Guys, I'm gonna be honest with you: after baking those citrus cornmeal cupcakes, I haven't come near my oven since. I'm still a little bit scarred by how much of massive downgrade my new oven is. The thought of baking a cake, or really, anything, just makes me a little bit depressed.
But today is NATIONAL DONUT DAY. And thankfully, you don't need to use an oven to make donuts, nope. Just some flour, sugar, a cast iron skillet and a crap-ton of oil, and VOILA! One of the best treats known to man:
Okay, technically, these are donut holes, I know, I know. Silly me decided that my donut cutter wasn't worth bringing to San Francisco, and decided to pack it away in storage back in Portland (what a mistake that was!). And here's something even worse that might actually disqualify these from National Donut Day — they're not even made with yeast. Hey! Cut me some slack — on the weekend I made these, I was headed to New York City for Saveur Magazine's Best Food Blog Awards ceremony. Ain't got no time to sit around and wait for yeast to rise, nope. So instead, I used a hacky, brilliant quickbread recipe from the deep annals of my recipe archive that yields buttermilk donut holes with a tender, open crumb and a crispy, golden exterior.
And while each donut hole was still warm, I dunked them in a glaze made of healthy portions of local honey and St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur. If you haven't tasted elderflower before, I highly recommend it — elderflowers come from the same family as honeysuckle and have a wonderfully fruity, and almost lychee-like flavor. But be warned! There's a generous amount of St. Germain in the glaze, so these donuts would make for a boozy breakfast treat. Especially when paired with champagne. I may or may not be speaking from experience.
And a big thanks to always lovely and adorable Melissa of The Faux Martha for rounding us fine blogging guys and gals up for National Donut Day. For more donut recipes, be sure to check out our National Donut Day site and the hashtag #nationaldonutday!
Some baker's notes:
- Donuts are almost often made with a bread dough, which is usually risen with yeast. Quickbread recipes, on the other hand, usually aim to yield the same type of texture as a yeast-leavened good, but use baking powder or baking soda as a leavening agent instead. And while this recipe is awesome because it takes around 15 minutes to come together (as to my standby brioche donut recipe, in which the dough needs to be chilled for around 3 hours), it does mean that the donut holes go stale faster because quickbreads really don't keep as well as yeasted ones. These are best fresh and still warm from the fryer, and tend to get soggy and stale the longer they sit around.
- Remember that you don't need a deep fryer to make donuts. I actually have a deep fryer, but prefer to use a cast iron skillet to fry donuts since I feel like it's safer and easier to clean. Make sure your pot is deep enough to hold at least 2 inches of oil, with at least 2 inches of clearance from the top of the pot. You also don't really need a candy thermometer, but it makes your life a lot easier if you've got one.
For the Buttermilk Donut Holes:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- vegetable oil, for frying (around 2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons St. Germain (or other elderflower liqueur)
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- In a small bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup whole milk, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/ cup granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract until just combined.
- Sprinkle the dry ingredients (from the 1st step) over the wet ingredients (from the 2nd step) and use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to overmix, or you will get dense, hard donut holes and I will cry for you! So don't be alarmed if the dough seems a little gummy and sticky — that's exactly what you want.
- Prepare your cast iron skillet/deep fryer and preheat the vegetable oil you'll be using for frying. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the oil's heat; once the oil reaches 350 (F), we're good to go!
- Use a 1 tablespoon-sized cookie scoop to measure out 1 tablespoon of dough. The cookie scoop should, by default, make a round shape so there's no need to roll the dough into balls (unless you are a stickler and want perfectly round donuts — but I didn't do any rolling and my balls turned out okay). Drop 3 or 4 dough balls into the pan containing the preheated oil. Fry until golden brown on the bottom, before using a spatula to flip each hole and cooking on its reverse side until golden brown.
- Once the donut holes are finished frying, carefully remove each with metal tongs or a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Repeat until all the dough has been used up.
- Once all the donut holes have been fried, quickly make the elderflower and honey glaze. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons St. Germain, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 tablespoon milk by whisking together until you get a smooth, pourable glaze.
- Use a fork or a skewer to dunk each warm donut hole into the glaze, really giving the donut hole a good swirl in the bowl in order for it to catch as much glaze as it possibly can. Transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet to catch any excess drippings, before enjoying immediately. Preferably with a glass of champagne.