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Buttermilk Donuts with Orange and Cinnamon
We don’t need to tell you why donuts are delicious, you already fucking know.
You were born knowing why donuts are delicious. The empirical fact that donuts are the most perfect food in the world is hard-wired into your DNA. Even terrible donuts— the hockey pucks full of synthetic tasting goop and weird greasy crullers— are pretty OK, but no donut is better than the sweet, carb-y comfort of one that’s homemade.
Making donuts at home can seem a little intimidating but, if you can make biscuits or fry a piece of chicken, you’ve already mastered all the skills you need. Our only suggestions are 1) use common sense around shit that can deep fry your face and 2) read the recipe all the way through once or twice before you get going, because a little organization goes a long, long way.
Outside of our kitchen, a classic raised donut is our favorite. They’re tender and light, with a complex, toasty sweetness that’s not too sugary. But, because they rely on yeast for leavening, they aren’t always super easy to work with. Cake donuts, on the other hand, are baking powder leavened and pretty much idiot proof. But with instant gratification comes sacrifice in the texture department: they’re a little dry and can get greasy.
This particular recipe is unique (and our favorite) because it lives in a world between the two. Our donuts get most of their lift from chemical leaveners like a cake donut, but call for some yeast to fill in the gaps and make them taste extra, well, donutty. To help mimic the creamy, dreamy, melt in your mouth texture of a raised, we add plenty of buttermilk to help tenderize the flour and keep things from drying out.
Buttermilk Donuts with Orange and Cinnamon
adapted from seriouseats.com
- 1/4 sour cream
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour— plus another cup, or so, for dusting your board
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Zest of 1 Orange
- 1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 extra-large egg
- 2 extra-large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Juice of 1 Orange (like the one whose zest you stuck in the batter)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
You Will Also Need
- 4-6 cups Oil for frying— we love deep frying sweets in Coconut Oil because you can heat it forever and it makes your whole house smell like generic suntan lotion, in a very, very good way, without imparting too much flavor to your food.
- Cast Iron Skillet or Sturdy Dutch Oven— your non-stick stuff won’t cut it.
- Large Slotted Spoon
- A Donut Partner
- Paper Towels
- Wire Cooling Rack
Makes 12-24 donuts.
Gently warm the Sour Cream in a sauce pan. Combine all of the dry ingredients, except for the Yeast, in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the Yeast into the well, followed by the warm (but not hot) Sour Cream to bring those little leavening critters back to life. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
After the batter comes together, things start to happen quickly. While the Sour Cream and Yeast do their thing, get your shit ready. Beat the Buttermilk, Egg, Egg Yolks, and Vanilla together. Wash and dry a spot on your counter top, lightly flour it, and set aside a bowl with about a cup of flour. Get the Oil ready in your Cast Iron skillet- you want your skillet to be no more than halfway full but can put a full three inches in if you’re using a dutch oven. Lay out 4 layers of paper towels, about a foot long, next to a cooling rack. Get whatever you’re going to use to cut your donuts.
When the 10 minutes are up, pour the Buttermilk mixture into the well. Using a spatula, stir the dough until it comes together and most of the dry ingredients are off of the side. It will be super, ridiculously sticky.
Begin to heat your oil, being super careful Obviously. Dump the dough onto your cleverly prepared floured surface, put some flour on your hands, and quickly pat the gummy mound into a relatively even 1” thick layer. Cut out your first batch of donuts and holes, and scoot the rest of the dough to the side to be cut later.
Test the temperature of the oil by (caaarefully) dropping a little dough blob into it. If said dough blob immediately pops to the surface and starts frizzling away, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t? Let that stuff heat up a little longer.
Once the oil is to temperature, call your Donut Partner into the room and gently lower one donut into the oil. It should immediately rise to the surface and start getting fluffy. In about 45 seconds, it will be browned, so flip it over with your spoon and fry the top. Once the donut is done, place it on the paper towel runway and have the Donut Partner start flipping and rolling the donut along the runway for about 30 seconds (with a utensil, not fingers) and then transfer to a wire rack. This is a tip we gleaned from Ree Drummond’s blog and it’s genius. You can go without, but it makes for a much lighter, fluffier, less greasy donut.
As soon as the donut is out of the oil, replace it with a new one— or three if you trust that you’ve got the hang of it without deep frying your fingers/kitchen— and repeat the process. Donut holes cook a little bit quicker, and can be a pain in the ass to flip, but it’s all the same idea.
When you start frying the last of your first round of already cut donuts, have your Donut Partner pat and cut the rest of the dough, and keep frying.
Once the donuts are all cooked, turn off your burner and very, very carefully move your giant pot of grease to a back burner so it can cool undisturbed. Later, much later, when it’s cooled: dispose of it or store it safely.
Mix your Orange Juice and Powdered Sugar in a wide bowl and beat with a fork or whisk until it’s nice and smooth. Dip each donut completely into that glaze and put back on the rack to set up for a few minutes— or just shove them directly into your face. If you want your donuts extra sweet, or plan on letting them hang around longer than a half an hour, give them a second dunk in the glaze.
Donuts should be eaten as quickly as possible and probably served with some milky coffee. They taste their best about 15 minutes after they’ve been glazed, but are still pretty awesome for the first 24 hours. If you want to go any longer than that, we recommend freezing and then warming in the oven (or microwave) before eating.