July is mini doughnut season—the first official week of summer is generally spent eating pancakes for breakfast, with corn dogs and mini doughnuts sprinkled throughout the week. We pick them up at Stampede, of course, but those little doughnuts are surprisingly easy to make at home—you don’t even need one of those fancy machines.
This is a basic soft yeasted doughnut dough, ideal for larger doughnuts as well as the small cinnamon-sugared ones. A shot glass rim is the perfect size, or rummage around for round cookie cutters or even empty pill bottles. Use a chopstick or your finger to poke a hole through the middle, and you have your own mini doughnut factory. This is an especially great project to take on when you have kids off school; small hands are perfect for making mini doughnuts, then dousing them in a shallow dish of cinnamon sugar after you’ve cooked them on the stovetop. All you need is a heavy pot and a couple inches of oil.
- Julie Van Rosendaal
In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and water; set it aside for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. (If it doesn’t foam, throw it out and buy fresh yeast. It won’t foam much, but if it just sits there and does nothing, it’s inactive.) Add the flour, milk, butter, egg, sugar and salt, and stir until you have a soft, sticky dough. Stir for a minute or two, then cover and set aside for an hour or two.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat with floured hands until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out as many rounds as possible with the rim of a shot glass, and poke a hole in each with a chopstick or your finger, stretching it out a bit as it will puff up as it cooks—make the hole bigger than you want it to be once it’s cooked. If you like, cover with a kitchen towel and let them rise for another 20-30 minutes (this isn’t necessary, but will produce lighter doughnuts).
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a deep, heavy saucepan until it’s hot but not smoking. You’ll know when it’s hot enough by dipping in a piece of bread or a bit of dough – it should start sizzling right away. Cook the doughnuts 5-6 at a time, depending on the size of your pot (you just don’t want to crowd it too much), turning occasionally with tongs or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Reroll the scraps once, or just cook them as scraps—these pieces tend to be our favourites.
Transfer to paper towels to drain, then toss in cinnamon-sugar while still warm. Makes a few dozen mini doughnuts.
Cinnamon-sugar is classic for mini doughnuts; mix about 1/2 cup sugar with a teaspoon or two of cinnamon, or just use regular or powdered sugar (without the cinnamon), or leave them plain. They could also be dipped or drizzled in a simple glaze, and topped with sprinkles.