Friday, March 10, 2017

Sour Cream Cake Doughnuts

Sour Cream Cake Doughnuts - made February 14, 2017, adapted from The Sweet and Simple Kitchen
I've always said I'm not a doughnut person. I have nothing against doughnuts but I don't love them enough to go to any extra effort to buy them and I don't really make them like I make brownies, cookies and cakes. I've even made pies more often than doughnuts and I rarely make pies. When Krispy Kreme first opened and doughnuts were such a huge thing, I got sucked in to try one just to see what the fuss was all about. It was good but I didn't see why people would line up for that or obsess about the "HOT" sign flashing. I mean, it was a doughnut.
Then, based on the recommendation of a coworker a few years ago, I tried Stan's Donuts. And, okay, wow, I could see why people liked doughnuts. I still wouldn't go out of my way for it (not really) but hey, it was a really good doughnut. Lately, as I took some time off between jobs, I'd taken to walking to my local library since I had the time and wanted the exercise. Stan's Donuts was across the street from my destination and I usually tacked on an additional walk to Target after the library so it didn't seem unreasonable to get a doughnut from Stan's in the midst of an 8-mile walk. Carbo-loading and all.
The original glazed doughnut, which Stan's loyal following lined up for and bought by the dozen(s) and inspired cult-like devotion (read their yelp reviews; they're hilarious), was as good as I remembered. Then, one day, I decided to try Stan's buttermilk doughnut. It's not as light as their yeasted original glazed and was more like a cake doughnut. But it was the best cake doughnut I'd ever had. Lightly glazed to add a bit of texture and sweetness, the doughnut itself wasn't very sweet. It wasn't bread-y or light-cake-y but had exactly the  right texture. My "I'm not that into doughnuts" mantra fell like a thud.
I started walking to the library and Target on the flimsiest of excuses just so I could buy a buttermilk doughnut from Stan's. Needless to say, I ate back every calorie I walked off. But it was worth it. So, of course, thinking I had awakened a hitherto latent love of doughnuts in my inner being, I decided to try out this recipe for Sour Cream Cake Doughnuts. I didn't expect it to be as good as Stan's (nothing ever is) but I could try, right?
Doughnuts are actually not that hard to make. They just take a little more time because you need to chill the dough, a bit more mess due to flouring and rolling out the dough, cutting out the doughnut shapes and you need to turn a blind eye to all the oil you'll be deep frying the doughnuts in. Stan's fries their doughnuts behind the counter for everyone to see so there would be no experiments with baking doughnuts here.
The recipe said to add lemon zest but I wasn't looking for a lemon doughnut but a plain doughnut so I left off the zest. I dutifully chilled the dough, rolled it out, cut out the requisite shapes (it's all about having fun with making doughnut holes) and fried with abandon. These were actually pretty easy to make. No messing about with yeast or waiting for a rise.
I dunked them in glaze and took a bite out of still-warm doughnut. So....first I'll say these weren't bad. If you like doughnuts, these are fine. Second I'll say, I remembered I'm not a doughnut person. These just weren't as good as Stan's Donuts and not worth the deep-fried calories to me. These didn't have the moist, fluffy but not too fluffy, cakey but not too cakey, tender texture of Stan's buttermilk doughnut. They didn't have the flavor of a Stan's doughnut. Actually, they didn't have much flavor at all. The glaze helped and that was fine but I couldn't get into the doughnut.

I'm glad I tried the recipe, if only to amend my previous mantra to something more accurate. I'm not a doughnut person but I'm a Stan's Donut person.
Sour Cream Cake Donuts
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup sour cream

Canola oil for frying

Vanilla icing
2 cups powdered sugar
enough whole milk to make a thin glaze (several tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; make a well in the center and set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl using an electric mixer, cream together eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest until pale and thick. Slowly add in the melted butter and beat until combined. Add half of the sour cream and beat to combine. Add the remaining sour cream and beat until smooth and just combined.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients and fold gently until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Spoon the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
  5. After chilling dough, heat a heavy-bottomed pot of about 2 inches of oil over medium heat to 350 degrees.
  6. While your oil is heating up, lightly flour a cool work surface and turn out doughnut dough. Dust the top with flour and roll dough to about 1/2" thickness. Using a round cutter about 2 inches in diameter (or however large or small you want your doughnuts), cut out 12 doughnuts. Using a smaller round cutter, cut out the doughnut holes in the center of each doughnut. Roll any scraps and cut into doughnut holes; do not over-handle.
  7. Once oil is 350 degrees, gently place 2-3 doughnuts at a time into the oil to fry. Flip after several minutes or when doughnuts are golden brown on the bottom. Continue frying until both sides are uniformly golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove doughnuts from fryer and let excess oil drip back into pan. Place cooked doughnuts on plates lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  8. Make glaze but whisking together glaze ingredients. Dip warm doughnuts into glaze, let set slightly and dip again if you want a thicker glaze. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Below are pictures of the buttermilk doughnut from Stan's - my doughnut heaven.

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