Our Honey Girl loves doughnuts. So on one of her last days home, we made these doughnuts together. These meet at the intersection of carnival food and slice of cake. They are tender on the inside and moist from the flaked coconut, and their exteriors are just a touch crunchy like a good old-fashioned doughnut should be. Their roll through a bowl of sugar makes them sweet and pretty, too.
Our Honey Girl is an adventurous baker, unlike me. If I am the unassuming pedestrian, crossing at the corner with the light, she is our high wire-walking, trapeze-flying baker with a gift for literally tossing things into a bowl, sometimes without so much as a measuring cup, towards baking perfection. In fact, she defies all baking logic; hot hands, recipes, guidelines, and the wisdom of bakers past be damned. We all stand back and marvel whenever she bakes—and then enjoy the delicious spoils rather greedily. And, happily, we have finally reversed roles in the kitchen. I am no longer her guide, there to answer questions or to toss in the baking soda (measured, of course) while she chucks in the flour with abandon. She now leads me. Of course we can radically alter recipes, who needs one anyway! She is our baking whisperer, our baking savant, and we are so fortunate to have her in our kitchen, however briefly now.
I tossed out the leftover doughnuts this morning and my heart broke a little. I knew it would be a hard transition when she left for college. What I didn’t expect is that I would feel the weight of her leaving, of her absence, every time she left us. We miss her so.
We used 2 large bottles of canola oil to fry the doughnuts and an extra deep pan to minimize oil spatter.
Watch the temperature of your oil. It takes some time to get to 360 degrees, but if you don’t turn down the heat as it approaches that temperature, the oil will quickly shoot beyond 360 to 400 degrees or hotter. Adding doughnuts to fry will not drop the temperature significantly, so allow the oil to cool a bit if it gets too hot.
The original recipe calls for chilling the dough before cutting the doughnuts, but we found this unnecessary. If your dough is a bit difficult to work with, give it 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Sugar-dipped Coconut Doughnuts
Yield: about 10 doughnuts plus holes
We adapted this recipe from Elinor Klivans’ Donuts. Her recipe is for a basic cake doughnut which is rolled in coconut. We decided to enrich the dough with cream and to incorporate coconut into it, and to roll the finished doughnuts in sugar. I’m still debating whether or not to keep the book. Someday it will be a perfect snapshot of 2011 food trends, and for that reason it’s somehow appealing. It’s a pretty book, too. But it feels more like window dressing than wardrobe. It has a good recipe for yeast doughnuts and one for cake doughnuts and some nice ideas. Otherwise, it feels like the food version of 2011′s high school homecoming court: recipes for the currently popular–donuts with bacon, sticky toffee donuts, salted caramel donuts, dulce de leche, meyer lemon custard, and chocolate chile donuts. Sure, I like those of-the-moment things, but they all seem to be the same basic doughnut wrapped in a different taffeta dress. And I am someone who doesn’t do trendy very well. We have family snapshots from the early 1980s in which my fabulous sister Molly has a deep tan, lofty hair, giant plastic jewelry, and a matching teal taffeta dress with a drop waist, puffed sleeves, and an asymmetrical hemline; I stand next to her with a bob haircut wearing a collarless lace blouse, a plain pink lambswool v-neck, and pearls. She was the popular one. Me, well, I wasn’t born with such a proclivity. So Donuts is just not my kind of book, though it’s very nice. You might say it’s the current homecoming queen of doughnut cookbooks.
2 ¼ c. all purpose flour
1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. salt
2 large eggs
½ c. sugar
¼ c. whole milk
¼ c. heavy cream
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
2 t. vanilla
7 ounces flaked coconut
Canola or peanut oil for frying
Sugar for rolling the doughnuts
- In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, beat the eggs and sugar until creamy.
- Add half of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated.
- Add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla, and beat on low speed until well blended.
- Add the remaining flour mixture and beat on low speed until the mixture comes together.
- Add the coconut and mix until incorporated.
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Pour a depth of 2” into a deep-fryer or deep, heavy sauté pan and warm over medium high heat until a thermometer in the oil reaches 360 degrees.
- On a generously floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle 10 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick.
- Using a round doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts. Gather the scraps and repeat the rolling and cutting.
- Carefully lower two to five doughnuts or holes into the hot oil and deep-fry them until they are dark golden, about 1 ½ minutes.
- Turn them over and cook them until they are dark golden on the other side, about 1 minute.
- Transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel-lined baking sheet.
- Fry the remaining doughnuts and holes, checking the temperature of the oil between batches.
- When the doughnuts have cooled just a bit, roll them in sugar.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.