Vanilla Doughnut Holes
- ¼ ounce (1 envelope; 7g) dry yeast
- ¼ cup (60ml) warm water
- ½ cup (100g) plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
- ½ cup (120ml) soy milk
- 2 tablespoons (28g) margarine, at room temperature for at least 15 minutes
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2¼–2½ cups (280–315g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ cup (100g) plain or colored sugar for dusting doughnuts
- Canola oil for frying
- Round cookie cutters, different sizes
- Rolling pin
- Heavy medium saucepan that can hold 1½ inches (4cm) of oil with space for the oil to bubble up
- Candy thermometer
- Chopsticks or silicone spatula for gently turning the doughnuts
- Slotted spoon to lift doughnuts out of the oil
- Wire rack
- In a large bowl, place the yeast, warm water, and one teaspoon of the sugar and stir. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, or until thick.
- Add the remaining sugar, soy milk, margarine, egg, vanilla, salt, and 1½ cups (190g) flour and mix—either with a wooden spoon or with a dough hook in a stand mixer—on low speed.
- Add ½ cup (65g) more flour and mix in. Add ¼ (30g) cup flour and mix in. If the dough remains sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough becomes smooth.
- Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel and let the dough rise for one hour in a warm place. I use a warming drawer (see Note) on a low setting (about 200°F/90°C), or you can turn your oven on to its lowest setting, place the bowl in the oven, and then turn off the oven.
- After one hour, punch down the dough by folding it over a few times and reshaping it into a ball. Re-cover the dough and let it rise for 10 minutes.
- Dust a cookie sheet with flour. Sprinkle some flour on the counter or on parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it’s about ½-inch (1.25-cm) thick. Using a small round cookie cutter about 1 to 1½ inches (2.5 to 4cm) in diameter, cut out small circles very close to each other and place them on the cookie sheet. Reroll any scraps. Cover the doughnuts with the towel. Place the cookie sheet back in the oven (warm but turned off) or warming drawer. Let the doughnuts rise for 30 minutes.
- Heat 1½ inches (4cm) of oil in a medium saucepan for a few minutes and use a candy thermometer to see when the oil stays between 365°F and 375°F (185°C to 190°C); adjust the flame to keep the oil in that temperature range.
- Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Place a wire rack on top of the cookie sheet and set it near the stovetop.
- When the oil is ready, add the doughnut holes to the oil one at a time, top-side down, putting an edge in first and then sliding in the rest of the doughnut; if you drop the doughnuts into the pan an inch or higher from the oil it can splatter and burn your fingers. You can fry up to eight doughnut holes at a time.
- Cook for 45 to 60 seconds. Use tongs or chopsticks to turn the doughnut holes over and cook them another 45 to 60 seconds, or until golden. Lift with a slotted spoon and place on the wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
- Place the sugar in a shallow bowl and roll the doughnut holes in the sugar to coat. Store covered at room temperature for up to one day and reheat to serve.
- Note: A warming drawer can be built right into your kitchen cabinet. It is ideal for keeping cooked food hot, warming plates, and even proofing bread dough.
Doughnut Making Success
No matter how many commercial doughnuts you have enjoyed in your life, nothing compares to homemade doughnuts. If made properly, fresh doughnuts are never greasy and have a soft bread-like interior. To make healthier doughnuts, any of the doughnuts featured here can be baked in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 20 minutes, rather than fried.
If the oil is the proper temperature, frying seals the outside layer of the doughnut and prevents the oil from seeping in. If the temperature of the oil is too low, it cannot form an exterior seal, resulting in greasy doughnuts that have absorbed too much oil. If the oil is too hot, the outside will burn before the inside is fully cooked and your doughnuts will be gooey and raw inside. Check the oil temperature between batches and adjust heat if necessary.
Best oil for frying: canola, safflower, or peanut
Do not crowd your doughnuts; it causes the oil temperature to drop. Fry no more than six to eight doughnut holes at a time and no more than four or five larger doughnuts in one batch.
While frying doughnuts, stay put and watch them. They can go from perfect to burnt in moments.
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