Much like my dad, I have a weakness for doughnuts. Unlike my dad, I cannot eat as many doughnuts as I want without turning into a doughnut. If you inherit the weakness, then it should be a given that you also inherit the metabolism, right? *Sigh* So unfair.
My dad is particular to those cinnamon-sugar coated apple cider doughnuts found at the farm stands during the fall months. I, in a rare turn of events, am less picky. Cake, yeast-raised, Boston cream, glazed, powdered sugar, holes, crullers, sprinkles, spice, chocolate, coconut......I pretty much like 'em all.
I have, however, always been much more partial to the Dunkin' Donuts variety vs. any of the other brands. And for some reason Krispy Kremes don't appeal to me at all. Must be a raised-in-the-northeast thing. Biting into a powdered cake or a glazed chocolate Munchkin immediately takes me back to elementary school recess. Those special "Munchkin Days" were the best days ever!
Not only do I love to eat doughnuts, I have also developed a fondness for making them from scratch. There is something very satisfying about producing a beautifully raised and glazed, perfectly round batch of doughnuts and holes. Maybe it's the "You made those?!?" reaction, which you are almost guaranteed to hear (although it usually comes out more like "Yuh muh thuh?!?", due to mouth full of doughnut.) Or maybe it's due to you conquering that somewhat daunting task of frying pastries, and then thinking to yourself "Hey! I made those!" ("Ah muh thuh".)
When I do prepare doughnuts, I need to find a home for them, stat (after the requisite sampling, of course.) Otherwise I'll pick at them, crumb-by-crumb, all day long. This distributing of the doughnuts, as you can imagine, is not the most difficult of tasks. I have yet to find a potential recipient whose reaction is of the "Fresh doughnuts? Thanks, but I'm good" persuasion.
These guys are going to the FedEx office. They always get my stuff where it needs to be when it needs to be there, and they run a lot this time of year, so I figure that donuts are just what they need.
I've been on a huge gingerbread kick lately: creme brulee, macarons, and my planned recipe for Thanksgiving breakfast, blueberry gingerbread pancakes. So, creating a gingerbread-flavored doughnut has been on my list. I decided to give this recipe an extra fall kick with the addition of pumpkin puree in the dough, which also helps to keep these treats nice and moist. As far as toppings go, some people love a glaze, while others go for the sugar (while some of us, ahem, go for both.) So, I have included maple glaze and a spiced sugar options below.
These doughnuts would be a welcome addition to breakfast for your family and guests on Thanksgiving morning -- or on any morning this holiday season. Because the dough can be prepared in advance, all that needs to be done that day is the cutting, frying, and glazing/sugaring. Enlist kids or a willing helper to assist with the rolling and cutting portion as well as the finishing touches. Anything leftover from breakfast will taste great served alongside hot cider as a mid-day treat.
Here are some extra tips for making these holiday-spiced sweets:
- If you like an extra punch of ginger in your gingerbread, chop up some crystallized ginger and add it to the dough, or sprinkle it on top of the glaze for garnish.
- You can also dress up theses doughnuts even more by adding chopped dried cranberries, raisins, or toasted nuts to the dough.
- When cutting out the shapes, try dipping the cutters in flour first. This helps to prevent the dough from sticking to the cutters.
- One of the handiest tools that I own for frying is a spider skimmer, pictured below. It facilitates removing items from the fryer while draining. I found mine for about $4 at the international market, in the Asian foods section.
Pumpkin Gingerbread Doughnuts
Makes about 15 doughnuts and holes
4 cups cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons shortening (preferable butter-flavored)
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsulphured molasses
⅔ cup sour cream
⅔ cup pumpkin puree
Canola oil for frying
For the spiced sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon
For the maple glaze
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon maple extract
¼ cup pure maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons hot water
In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening with both sugars at medium speed until well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the molasses and beat for one minute more, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream and the pumpkin puree. Add this mixture alternately with the dry ingredients to the electric mixer bowl, mixing after each addition until combined. At this point, the dough should be very sticky and resemble buscuit dough.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover, and chill for at least one hour or overnight.
Place enough canola oil in a large pot to reach 2-inches in depth an place over medium heat.
For the spiced sugar: Stir together the sugar and the spices in a medium bowl.
For the maple glaze: In a medium bowl whisk together the confectioners' sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, maple extract, and maple syrup. Whisk in enough of the hot water to yield a thin glaze.
Transfer the chilled dough onto a generously floured work surface and roll out to a ½-inch thickness. Using either a doughnut cutter or two round cutters (about 2 ½-inches and 1-inch in diameter), cut the dough into as many doughnuts and holes as possible. Carefully reroll any scraps and cut out more doughnuts and holes.
Once the oil has reached a temperature of about 325F degrees, add the doughnuts and holes, a few at a time, to the pot, making sure not to crowd them. Fry the doughnuts for about 15 seconds, then carefully flip them. Fry them for about 1 minute, until golden brown, then flip and fry again on the other side for about 1 minute more, until dark golden brown.
Transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain and continue the process with the remaining doughnuts.
If using the spiced sugar, toss the still warm doughnuts in the sugar mixture until coated on all sides.
If using the glaze, dip one side of the still warm doughnuts into the glaze, then place them on wire racks until the glaze sets, about 15 minutes.