Is a fry pan full of bubbling cake doughnuts not a joy to behold, my friends? If not, I put it to you that you are dead. Or vegan.
Oh, I kid. You know, baseball players get a very bad rap. They’re not respected as athletes, though it’s widely claimed that the act of merely hitting the ball is the most difficult single feat in all of sports. Something similar can be said about doughnut making. It’s considered a rather plebian act by pastry standards. Yet frying doughnuts well — and consistently — is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done in the realm of cooking. But more on that later.
Start by assembling your ingredients. Combine your dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Stir them all together, then add the very soft butter.
Stir on low for a minute or so to fully incorporate the fat.
Next, combine all your (warm) wet ingredients, including sour cream, into a pouring device and give them a good whisking.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the mixer and run the machine on medium-low for 30 seconds or so. Scrape the bowl down.
Don’t think you need to scrape? Have a look at this, PLENTY of dry stuff down there:
Mix another 30 seconds, scrape, then a final 30 and scrape once more for good measure. The batter should be mostly smooth and shiny:
Allow it to sit for 10 minutes while you bring your oil up to temperature. ALWAYS have a fire extinguisher at the ready when you fry. Notice that you want enough oil in the pan to cover the bulb of your thermometer while still leaving plenty of headroom (the oil level will rise when the doughnuts go in. Heat the oil to 380 degrees Fahrenheit.
For those interested in seeing how a professional cake doughnut apparatus works, I’ll start by using my Belshaw Type K Depositor. These things are expensive when they’re new (anything for business is), but can often be found used for about $100. Notice the end of the depositor goes right into the hot oil (to prevent the batter ring from changing shape as it falls).
I put in half a dozen, and the rings slowly float up to the top (note: if your oil is too deep the doughnuts will flip on their way up, and the torsion will cause cracks…one more argument for shallow oil).
Let the doughnuts fry for 45 seconds on one side, until you see little bubbly spots beginning to emerge on the undersides:
Then give them a turn with tongs (pros use drumsticks to turn a whole fryer full of rings one after the other, but I don’t recommend that for home). Fry for another 45 seconds…
…and remove to a screen for draining. There. Pretty close to perfect rings.
Now then, if you don’t happen to have a Belshaw Type K Depositor lying around, you can still make cake doughnuts the old-fashioned way, as so-called “drop” doughnuts. Just scoop up about a tablespoon and with your other finger (mine is clicking a photo just now), push the dollop into the oil. Repeat until the pan is mostly full. (Did I say ALWAYS pay careful attention to your oil temperature? Do.)
You’ll want to fry them until they’re a little darker than the doughnuts, since they’ll be a bit thicker. Say 1 minute per side.
The result will not be perfect rings, but they will be these, which, trust me friends, do not stink.