I have been promising to make donuts with my grandson for so long that I am sure he began to see it as one of those promises that never get fulfilled. Finally, I was able to make good when he spent the night with us while his parents had a late evening. On such occasions, it has been our tradition to walk across the street for sushi at a little neighborhood sushi bar (Remember this is LA!) This time we got our sushi fix, came back home, and watched a movie. I had already made the donut dough and let it rest in the refrigerator. In the morning, my grandson was up early, anticipating the donut making and eating the results. I pulled the dough out of the refrigerator and rolled it out so we could cut, fry, and eat until Mom and Dad came by to pick up our charge.
The recipe comes from our family cookbook, but the original source was a dear friend of Mom Mom, my mother-in-law who lived in East Texas. Mom Mom lived on the farm, and Elizabeth lived in the city (population 400), but they visited often with one another and belonged to the same quilting circle. One time many years ago, Elizabeth brought a batch of freshly made donuts to the farm. They were so good that Mom Mom asked for and got the recipe. It should be understood that fried donuts are a great tradition in East Texas. There were Krispy Kremes before it was cool, and one of our must-stops on any trip to the farm was Bobby Jo’s Donut Palace in Fairfield.
Elizabeth Montgomery was an excellent cook. I have written about her kitchen exploits before when I wrote about East Texas Casserole. This recipe is another of her contributions that became a welcome addition to our family repertoire. These donuts are raised rather than cakes and fried rather than baked. We used a small donut cutter, so they are not as big as Krispy Kremes, but a bigger cutter would bring them closer to that pinnacle. Eat them plain or add whatever kind of sugar bomb you choose. We shook them in a bag of sugar – plain, powdered, or cinnamon – and that was all they needed.
Elizabeth Montgomery’s East Texas Donuts
- 2 packages dry yeast
- ¾ cup warm water
- ½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 6½ cups all-purpose flour
- canola or peanut oil for frying
- sugar, powdered sugar, and cinnamon for coating
- In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside to proof.
- Melt the butter and transfer to a very large mixing bowl. Stir in the milk, water, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has cooled a bit. Stir in the proofed yeast.
- Add beaten eggs and salt. Then stir in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition of flour. The dough will be very soft.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you are ready to make the donuts, work with half of the dough while keeping the other half cold in the refrigerator. It is important to make sure the dough remains chilled while you work with it. On a heavily floured work surface, roll the dough into a circle about ¼ inch thick. The cold dough will not absorb the flour, and the flour will keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or the work surface.
- Using a donut cutter, cut out the donuts. Finish with the second half of the dough when you are ready.
- Cover the donuts (and donut holes) with a clean cloth and let them rise for about 30 minutes before frying them.
- Fry the donuts, 3 or 4 at a time, in canola or peanut oil heated to 350°F, turning the donuts so they are nicely browned on both sides. Remove to a cooling rack or several layers of paper towels on a brown paper sack.
- Shake, one at a time, in brown paper lunch bags containing sugar, powdered sugar, or sugar and cinnamon. Serve while still warm.
- The recipe makes about 2½ dozen donuts.
- If that’s too many, you can freeze half the dough for another day of donuts.