I never know if we are going to have a snow day…it’s usually not called until the morning of, so those recipes wouldn’t work well for our snow day tradition. Instead we stick with this recipe, our tried and true favorite that is ready to fry when the kids come in from playing in the snow.
Use What You Have
I am a big proponent of using what I have in the kitchen and not buying a new appliance unless I really think I’ll use it a lot. In the case of donuts, I just don’t make them all that often. I typically make donuts about once a year…on the first snow day of the year. So I don’t have a fryer or donut cutters. I’ve found that plastic tops to water bottles work really well for cutting out the center of the donuts. I also use the lid of a canning jar to cut out the donut shape. Round cookie cutters work well too. Just make sure to press down hard.
Donut Holes, Filled Donuts and Apple Fritters
Once the dough is rolled out, it shouldn’t be re-rolled. If you want to make filled donuts, I take a little bit of the dough, roll it up into a ball and let it rise. Once it is fried, we fill them with frosting, jam or any creamy filing you want. When cutting the donuts out, cut as close together as possible to use up all the dough. I use a large cap to cut out donut holes from the scraps of dough, and when there is no more dough to cut out, with just scraps left over, I cut up an apple and make some apple fritters. The process for this is pretty easy:
- Break the scraps of dough into small pieces (using a knife or pulling pieces apart with your fingers so there aren’t long stringy pieces).
- Dice an apple (I like Granny Smith) and add it to the scraps of dough along with some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of lemon juice.
- Scoop handfuls of the mixture together and squeeze together, forming a ball-like shape.
- Set aside to rise a bit.
- After you have fried all the donuts, fry the apple fritters (invariably apple pieces will get into the oil).
- Cover with glaze after they cool just a bit.
I don’t fry very many things and guess what? I don’t usually use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil. This goes back to using what I have. Instead I like to heat my oil up to medium heat (365 degrees F is what you’re shooting for if you use a thermometer), throw in a little donut hole and watch it. That donut hole will tell me if my oil is hot enough and ready for my donuts. It will also tell me if I need to turn the temperature up or down a little bit. If the donut hole takes forever to turn brown, turn the heat up. If it browns too quickly, turn it down. The donut hole should sizzle with little bubbles forming around it and take about 30-45 seconds to brown on one side. Once that happens, I know I can start frying my donuts. Donuts take about 1-2 minutes per side, then flip to cook on the other side. Be careful about adding more oil to your pot or skillet. If you add more oil, it will cool down your oil and you will need to re-heat it to the correct temperature before continuing to fry your donuts.
Glaze and Toppings
My kids’ favorite part of making donuts is the toppings. We set up different glazes and sprinkles and let the kids go to town! I have recipes listed for a traditional glaze, chocolate glaze and a maple glaze. All are wonderful on their own and all are great topped with sprinkles. I’m dreaming of topping the maple donut with crispy bacon, that glaze is so good! However you top them, these donuts are best eaten warm. For donuts that are made the same day…these can’t be beat. I hope you enjoy them on a snow day or any day that calls for a homemade donut.
Snow Day Donuts
- 430 grams whole milk, warmed 1 3/4 cup, warmed (90-100 degrees F)
- 20 grams instant yeast 2 Tablespoons
- 110 grams granulated sugar 1/2 cup
- 10 grams salt 2 teaspoons
- 2 eggs about 100 grams
- 65 grams shortening, melted 1/3 cup, or unsalted butter
- 875 grams bread flour 5.5-6 cups flour, see recipe note
- 48 ounces vegetable oil shortening works well here too
- Scraps of Donut Dough
- 1 Granny Smith apple chopped
- 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Powdered Sugar Glaze
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream or milk thinned to your liking
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted semi-sweet is my favorite
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons water
- pinch of salt
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
- pinch of salt
- various sprinkles
- Warm the milk (around 90-100 degrees F) and pour into a stand mixer. Add the yeast and sugar. Smell for the yeasty smell that tells you your yeast is active.
- Next add the salt, eggs and melted shortening (make sure it's not too hot–over 120 degrees–so it won't kill the yeast).
- Add most of the flour and turn the mixer on. Continue mixing while adding flour a little at a time until dough is tacky but clearing the sides of the bowl.
- Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. Check out this post for tips on how to know when the dough is ready. Add extra flour a Tablespoon at a time if needed.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- On a very lightly floured surface (you may not need any flour at all), dump the dough out and roll out until about 1/4 inch thick.
- Use a circle cutter or the top of a mason jar or bowl to cut out donuts. Cut out a small circle in the center of the donut and transfer to a baking sheet to rise.
- Cut out donut holes and make apple fritters with the donut scraps if desired (instructions for the apple fritters are in the blog post).
- Let rise again until puffy and almost doubled in size.
- Heat 48 ounces of oil in a large pot or skillet. Keep the temperature steady and around medium heat.
- Toss a small donut hole into the oil when you start to see bubbles and watch how long it takes the donut hole to fry. If it starts sizzling, bubbling and takes about 30-45 seconds to brown on one side before flipping it to the other side, your oil is ready to fry donuts in. If you add more oil, that will change the temperature of the oil and you will need to use another "donut hole tester."
- Fry the donuts a few at a time for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown.
- Remove donuts from the hot oil onto a baking rack. Let cool for a few minutes before dipping in glaze, toppings and sprinkles. Enjoy warm!
- For the glaze, melt together the ingredients and whisk together. If the glaze hardens before or during the process warm it up and, thin out with a bit of milk.