What better way to celebrate Christmas Eve than by frying up some donuts? You could even work it into the Hanukkah traditions with the oil, too!
Hopefully it’s okay to admit in a public blog that this was the first time I ever deep fried anything. The following will not be a recipe for donuts because I was fortunate and did not have to make the donut batter from scratch, too, besides having to fry them. My friend Lisa visited Hawaii and brought back a mix from one of her favorite bakeries. You could either make bread with it (tempting) or malasadas (yeasted donuts popular in Hawaii, but apparently Portugese in origin). The safe part of me wanted to make the bread, but the more adventurous side of me wanted to take this chance to make donuts without as much fear of wasting everything. I figured, if it did not work, it would be a problem of frying and not the recipe. I decided to make a half batch so that if I messed up, I could still try again with another batch. And, if they turned out, bonus donuts! So, it was time to fry.
One of the main reasons I haven’t fried before is I needed a wire strainer/wok strainer. But, we were not able to find one that was up to my husband’s Asian standards for quality. Finally, while at a local restaurant supply store, we managed to find one like this here for just $3.00! The handle was a bit long, so it’s a little tricky to use, but for three bucks, I was willing to give it a try. Be sure to get all of your supplies ready.
If you keep reading, you can find out how I made vanilla sugar…
Of course, because I was making yeasted donuts, they require some time for rising. The directions were not super clear. I needed to add butter or shortening, but it didn’t say how. It also did not mention kneading the dough for the donuts, but for the bread you were supposed to. I decided to knead it anyway because it wasn’t very smooth. I think it was a good decision, because (spoiler!) everything turned out in the end. There were two sets of rising–the first one was after making the dough. The second was after forming the donuts. Now for this, the directions were super specific: 2 ounces per malasada! I followed it and placed them on an oiled dish to rise. Well, they ended up getting huge! So, I tore them in half and re-rolled them before frying them.
Now, for the frying….I used canola oil and was surprised how much it uses! I used about 1 quart in a 3 quart saucepan. Be sure to check your strainer and make sure it works ok with your pan. Mine was a little tight, but not too bad.
You need to heat the oil so that it hits 375 degrees for donuts, but you want to keep it between 350 and 375 so that the donuts will begin to brown instantly when they hit the oil.
This keeps the donuts from being oily when you eat them. According to directions we found online (the recipe on the box I used did not say how to fry the donuts), I fried the donuts until they reached a nice golden color on the outside.
After frying the donuts, I let them dry on a cooling rack (with a pan or paper towels underneath to not make a mess on your counter). It becomes a bit of a routine: plop some donuts to fry, meanwhile roll the fried ones in sugar, pull out the next donuts, let cool, repeat.
For the sugar, I recommend using vanilla sugar like I did. I also dipped some of the donuts in a mocha frosting I made for cupcakes a little earlier in the week.
This worked really well because the coffee flavor with the donuts was amazing! Totally craving it as a breakfast dessert.
Now with all of this, do I feel these tasted any better than baked donuts? Yes and no. Baked are so much easier and more instantly gratifying. Plus, they stay fresh for longer. But, I also liked the crunchy outside of the fried donuts. On a regular basis, I would prefer to make baked ones, but for special occasions, I can see myself frying up some.
I feel a little silly sharing the following recipe, but to be honest, it will save you a bunch of money over buying it at a grocery store. I only use vanilla sugar where I think I would notice it. So, on top of items like fried donuts is perfect.
Directions for Vanilla Sugar
Once you start a “vanilla sugar” container, you can keep adding to it, much like making your own vanilla extract.
- 1-2 vanilla beans (1 is plenty, 2 will just make it stronger)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
Split the vanilla bean(s) down the middle and scrape out the seeds.
In a food processor, pulse the seeds with the sugar.
Set aside in a sealed container with the vanilla bean(s) inside, too. Use when desired!
I add more sugar as it gets low, and I also toss in vanilla beans I have used for making vanilla ice cream (after rinsing them off first). Sometimes the sugar will clump up, but it’s ok. Just break apart with your fingers or a fork before using.