Snow Day Doughnuts

I grew up in an area of the United States where we didn’t have many (or any!) snow days. When we moved to Kentucky and my kids started school, I couldn’t believe the amount of snow days they had – for an area that typically doesn’t get much snow! If we get any little bit of snow (or sometimes even a forecast for snow), school is often cancelled. Our area of Kentucky has lots of small country roads, a small amount of equipment to deal with snow and it’s not safe for school busses to travel in those conditions. I had previously taught school in Utah where we had many feet of snow every school year and never had a snow day once. This was a big change!

The amount of snow we get on a typical snow day…

Our first year in Kentucky we implemented a family tradition to help us look forward to the beginning of “snow day” season and the fun it can bring. Enter: Snow Day Doughnuts! My kids look forward to this tradition every year now and are always begging for snow long before it’s in the forecast.

Snow Day Doughnut!

A little superstition for you: In Kentucky, the night before snow is predicted in the weather forecast, kids come home from school and do these three things:

  1. Put a spoon under your pillow
  2. Wear your pajamas inside out
  3. Flush three ice cubes down the toilet

Kids head to bed and pray that tomorrow will bring snow. 

Two boys praying for no school: inside out pajamas, spoon under pillow…and they did flush 3 ice cubes down the toilet too!

For my kids the first snow day of the year is particularly special. Not only do we have a day off school and snow to play in, but we make Snow Day Doughnuts! This is the one time a year we try our hand at making doughnuts…fun for everyone. An enriched dough (that means butter, egg, and milk or fat) that is fried and dipped in icing? Sign me up!!! 

I usually research a few recipes the week before it calls for the first snow (thank you Google) and make sure I have the ingredients on hand. We mix up the dough in the morning, play in the snow for an hour while it rises and then come inside to cut out the shapes we want to make. It’s usually a combination of regular round doughnuts, doughnut holes and filled doughnuts. 

Making lots of shapes for our doughnuts

A few words of caution:

  1. When you roll your dough out, be strategic and use up as much space as you can the first time. Doughnut dough doesn’t do very well being smooshed back together to roll out again (not like sugar cookies).
  2. You don’t need a doughnut cutter, a round glass works well. We’ve found the cap of a plastic water bottle is also great for cutting the hole out of the center of the doughnut.
  3. Make your “scraps” into doughnut holes OR roll them together to form a roll shape for a “filled” doughnut–they may look a little craggy, but they will taste good.

The kids go out to play again while the doughnuts rise a second time, and I text friends and neighbors to invite them to a doughnut and hot chocolate party at our house. I really think this is one of my kids favorite days of the year. After a few times sledding down the neighborhood hill, a couple snowball fights, snow angels, you name it, the kids start straggling in.

Gotta love that Kentucky snow 🙂

I keep a pot of hot chocolate on one burner and hot oil on the second. As the oil heats, I test a few of the doughnut holes and try to keep the temperature steady. If they burn quickly you’ll know you need to lower the temperature. If they take too long to fry (longer than 30 seconds per side) you’ll know to turn the heat up.

Cocoa and doughnuts…makes for the perfect first snow day of the year!

Once your doughnuts are fried, it’s time for the fun part. Toppings!!! We whipped up some vanilla icing and chocolate icing and put out a bunch of sprinkles for kids to go crazy with. There’s nothing better on the first snow day of the year than a fresh, home-made doughnut and a cup of hot chocolate…except for sharing it with friends that is!

Did you have snow days as a kid? What is your favorite snow day tradition?

Flour, Water, Yeast & Salt

Why I love bread and why I want to share that love with you

When I was a child I used to dream about bread. My obsession probably began living in Germany at a young age with a “Baeckerei” around every corner. Fresh baked bread was so delightful with a pat of butter (unsalted all the way). I loved picking up a local “broetchen” (small, circular German bread roll), adding my favorite cheese and going to town. My mom would pack my lunchbox with daily salami and butter sandwiches on crusty bread and to this day it’s one of my go-to comfort foods. 

Me (right) with my sister in our dirndls, as children living in Germany
Brotchen and Butterkaese, my favorite comfort food

As I aged I started my own culinary journey. I was mesmerized by the simplicity of flour, water, salt and yeast. I spent countless hours making homemade pizza on a rectangular baking sheet, dissecting my family’s ancient bread machine and mixing up creations in my childhood kitchen. My best friend and I had dreams of opening our own bakery by the ocean one day…oh the dreams of a teenager! 

Crazy teenager…heading to college 🙂

When I was in college, baking took a bit of a back seat to my studies, but I never lost the desire to bake and create even in a little dorm kitchen (banana bread anyone?!). I married shortly before graduating and then the real fun began…setting up my own kitchen and learning how to bake when I wasn’t teaching elementary school. We welcomed our daughter over ten years ago and I quit my day-job for a new day-job with her at home. My daughter was not quite two when we moved away from family and the western United States to begin a new adventure in Kentucky; the beautiful Bluegrass region.

Shortly after we were blessed with twin boys and even though we survived off freezer meals for the first year of their lives (luckily I have photos to remember that time…everything is so hazy), I continued baking. I spent hours willing my twins to sleep while researching how to grow my own natural leaven and then baking loaf after loaf of sourdough bread with toddlers running between my legs. I started teaching my kids the wonderful world of flour, water, yeast and salt as we created loaves and gifted them to those we loved or knew could use a pick-me-up. This small act of service helped us make friends and feel at home in our new state.

Our young family was given the opportunity to live abroad in Japan and we learned so much from the beautiful culture, kind people and opportunities to travel. We sampled delicious pastries, breads and treats from Japanese bakeries and learned to love rice, noodles and fish. I navigated the world of “hard and soft” flour and learned how to bake a batch of cookies using Japanese ingredients (lots of consumed cookie dough in that trial and error process). My bread baking days took quite the back seat for the year and a half we lived abroad because ingredients were so hard to come by, not to mention $$$. We welcomed our final baby boy during our last few months in Japan and celebrated with delicious naan bread from our favorite local Indian restaurant. 

Moving back to Kentucky brought new challenges with growing kids, making friends, a new house and teaching my kids to love whole wheat everything again; in Japan it was hard to come by. We spent our first summer with the kids out of school baking together every week and I taught my kids the basics: how to smell the ripeness of the yeast, where our flour comes from (our local mill) and how to knead a loaf of bread. Passing this tradition of bread baking to my kids and tasting the love from the hands that have kneaded and worked the bread is part of what makes bread so comforting. Bread takes time. Time to mix. Time to knead. Time to rise. Time to shape. Time to bake. Relationships take time.

Which brings me to today. Why start a blog today? 

My goal is to share with you tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way, and am continuing to learn, and empower you wherever you may fall on the baking spectrum–novice to expert. Get in the kitchen. Grab some flour, water, yeast and salt, and bake. Bake with your kids, your families, your significant other or by yourself. Create the memories. Make the messes and enjoy the experience of a fresh-baked loaf of bread. Ask questions and follow along as we use this space to share recipes, memories, tips, traditions and culture around a little bit of flour, water, yeast and salt.

Happy Baking